For the past three years, Zeno has had the pleasure of working with the Alliance for Children’s Rights to promote National Adoption Day in Los Angeles. Each year, we’ve helped bring in local media to garner coverage of the event and helped out on the ground to connect media with families ready to tell their stories.
This year, I took on the project with two of my fellow Zenoids. Together we prepped for weeks, conducting media outreach and follow-up until the morning of the event. Upon arrival at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court of Los Angeles, we hit the ground running, directing media to the event, introducing them to media-prepped families, supervising interviews and providing media with all necessary event information.
Putting a Face to a National Issue
Media love to attend National Adoption Day, and we’ve found that working with the Alliance for Children’s Rights to ensure media have access to press-ready families has been the key to great media coverage. The Alliance focuses on the humanization of the adoption process, and putting faces to these already incredible stories helps immensely with media engagement. One of our favorite stories about National Adoption Day was put together by ABC7 Eyewitness News, and features interviews with several adoptive families.
While assisting with media interviews, it’s impossible to overlook the pure joy in the faces of each family member being interviewed. Some families have been waiting months, or sometimes even years to make their families official and complete, and National Adoption Day allows them the opportunity to do so.
The National Adoption Day Experience
I don’t think there are many occurrences in which there are so many truly wonderful people gathered in one building. Each adoptive family has opened their arms lovingly to their foster children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or stepchildren – and not only that – but they’ve fought and endured to allow these children the same legal rights and privileges as any genetic child.
Marc and Nestor Bennett adopted their sons Landon and Parker on National Adoption Day 2014, and this year they were adopting the boys’ biological younger sister, Josephine. Single mother Antoya White adopted 2-year-old Tayvion, who she was asked to babysit two years ago, but no one ever returned for him. Ester Barrios taught her son Matthew, who has severe spinal and brain damage, to walk and talk after he was shaken severely as a baby. Because of her, Matthew can say, “I love you” on the day of his official adoption. These are the people we have the opportunity of working with.
Understandably, we are so thrilled that we are able to be a part of this wonderful day and that we can meet and interact with such amazing, open-hearted individuals and their children. We even sat in on the adoption of 8-year-old Jocelyn and her 9-year-old brother, Alex, which was assisted by Fast & Furious actress Jordana Brewster. As a member of the Alliance of Moms, Jordana is an activist for adoptive mothers and their families. She stood alongside the family and their lawyer as the judge ordered Alex and Jocelyn members of the Pelletier-Kass family.
A Day of Happily Ever Afters
There’s nothing quite like witnessing the adoption proceedings, which often times signify the end of a long waiting period, but also the beginning of a new family’s time together. The judge explains to the family that the adopted child will have the same rights and privileges as any child by blood, and announces the child’s new, official full name. Most families cry, clap, hug and celebrate, leaving the courtroom knowing their lives have been changed for the better.
These are the days that our work is the most rewarding, when you know you’ve helped tell an important story and given a voice to those who deserve to be heard. At the end of the day, we were able to secure media coverage around the adoption of 160 Los Angeles-area children and bring awareness to the more than 400,500 children in foster care who are still waiting to find permanent, loving homes. We’re excited to continue our work with the Alliance for Children’s Rights, and can only hope that next year’s National Adoption Day will bring even more joy and happy unions than in years before.
For more information on National Adoption Day and the Alliance for Children’s Rights, visit: http://kids-alliance.org/