New lives start here

More than 44,500 children in foster care have been adopted on National Adoption Day. It’s a day that represents new lives for children and for their parents. Learn what National Adoption Day means to those who have experienced it first hand.

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My adoption story: Coincidence or just meant to be?

Category: Families and adoptees

Tarpon Springs, FL

I would like to share a positive story about adoption and one with an unbelievable turn of events. I was adopted as a child by my parents and had the perfect all American life. I had one brother, one sister, the best mom and dad anyone could have, and lived in a wonderful community near Peoria Illinois. But still I always had a sense of wanting to know my biological family and with some information from my mom I even tried to find them at one time but was not able to. I remember telling one of my friends while in Illinois that I always felt like I should live somewhere warm and I eventually ended up moving to Palm Harbor Florida.

I was in Florida for a few years and one night while talking to my friend who's brother is also adopted, I told him my only regret was that now I will never have any chance of finding my biological family because I have moved so far away. The very next night I received a call from Catholic Social Services, the agency I had contacted many years ago about trying to locate them. They told me that I had a biological sister who never knew about me and she just found out and was about to get married and had been trying to locate me. I still get the chills to this day about this call. For sure I thought she was going to tell me that she still lived in Illinois also but then came a surprise that I could not believe. My biological mother had moved from Illinois also to Palm Harbor Fl. Without knowing anything about her I had moved from Illinois to Florida to the same exact city as she did over 20 year earlier. While she did not still live in Palm Harbor at this time she only lived 45 minutes away. There is much more to this story but to make it short we met and my biological family invited my adoptive family down for my sisters wedding where they all met and everyone got a long wonderfully. To this day we all keep in touch and it has truly been a blessing none of us could have never imagined.

I went on in my life to get married and last year adopted four brothers out of foster care. My story is about how adopting a child can help so many people because without being adopted I don't know that I ever would have had the strength to adopt 4 boys. These boys are my world and could not ever imagine life without them and I thank God for the steps in my life that led me to them.

Chris Dunne

Category: Families and adoptees

Bangor , ME

It was a cold and dark night in the middle of October, there was a young boy who walked to the end of the bridge looked down and saw the water feeling as if this could be it. The boy had many thoughts as he looked over the edge, as no one was there for him and those who were supposed to be were not, the state had write him off and refused to work with him, many told him that know matter what happened he would not succeed. As the boy looked down a man approached him and talked the boy out of it. The boy walked to the homeless shelter with huge holes in his shoes, and a broken and afraid heart the boy had no one. His mother was unable to help him in the way he needed leaving him as a homeless fifteen year old with no where’s to go an no one to talk to. Along came a man, the man was an older man mid to late fifties, retired for a year, the guy has later been stated as saying, when I met him he had no shoes and no one. The guy was awed to see an individual go through this. The man took the boy to a store to get a new pair of shoes and so it started.

When Martin Smith took the job to mentor this young boy he was paid for his time, throughout time they began to form a relationship and soon they became very close. When this boy finally got accepted into Job corps Mr. Smith began to mentor him and teach him the right and wrong ways and taught him very good people skills. Soon the boys behavior began to change he began to gain confidence and began to think of all the things he could do, with many road bumps along the way, Martin continued to help this boy and pick him up when he was down punishing for the bad and rewarding the good. What had started as a man being paid for his job had turned into a father son relationship. The boy began to rely on Mr. Smith knowing that know matter what happened he would have his back. Through the tough and the bad from meeting his father to completing Job Corps Mr. Smith stood side by side and helped him grow.

Soon The boy moved into the real world got a job, enrolled in school, and got his own place WITH ASSISTANCE FROM THE V9 program. He has been able to maintain this for a long period of time son he began to grasp control of his life and went from working at the movies to working for Wal-Mart and becoming a full time student, this year with the help of Mr. Smith and his driving ability he was able to get his driving license.

How do I know the above stuff about these to because I am the boy turned man in this letter. When I first left my mothers house and was released from state custody I doubted everything. Martin has stood by my side throughout everything and has helped me realized that there is nothing that I can not do.

