South Dakota Families Honored During National Adoption Month
The month of November is recognized as National Adoption Month, a time to raise awareness of children in need of a permanent, loving home. Opening one’s home to a child in need of a loving family and secure environment is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. And as many adoptive families have told me, they too feel blessed to have their kids. The countless South Dakota families who have chosen adoption continue to be an inspiration to us all.
Take the O’Connor family from Rapid City for example. Earlier this year, I nominated Sean and Caresa O’Connor for the Angels in Adoption award presented by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. This award shines a light on loving families who have welcomed children in need of a permanent home. Sean and Caresa adopted two children, RJ and Winnie. They and their three other children, Libby, Maggie and Finn, have made a home for these two new members of the family. It was an honor to nominate the O’Connors for the Angels in Adoption award this year.
If you’re a regular reader of our weekly columns, you may remember that we featured the O’Connor family in an August column after I nominated them for the award. Caresa and Sean first looked into adoption when their daughter Libby, who was then in high school, suggested to her mom that there was another child out there who was meant to be in their family. After contacting an adoption attorney, the O’Connors were notified three weeks later that they’d be able to adopt their daughter Winnie. A short time later, they decided to adopt RJ, so Winnie could have a sibling closer to her age. As Caresa told us at the time, God matches you with the child who is meant to join your family.
The entire O’Connor family recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to be recognized for receiving the Angels in Adoption award. While I was with Jean during her most recent round of cancer treatment, staff met with the O’Connors in my Washington office to hear their story firsthand and celebrate their unwavering bond. They were also joined by Mike and Kim Adams, and their children Malia, Mason, Josiah, Amanuel, Eva, Selena and Shakira, who were nominated for the award by Sen. John Thune.
More than 100,000 children and teens are awaiting adoption in the United States. Having the stability of a permanent family can make a big impact on the lives of young people. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, teens who age out of foster care without permanent family connections are at a higher risk for homelessness and human trafficking. All children deserve a family, and I encourage anyone considering adoption to talk to others who have gone through the adoption process. If you’d like to speak with someone about adoption, Bethany Christian Services has offices in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. Additionally, the Administration for Children and Families can provide some resources for adoptive and foster parents. Contact information can be found on their website, www.acf.hhs.gov.
I’m inspired by all those who choose to create their families or add to their families through adoption. This National Adoption Month, I thank adoptive parents and foster parents for providing a safe, welcoming place for kids to grow up.