Wicker Thankful for Mississippi’s Adoptive Families

National Adoption Month Honors Those Who Have Opened Their Hearts and Homes

December 2, 2013

Every year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, communities across the country celebrate National Adoption Day.  For thousands of children, this special day marks the final step in their move from foster care to a permanent home.  In Mississippi, events throughout the month of November – annually recognized as National Adoption Month – have helped finalize the adoptions of dozens of children in foster care. 

It is fitting that National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month coincide with a time for giving thanks with loved ones.  I am thankful Mississippians continue to open their hearts and homes to children in need of a family. According to the Mississippi Department of Human Services, approximately 350 children are adopted in the state each year.   

Celebrating Mississippi’s ‘Angels in Adoption’

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to honor Mississippians who have worked to change the life of a child through adoption.  I was pleased to nominate Whit and Leanne Lewis of New Albany as one of this year’s “Angels in Adoption” award recipients.  The award, sponsored by the nonprofit Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, recognizes individuals and organizations from all 50 states who have shown an extraordinary commitment to children without families.  In previous years, Tom and Debbie Velie of Tupelo have been recognized for their important work through New Beginnings International Children’s and Family Services.  These “Angels” help provide support to prospective and current adoptive families as they go through a process that alone could be daunting or overwhelming.   

Providing assistance to adoptive families is key to finding permanent homes for the nearly 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States.  Every year, thousands of children leave foster care at 18 without ever having been placed in a permanent home. Studies show the importance of family on a child’s development and success later in life.  Every child deserves to grow up in a caring home, and adoption offers this precious gift.   

Upholding the Sanctity of the Adoption Process

Like domestic adoption, inter-country adoption has its unique challenges.  Tragically, in recent years, a number of Mississippi families have been affected by disruptions in the international adoption process.  In 2010, we were able to unite some families struggling to adopt children from Nepal.  But the heartbreaking ban on U.S. adoptions imposed by Russia at the beginning of this year still remains, with hundreds of cases stuck in the pipeline.  Russia’s unjust decision to change the rules in the middle of the game ultimately jeopardizes the well-being of young lives.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have supported efforts advancing the right of every child – both here at home and around the world – to know the love of a family.  Earlier this year, at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, I introduced a first-of-its-kind resolution to uphold the sanctity of the adoption process.  The measure earned overwhelming support from the 57-country organization, demonstrating the strong international consensus against disruptions affecting inter-country adoptions already in progress.   

There are many reasons to give thanks during this special time of the year.  Sharing the joy of family is one for which we should all be grateful.  As we gather with loved ones in the coming weeks, I wish you and your family a very blessed holiday season.