I had the honor of helping to pay tribute to Idahoan Dixie Weber who was recognized as a 2017 Angel in Adoption for her work as an adoption advocate. Dixie is the Women’s Services Administrator at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. She is a nurse and health care leader who has dedicated more than 15 years to supporting families considering and participating in adoption. Dixie joins the 28 other extraordinary Idahoans who have been honored with the title Angels in Adoption since the award’s inception 19 years ago. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute provides the recognition “to honor the good work of individuals, couples and organizations who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans.” Dixie Weber’s work is a reminder of the importance of adoption in making the dream of a family a reality for every child.
Child Trends — an organization that compiles data on our nation’s children and youth — reports the top three reasons children enter foster care in Idaho are neglect, 89 percent; inability to cope, 42 percent; and parental substance abuse, 41 percent. In November, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing that every child should have a permanent and loving family and encouraged the people of the United States to consider adoption during the month of November — National Adoption Month — and throughout the year. The resolution contained the following national statistics:
- There are 427,910 children in the foster care system in the United States, approximately 111,820 of whom are waiting for families to adopt them
- 62 percent of the children in foster care in the United States are age 10 or younger
- The average length of time a child spends in foster care is approximately two years
- Every day, loving and nurturing families are strengthened and expanded when committed and dedicated individuals make an important difference in the life of a child through adoption
- While nearly a quarter of individuals in the United States have considered adoption, a majority of them have misconceptions about the process of adopting children from foster care and the children who are eligible for adoption
- 50 percent of individuals in the United States believe that children enter the foster care system because of juvenile delinquency; in reality the vast majority of children who have entered the foster care system were victims of neglect, abandonment or abuse
- 39 percent of individuals in the United States believe that foster care adoption is expensive; there is no substantial cost for adopting from foster care and financial support is available to adoptive parents after an adoption is finalized
President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation recognizing the loving families across the nation who adopt thousands of children and acknowledging the strength of the children who still wait to find homes. He characterized adoption as “a true blessing that greatly enriches the lives of thousands of families who have expanded through adoption,” and defined the charge ahead to support this gift, “We must continue to remove barriers to adoption whenever we can, so that the love and care of prospective adoptive parents can be directed to children waiting for their permanent homes.”
This holiday season, as we are reminded of the importance of family — both those we are born into and the those we create through gathering a circle of supporting loved ones — I commend Dixie Weber and all those working to advance adoption in Idaho, including adoption families and adoptees. You are doing great work to enhance the lives of Idaho children and the families who are blessed with their addition.