By Faye Gaston
The "National Adoption Awareness Month" program was presented on November 16, 2021, at the Department of Human Resources (DHR) building. November is the "National Adoption Awareness Month".
A poster listed twelve criteria for mutual selection of foster and adoptive parents to make an informed decision on adopting a child or teenager. A "Heart Gallery Display" showed photos of several who are available for adoption.
Tracy R. Larkins, DHR Director, gave the welcome for a "very special day." She said that 783 children/teens had been adopted in Alabama during the fiscal year. Six thousand are in foster care in Alabama. There are six foster homes in Bullock County.
Juanita G. Smith, on the DHR staff as a Service Supervisor, said the focus is on adopting teens because they are at a higher risk when aged out (after age 18) to be homeless or a victim of sex trafficking. The average time in foster care for teens aged 15-18 is 31 months. One hundred twenty-two thousand children and teens are waiting to be adopted, and one out of five are teens. Only 5% of those adopted are aged 15-18.
Shundrea Smith read a poem comparing vows raising an adopted child or teen to vows made at a wedding.
Jacqueline Moultrie-Jackson, an adoptive parent, was the featured speaker. She quoted Bible Scripture with every point she was making. In raising an adopted child, she said she had "trying times, crying times, embarrassing times, good and bad times." However, it is worth it all when the child realizes the adoptive parent loves them and "calls you Mom or Dad." It takes a long time for them to realize you love them. By showing love to her adopted child at all times, she feels that she made a difference in the child's life.
Juanita Smith thanked the adoptive parent speaker for her words of wisdom and that it "takes a dedicated person to be an adoptive parent." She thanked the speaker who read the poem and the guests who came to the program, especially Bullock County Commissioner John McGowan.
Tracy R. Larkins ending remarks were that more people need to adopt children and teens. "Children need homes and love."
Juanita Smith prayed the blessing on the refreshments and the children and teens who need to be adopted.