adoption.tam.112218.14

Judge Scott Gardner poses with the Bush Family at National Adoption Day which was celebrated at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center in Covington, La., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Four local families met at third floor jury pool room at the courthouse to celebrate before appearing in court to process their adoption.

Around almost a thousand Thanksgiving tables this year, new families have come into being for children who needed them the most.

It is worth celebrating when adoptions from foster care rise by 18 percent over a year.

Louisiana set a record for the twelve months before Oct. 1, with 912 finalized adoptions of children coming from the foster system. That was up from 771 adoptions in the previous twelvemonth period, then the record. Some families adopted more than one child.

The state Department of Children and Family Services has made adoption a priority, with staff support to help families make the leap from fostering — itself one of the most important ways a family can help a child — to adoption.

In many cases, the children who come to DCFS are from homes broken by tragedy or by abuse of the young people involved.

Caring for them, placing them in the foster system, promoting adoption into new families — all these are among the hardest tasks that government must undertake, something that can’t be solved with a new website or other business-school fad.

The department now has more resources to deal with these difficult situations, having been something of a stepchild itself in the budget cuts of the previous administration.

The governor and Legislature have helped to fund more staff and try to reduce turnover in the child welfare system. The nature of the challenges facing caring for children from often troubled backgrounds requires personal commitment and attention.

The department has seen an increase in the number of families adopting more than one child, including groups of siblings. Keeping siblings together can be another challenge; if it is not possible, DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said, it is one of the most heart-wrenching decisions facing those working in the foster system.

The department and new adoptive parents celebrated the success of the year with an event in Baton Rouge this month, appropriately given the Thanksgiving holiday. The first lady, Donna Edwards, praised the work of DCFS and its partners in community organizations and churches.

The old saying about “it takes a village” does come to mind, because of the collaboration that makes this kind of work successful. The state honored Northpoint Community Church in Shreveport and adoption advocates and staff from Monroe to Covington. All these efforts can be improved by collaboration.  But it takes a family to gather a child around the Thanksgiving table, with a more secure future ahead to allow a young person a second chance at a better life.