National Adoption Month Guest Blog by Yuri Kimura, Program Director over Foster Care, Adoptions, and Destination Family, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families

November 22, 2022

National Adoption Month

Guest Blog by Yuri Kimura, Program Director over Foster Care, Adoptions, and Destination Family, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families

For more than thirty years in the Sacramento area, passionate child advocates, lawmakers, stakeholders, adoptive parents, and individuals from state and local agencies have taken a pause together in November to mark National Adoption Day. Part vigil, remembrance, and awareness of the many youth awaiting permanency in California– and part celebration of Adoptive Families of the Year, the event was held on the steps of the Capitol, year after year, no matter the weather.  Local adoption agencies and advocacy organizations partnered on the planning and coordination of the day-long event, in which volunteer speakers would, for several minutes at a time, call out the name and age of youth in care seeking forever families. Every year, there were more names in the very large binder on the podium than could be recited throughout the entire day. As the day came to a close, adoption agencies would come forward and recognize their Adoptive Families of the Year, who would then briefly share their stories of how they came to adopt a youth out of foster care. Both the Calling Out of Names and the celebration of the Adoptive Families of the Year were powerful reminders to all who were present about the need for permanency for our youth in care.

Like everything else, the pandemic shifted how we held this annual event.  In 2020, as the lead organizing agency, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families was on track to host a hybrid event in which speakers were invited to call out the names from our main office in Sacramento as viewers joined in on Zoom.  However, with cases ticking up, we made a last minute shift to make it an all-virtual event – and appreciated the grace and patience from all involved.  The event remained virtual in 2021.  As planning began for 2022, it remained unclear what November would bring in terms of our ability to gather.  Recognizing that Zoom exhaustion was real and in order to reach a broader audience, we shifted to a collaborative social media campaign to continue to bring visibility to the need for permanency through adoption for youth in care.  Throughout this month, partnering Sacramento agencies are posting information about adoption at the national and state level on their social media sites (with thanks to the Children’s Bureau for ideas through their NAM Outreach Toolkit). Adoptive Families of the Year will continue to be celebrated with video postings and some agencies will post additional video messages from their leadership regarding the importance of National Adoption Month.  We do this with the hope that we can once again come together in person in 2023.  

11,880. That is the number of children in California, who have been in placement for at least 24 months and are not living with relatives, per our partners at the California Department of Social Services Research and Data Insights Branch.  The number is a point in time (September 26th, 2022) and pulled from CWS/CMS. Perhaps, with increased family finding or child specific recruitment efforts, some of these youth will find permanency in the coming months.  Many will not. We know that many on this list are teens, some are a part of large sibling sets, and others are LGBTQ+ - and we also know the additional risks youth will face if they age out of care.  Some names are read year after year. With that in mind, we remind our community and ourselves every year how many children are waiting and what we will do to bring that number down.   

Special thanks to the following Sacramento area adoption agencies who have collaborated on National Adoption Day over the years:

Alternative Family Services |Better Life Children Services | California Alliance of Child and Family Services |California Department of Social Services | Koinonia Family Services | Lilliput- a part of Wayfinder | Pacific Clinics | Sacramento County  | Stanford Sierra Youth & Families

I close with the spirit of the Calling Out of Names.  My name is Yuri Kimura and I am a Program Director over Foster Care, Adoptions, and Destination Family at Stanford Sierra Youth & Families.  I wrote this blog post today because I believe that every youth deserves a forever family and no youth is unadoptable.  I will speak for Selene, age 10.  Zoey, age 3. Hannah, age 15.  Julian, age 6.  Angel, age 10.  Ana, age 17. Brandon, age 13.  Danny age 16. Sara, age 13, Jason, age 10 … Is there anyone else who will speak for the children?

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