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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Finding adoptive homes

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012, at 4:32 PM

Entering this holiday season, our thoughts turn even more frequently toward family. It is a time for gatherings, reunions and giving thanks for the love and blessings we share with those closest to us. It is also a time to remember that there are hundreds of children in Arkansas looking for permanent homes, with loving, supportive families.

November is National Adoption Month, when we make special note of the more than 400 children in Arkansas waiting to find adoptive homes. Families who adopt find not only the satisfaction of helping a child grow and reach their full potential, they also find themselves forever changed by the experience. Adopted children are able to grow up with roots, strong family ties and stability. As with any family, these are foundations that can be a launching pad for happy, successful lives.

From July 2011 to July 2012, Arkansas finalized 674 adoptions - the most adoptions that our State has ever seen in any 12-month period. More Arkansans are opening their homes and their hearts to these children every year. As Governor, it is my hope that every child eligible for adoption finds a loving home.

Not every child gets the opportunity to grow up in a caring, stable family; many children have parents who are unwilling or unable to care for them. Sometimes it's because of an illness or death in their biological family; other times it's because of neglect or abuse. The circumstances are less important than the unfortunate situation these children find themselves in through no fault of their own. In Arkansas, kids eligible for adoption are waiting to be chosen, but most will wait more than two years to be adopted. And more than half will "age out" at 18, becoming ineligible for adoption without ever knowing the security of a permanent home.

My wife, Ginger, was adopted at age four, after being in and out of several foster homes. She and her sister benefitted enormously in life from having a support system they could call their own. Every child deserves the same opportunity to be placed with a compassionate and attentive family. I encourage you to visit adoptarkansas.org, where you can learn more about some of the kids who hope to be adopted. This Web site, a joint effort between the Department of Human Services and local community partners, contains photos and stories of children waiting for adoption. Families considering opening their homes can also learn more about the process and the commitments involved.

This month, we celebrate families who adopt, and we encourage others to consider making the same caring choice. Arkansans are known for their willingness to help others, and adopting a child is perhaps the ultimate expression of generosity. And, like most acts of generosity, adoptive families often find that they gain even more than they give. If you think you may be interested in adoption, please contact the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services at DHS online or by calling (501) 682-8462. Thank you.

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