25,000 children in California eligible for adoption

Jeff vonKaenel

My daughter’s name is Natasha. I thought of her a couple of weeks ago when I, along with many others, read out loud the first names and ages of 25,000 children eligible for adoption in California. As I spoke these names on the steps of the state Capitol, I knew that behind each of these names was a child—perhaps one of the young people I met when I visited the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, or one of the foster kids who put on the fashion show I enjoyed a few weeks back.

But when I arrived at the name “Natasha,” it hit home. These are kids. Kids with dreams and fears, big smiles and tears. Sometimes lots of tears. And homework, and chores, and earaches and bad dreams. They grow out of their clothes, and perhaps they have that peaceful look when they sleep. I always loved that look.

But, unlike my daughter, these kids don’t have secure homes. They have often been abused or neglected. They may be put out on the street when they turn 18, with only a garbage bag of belongings. Without support, many will go homeless and may become either the victim or perpetrator of a crime.

Over the last few weeks, I have been talking with people at various adoption agencies and Sacramento County about how to encourage more adoptions. It has been an honor to get to know these individuals, who have spent decades working with foster children: Gail Johnson, formerly of Sierra Adoption Services; David Ballard from the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento; Carroll Schroeder, California Alliance of Child and Family Services; Laura McCasland from Child Protective Services; Karen Alvord, Lilliput Children’s Services; Bob Herne from Sierra Forever Families; Nancy Born, Aspiranet; and Ellen Ammerman at EMQ FamiliesFirst. I am so impressed with their dedication, their focus, their sense of humor and their overwhelming love for the kids. I feel grateful, and I know the kids feel grateful for their service.

I know that many of the readers of SN&R would make great parents. And there are so many kids, especially over the age of 9, who need parents. At SN&R, we had the opportunity to see firsthand how a foster youth blossomed with his adopted parents. And we saw how much happiness he brought to our friend and co-worker who adopted him.

So please take a moment to reflect on your life and what you are doing on this planet. If you find that there is an empty place in your heart, or if you have enough love for one more child in your home, think about adopting or volunteering. Parenting a child is such an ordinary thing. But the outcome for both you and this child will be extraordinary.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.