Martin has been there as a friend, grandfather and most importantly a father figure to me for two years now and has watched and helped me reach my goals. In life everybody needs to know that no matter what there will always be someone is there for them. Martin has been that man and has shown me that he will continue to be that person. Regardless to what a paper says Martin is already my father in my eyes. But to make it legal we must get it official.

When the conversation first came up it was one of the the most emotional subjects ever. Martin later had a heart attack which lead to hospitalization in the Boston area. Determined to have the adoption go through we sat their filling out the paper work. We were about done with the paper work when we were stuck on the middle name and called the nurse in. At the same time all three of us said Michael and thus created the middle name. After we had finished this we went back and submitted the paperwork and was told that we were not able go through with the adoption, something that devastated my Martin and pushed me to enragement. I went home and wrote a seven page long paper that with the help of others led to the overturn of policy of the educational program known as the V9. This made it possible for youth to still be adopted while on the V9. Ever since Martin officially adopted me on November 02 of 2011 it has changed the way my entire life has changed. I have since dedicated all my free time to raise awareness for Foster care. With help of the Muskie School, Jim Casey Youth Foundation and the Bangor Department of Health and Human Services I have been able to give over 300 hundred hours of Speaking engagements and was Fortunate enough to win the 2012 Brad Levesque Award which is given to a youth who resembles the same qualities as the iconic Brad Levesque. I never truly understood how important it was to have a permanent family connection to rely on and be there. it has given me a emotional bond with the community and made me believe that I belong in this world. My hope is that I will always be able to advocate and raise awareness about the importance of youth in care.

Category: Families and adoptees

Reeseville, WI

We have been blessed with 4 amazing children through adoption. Our oldest son joined our family in 2007, from Kyrgyzstan, our youngest daughter in 2009, from Louisiana and our most recent additions a son and daughter in 2012 from Ethiopia. Our children range in age from 3-6. All of our kids have special needs and while life is very busy, they have given us the incredible gifts of joy, perspective and patience!

Category: Families and adoptees

Gilbert, AZ

I am a single parent of 6 children. I adopted two sisters 11 years ago, have one biological child, 3 foster children. Tomorrow, Saturday, November 17, I will have the honor of adopting two more of my foster children. They are a sibling group. I have had one since she was three months and her sister was 1 1/2. We are very excited to make them part of our forever family.

Category: Families and adoptees

Commerce City, CO

Four years ago I took in my granddaughter at two and a half months when her mother could not take care of her. Then in May 2010, the mother gave birth to yet another baby girl. The baby was not my granddaughter, but since they were siblings I chose to bring her home to keep them together. It has been a long two and a half years, but on November 14 we legally adopted her through Arapahoe County Social Service's National Adoption Day celebration. Very happy day. Early this year I was contacted once again when the mother gave birth once again to another baby girl who is now in my care and hope to adopt to keep all three siblings together.

Category: Families and adoptees

Lafayette, LA

Category: Families and adoptees

La Canada-Flintridge, CA

I'm the mother of two biological children and two adopted children. My two adopted children are the joys of my life and their stories of courage are recounted in my book, "Momaholic, Crazy confessions of a Helicopter Parent". I devote a whole chapter in the book to each one of my kids. Adoptive parents will be encouraged and those considering adoption will be inspired.

I am a survivor

Category: Families and adoptees

Los Angeles, CA

Hi! I'm Cassidy and I am a survivor of the foster care system.

I spent many years of my early childhood in foster care before being adopted a month shy of six by my incredible loving family. I didn't have an easy start and was exposed to things that no child should ever be exposed to.

I have experienced a lot of loss. I was separated from my birth family and put into foster care with my sister, and then my sister was taken away from me too. She went with her birth father who wasn't related to me so I couldn't go. My foster family was going to adopt me but changed their minds. Finally at the age of six, an incredible family found me and gave me my forever home.

