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Pulaski County Courts, DHS Celebrate National Adoption DayDate: 11/29/2016
By Kev Moye
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On a beautiful, sunny, fall afternoon, the Pulaski County Adoption Day celebration was held on the steps of the Pulaski County Juvenile Court.
The theme for the Nov. 17 event was “Celebrating a Family for Every Child,” and coincided with National Adoption Day
The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Children and Family Services organized the festivities with the family court and Project Zero, and highlighted the importance of youths being in a forever home.
Jessica Foreman addressed the attendees from the viewpoint of an elementary school teacher and an adoptive parent.
“Everybody needs somebody. My husband and I decided to take this journey, and it’s had its ups and downs – but at the end it was all worth it. Our children have blessed us tremendously,” Foreman said. “We have learned from them. They’ve made us better people. They’ve helped me become a better teacher and to look at situations from a parent’s side and not just as an educator.
“I’m happy for everybody who’s played a role in making a difference in a child’s life,” she said. “You not only make a difference in their lives, they’re making a difference in your lives.”
Cory and Christina Jones also advocate for adoption.
Mr. Jones provided a powerful testimony of how adoption has given both he and his wife a renewed stance on parenting.
“This has been such a beautiful and wonderful experience for us. It’s opened our eyes to so many things,” he said. “It’s opened our eyes to our own inadequacies as people and as parents. Before I was a parent, I thought I knew everything about parenting. But foster care and adoption has humbled us in so many ways.
“It’s opened our eyes to the reality that kids need the ability to tell their full story,” Jones emotionally said. “It’s wonderful for them to understand where they come from.”
Judge Joyce Warren with the family court made a passionate plea to the crowd, with an emphasis on all youth deserving a chance to reside in a permanent, loving environment.
“November is special to all of us because it’s National Adoption Month. Children of all races, gender and ages get to experience the joy of finding their Forever Family once an adoption is finalized,” she said. “The sense of community is so important, and we all need to do everything we can to ensure that every child has a positive, supportive community in which to grow and develop.”
Warren also referenced the low adoption rates of teenage youth, and one in three in the child welfare system in Arkansas is a teenager.
“Statistics show that teens are less likely to be adopted than younger children. So we think about what we can do in the judicial system to change that,” she acknowledged.
“One thing we can do is to promote positive attitudes toward permanency. We have to believe and set expectations for others that all children are adoptable.”
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Warren said. “We have about 5,200 children in foster care in Arkansas with about 500 waiting for their own forever adoptive family.”
The event concluded with the finalization of several adoptions and the release of red and purple balloons.
There are children of all ages, genders and races – including only children and sibling groups – in need of an adoptive family. There is no cost associated with adopting through the Arkansas Department of Human Service Division of Children and Family Services. Some children will qualify for financial benefits. For more information, visit www.adoptarkansas.org.
Judge Joyce Warren gives her address during the Pulaski County Adoption Day ceremonies, emphasizing the need for forever homes for teens.