I was privileged to finally attend Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI)’s annual Angels in Adoption Gala this year. For years I was able to attend events surrounding CCAI but I have never attended the Gala so it was a treat to sit amongst all of the “angels” and enjoy the night.
For some background, CCAI is an organization working to raise awareness about the needs of children in the foster care system or in need of adoption who do not have families of their own. They also work to support lawmakers to create and change policy surrounding vulnerable children. Each year, CCAI hosts an Angels in Adoption Gala that recognizes individuals, groups and/or organizations who have made considerable contributions in the lives of children and honors them as “angels.” It is a celebration of the sometimes unseen work and sacrifice of people around the country who are opening their hearts and homes to kids who are in need of families.
One of the highlights from the Gala was hearing from a young man, Erik, who shared his story of growing up in the foster care system until finally finding his “forever” family. Erik described feeling lost in group homes until his new father and mother brought him into their living room, at the age of 18, and asked if they could adopt him. “That is just not done,” Erik said of the rareness of being adopted at such an older age. He described his sense of joy and transformation of this new sense of belonging and having a family to call his own. After Erik shared his story, his father surprised him on stage and told the crowd how proud he was of his son.
After spending a summer with CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program, he is finishing up his degree in social work and graduating this spring. Erik was one of the approximately 397,000 children who are living without permanent families in the United States. He is an example of how the love and security of belonging to a family can transform lives and give kids a hope for a brighter future.
In addition to honoring the “angels” and kids like Erik, Members of Congress and organizations working in adoption, foster care and kinship care shared their stories and desire for better solutions for kids who are awaiting families. Congressman Trent Franks, co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Congressional Caucus for Foster Youth and the newly organized Orphans and Vulnerable Children Caucus has been a tireless advocate for children in Congress. It was wonderful to chat with him and hear about the work he is doing. Buckner International‘s President and CEO Dr. Albert Reyes and Margaret Elizabeth McKissack shared the work they are doing in Texas and around the world to impact vulnerable children and families.
To support the work of CCAI – visit their website here!