November is National Adoption Month. It is the month where we celebrate the gift of adoption. In its traditional sense, adoption usually means a birth mother having the selfless courage to make an adoption plan for a newborn child, knowing that an adoptive family could give them a much better life than they are prepared to provide at this point in their lives. In our 90 years of existence, countless families have grown their families through adoption and seen their lives being transformed by love. We are proud of our tradition.
Today adoption is so much more. Each year in North Dakota, over 100 children in foster care are adopted permanently into families. Last year 126 children had their adoptions finalized through the Adults Adopting Special Kids program which is a collaborative effort of Catholic Charities North Dakota and PATH, ND Inc. On Saturday, November 23, 21 children will have their adoptions finalized in Fargo as a part of National Adoption Day. Nationally, over 100,000 are expected to find their permanent place in a loving family on that day alone.
For me, adoption touches a very special place in my heart. You see, I have a niece who was adopted over 20 years ago. I’ll never forget the day she came into my life. You see, my sister and brother- in- law had been on “the list” for several years. (This was before open adoption existed) I was an eighth grader and got called out of class to go to the office. I was afraid I was in BIG trouble for something or something bad had happened. Instead, my Mom was waiting on the phone to tell me that the day had come… my sister was getting a baby girl. I was a little shocked and surprised, but very excited. I didn’t have to wait for 9 months like everyone else, she would be here in just a couple of days meaning that I would be an aunt for the second time, but this time it was a girl!
From the very first time I met her, this little girl with a bald head and big eyes, I was in love! She became my buddy and I made excuses to visit their house several times a week. She even gets credit for my family nickname, Aunty Tooney, because she couldn’t quite say my name and to this day it still sticks! It was so much fun to watch her grow up with all my other nieces and nephews to be great people. In fairy tale form, she grew up, got married and is now a Mom herself to two beautiful children! The blessings just keep multiplying!
Each day at Catholic Charities, we see families growing because of adoption. So much work goes into the adoption process with home studies, home visits, legal proceedings, team meetings with county social workers, family assessments, child assessments, life books, etc… that the process seems to take forever. But, you can always tell when an adoption worker is finalizing an adoption. There is usually an extra spring in their step and their smile is a little wider all because of the abundance of love and acceptance adoption brings. Which makes me smile because I remember the feeling and think of all the blessings in my life.
If you are interested in growing your family through adoption or any of our other services, call Catholic Charities North Dakota at 701-235-4457 or go to CatholicCharitiesND.org to learn more.
Colleen Hardy, Director of Development and Public Relations
Catholic Charities North Dakota