Living in foster care is like riding the subway. People come and go, faces blend, everybody gets off eventually. As a child in foster care, you learn to trust no one and to protect yourself, which is what I had to do. Because of that, I learned how to be pretty tough and form a protective shell around myself. This made me look like damaged goods, but inside I was just this little girl who wanted to feel loved and excepted. I wanted to belong somewhere. With the help of my forever family, I started to let my guard down and trust again.

In foster care, I learned to adapt to all of the different families, houses, cities, schools, foster parents, other foster children, doctors, social workers and anyone else who came into my life. Some people and experiences were nice, but others were not. I did not have play dates or activities outside of school. No one wanted to play with a foster kid. I remember praying very hard for a family. My own family. I would dream about what it felt like to be loved. I couldn't even use my foster family’s last name, and I remember as a kindergartner being very upset about that. I didn't belong anywhere or to anyone.

Luckily, for me, God heard my prayers. I guess he saw that I needed a family, so he blessed me with three sisters and an amazing loving open-hearted Mom and Dad who I love with all my heart. I couldn't have asked for a better family. Or one better fit for me! I went from having no Dad, to having the greatest, smartest, funniest Dad in the world. Someone who shows me how I deserve to be treated by a man someday. I went from having a Mom who couldn't take care of me to a Mom who supports and encourages every dream I have. A Mom who NEVER leaves my side. A Mom who teaches me how to be a Mom. I have three amazing big sisters who accept me and protect me and are great role models for me. I have my own cats, my own Dog, my own room!

Again I had to move, to change schools and homes and everything that was familiar to me. And even though I was happy to have my own attention, I was also scared to death every minute of every day that it could end at any time and once again I would be alone. And it has been scary to let my guard down and to trust again. But I found someone to stick with me. To believe in me. And not to judge me or where I have been. It helps to talk about it.

For all I have been through, I could be negative and bitter, but I chose not to let that negative energy invade my soul. Instead I choose to be a positive person and rise above everything that life throws at me! So now I move forward instead of backwards. I will not be defined by my past, instead I am defining my future. I use my experiences to inspire myself and inspire others. I know that I am strong. I can conquer anything. I can teach anyone to conquer anything. I am a survivor! I do not let go of my dreams. I just dream bigger now!

A few years ago, I decided that I really liked acting. I have a lot of energy and my parents put me in the theater. Soon I caught the bug. Then we moved out to California for my Dad’s job and I decided to try out an Acting camp in Los Angeles, where I really caught the bug! It suddenly became clear to me that THIS is what I was born to do. Before I knew it, I had an agent and a manager and I was auditioning for commercials and films. Suddenly I knew that all of these experiences I had and emotions I felt while in foster care, had a purpose and a place to express themselves. And that is exactly what I am doing. I am living my dream. Who would have ever guessed that this sassy little foster girl, without a home, without a family would end up an actress in Hollywood? But here I am! And three things got me here. God and his own plan, keeping my faith alive, and a few strangers willing to open their hearts and give me a chance!

And now that I am here, I know what my real purpose in life is. Acting is what I love to do. Using my voice to educate people and encourage others to being open to adopting a child from the system is my purpose. I want the world to know that adopting a child from foster care doesn't mean you are going to bring trouble into your life. Doesn't mean that you are getting damaged goods that cannot be fixed. Because inside we are all just dreaming and praying for a forever family to find us. For someone to give us a chance, support our dreams and find our own purpose. For someone to love us and accept us for who we are and where we came from, unconditionally. For someone to teach us what the word forever looks like. We want a last name that means something. We want to belong. That everyone doesn't just leave, but comes back too. For someone to help us apply to college and figure out what we want to study. To come home to at spring break. For someone to walk us down the isle and sit on our side of the church. For someone to bring our children home to at Christmastime and call Grandma and Grandpa. Someone to believe in us and teach us how to believe in ourselves. And we dream about this happening BEFORE we get to old and age out of the system. If you look up the word FOSTER In the dictionary, it means: to bring up, to nurture, to promote the growth and development of... to cherish. That is really what we want, to be cherished.

I am not just a previous foster child, I am Cassidy, and I AM A SURVIVOR!

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