Finding love in forever homes
County celebrates adoptive families, foster parents
It’s that time of year again — children are making their wish lists for Santa Claus as their families are busy arranging road trips, making hotel reservations or booking plane flights in hopes of being with loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday.
While Thanksgiving is a time for people to give thanks in appreciation of all that they have, others wish they had a family to not only celebrate the holiday with, but also loved ones who they can call their own.
National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of more than 100,000 children in foster care who, on average, have to wait nearly three years to be adopted into permanent and loving homes. Since its inception 17 years ago, the annual event has made the dreams of thousands of children come true by working with policymakers, practitioners and advocates to finalize adoptions as well as create, connect and celebrate forever families, according to the National Adoption Day website.
In honor of the 17th annual occasion, the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County in Upper Marlboro held a ceremony Nov. 17 to celebrate the finalization of nearly 60 adoptions of children since the beginning of the year. More than a dozen new and returning adoptive families attended the ceremony, which featured special presentations and guest speakers.
“To have an opportunity to participate in this and find joy in the work that we do everyday is important,” Prince George’s County Department of Social Services Director Gloria Brown Burnett said in an interview. “It is a long process and it’s sometimes a frustrating process for families. So when we have an opportunity to bring it to closure like this, it’s important. It makes my heart proud and it helps us to stay motivated on why we do the work that we do.”
“This is my heart because I am an adoptive parent,” said Associate Judge Beverly J. Woodard, who adopted her daughter through the social services department 25 years ago. “As a single parent, I did it and I’m just fully supportive of adoption. It’s been everything to me and I think it’s meant the world to my daughter.”
For Woodard, the adoption process was quite a challenge. Woodard, whose daughter was seven months old at the time, couldn’t officially adopt her until the age of 3.
“You always have to respect the rights of the biological parents and sometimes that’s a long process. They don’t necessarily agree,” Woodard said.
Woodard said adoption is so important because every child needs to feel loved and needed. There’s no such thing as being too old to be part of a family — it’s a beautiful thing to see people of all ages find forever homes, from the babies to the adults, she said.
“It’s definitely special for us,” said Paul Williams, father of three biological children who adopted a baby girl with his wife. “I think it put some things in perspective because a lot of these kids need us. They need somebody to take them in and hopefully take them down the right path and guide them in the right direction.”
After waiting a year to adopt their 2-year-old daughter, Angel, who was born premature, Williams said he and his wife are starting their life all over again.
“We just fell in love with her,” said the Upper Marlboro res-
Laurel residents Donald and Lisa Wicks stand with their adoptive daughter, 22-year-old Catherine Sanders, during a reception for National Adoption Day on Nov. 17 at the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County in Upper Marlboro. The Wicks family adopted Sanders, who is currently a senior at Towson University, earlier this year in June.