When actress Sandra Bullock adopted her son, Louis Bardo Bullock, as an infant in New Orleans back in 2010, it sounded like a Hollywood story — which in a way it was, considering that Bullock won an Academy Award for playing a woman who adopted a teenager.
And now comes news that Bullock, 51, has returned to Louisiana to adopt another child, a 3 ½-year-old, as reported by People magazine online in advance of its issue due on newsstands Friday.
The little girl, named Laila, was adopted from foster care, according to the report. Bullock’s publicist said the star would have no comment.
Lori Arceneaux North, manager of the adoption program for Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans, adopted an 8-year-old, Ana, from foster care five years ago.
“I hope people see this as an example that people don’t have to be a newborn to be adopted,” she said.
Although VOA no longer handles adoptions from foster care, North said she hoped the high-profile case would highlight children who need permanent homes in the state.
According to the state Department of Children and Family Services’ website, there are about 3,900 children in foster care in Louisiana at any given time. Of those, as many as 400 are available for adoption.
New Orleans resident Scharmaine Lawson Baker and her husband adopted two children from the foster-care system, both as infants. She said as an African-American family, she was happy to see Bullock reinforce a commitment to Louisiana that includes the actress’ support of Warren Easton Charter High School.
“I was really excited because, first of all, she’s invested so much time and love and has embraced this city,” said Baker, a nurse practitioner. “I have so much respect for that. So when I heard she was adopting Louis, it showed she was putting her money where her mouth is. And she supports Warren Easton. We have that bond or connection in that we see the need to adopt children who are in the foster system.”
It isn’t the city’s first brush with celebrity adoptions. Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whose New Orleans ties include Pitt’s work with the Make It Right Foundation and their (now-for-sale) house in the French Quarter, have three children adopted internationally.
Fewer children are available from foreign countries these days, said Danna P. Cousins, Adoption Services program director for Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans. Catholic Charities focuses solely on infant adoptions and places 12 to 25 children a year.
“We’ve certainly seen changes in the community’s perception over the past 15 to 20 years in regard to transracial adoption,” said Cousins. “Anytime we can see positive attention given to adoption is wonderful for the entire adoption field — especially for children at greater risk in finding a home.”
Whenever a celebrity makes the move, it’s a good thing, said Grace Weber, public information officer for the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services’ Bureau of Communications and Governmental Affairs.
“Our goal is to find permanent homes for all of our foster children, so we are thrilled to hear about any finalized adoption,” Weber said in a statement. “A high-profile adoption like this helps to highlight the need for loving, forever homes.”