Many Nebraskans look forward to spending the upcoming holidays renewing family traditions. While most of us hold fond childhood memories of the holidays, there are more than 400 children across our state in foster care available for adoption who won't share these special days with a forever family.
November is Adoption Awareness Month when we spotlight the special children in foster care who are waiting to find permanent, loving families. So far this year, over 200 foster children have already been adopted. About 100 more will be adopted in ceremonies during the coming weeks. I want to thank the parents who have opened their hearts and homes to the children who are in our child welfare system. Adoptive families are making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children in our state.
Nebraska is well-known for the giving spirit of its citizens. Adopting foster children and providing the love and support every child needs and deserves is very special. Many of them wait years to be adopted while hoping someone will step forward who they can call "mom" or "dad."
The reasons to adopt foster children are obvious. First, not only will a child's life be positively changed, but so will your life. Statistics show that without a permanent family, children in foster care are at increased risk for homelessness, substance abuse and crime as young adults. The long-term benefits to the child and society are enormous.
On the other hand, adopted children grow up as healthy, functioning and productive members of society. They gain a sense of what it means to have a permanent, loving family who will stand by them now and throughout their life. These children thrive in an environment that includes an adult who is committed to their long-term well-being. In a loving and caring environment, they develop networks of support through friends, relatives, neighbors and the organizations they join.
If you have ever thought about adopting a child, I hope you will consider adopting a child in foster care. These children have experienced so much in their young lives. Many of them are over six years old and find it difficult to become adopted.
The first National Adoption Day was held in Nebraska in 1999. Our courts open their doors to finalize the adoptions of foster children and celebrate the families who adopt and all who have helped them on their journey to adoption. Adoption activities will be held across the state for families adopting children, and I join in giving these families our thanks and best wishes.
While we focus on the adoption of foster children this month, I also encourage citizens to consider mentoring or foster parenting these children. You can become part of a team that helps children develop the tools to live a normal, healthy life.