When I asked Kathy Ledesma, the National Project Director of AdoptUSKids, to share a story about how adoption has impacted her life, she did not hesitate.
Ledesma recalled a memory from her time as the Adoption Program Manager for the State of Oregon instantly.
In Kathy’s words:
“I reviewed every termination case in Oregon, but one stands out. A girl who had faced years of abuse was forced to live in a medical institution from her early adolescence. As she was set to turn 18, I signed off on her adoption. It turned out that a nurse at the institution where she resided, adopted her – despite knowing that the girl would likely be hospitalized the rest of her life due to the abuse she’d endured. That nurse believed this young girl deserved a family- she gave her one. No child is un-adoptable.”
Hearing that story gave me pause.
I was pleased to hear that there are people like that nurse in this world – those among us ready to step up for children in need no matter the personal sacrifice. I, however, felt badly that I don’t have that same courage.
I shared that lament with Ms. Ledesma, saying, “Wow. I don’t think I could do that. In fact, Kathy, I know I couldn’t.”
The brief silence that followed made me think of the long-standing AdoptUSKids tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.”
No one is perfect. Coming to grips with that fact, helps me get over feeling unworthy.
The truth is, making an impact for children awaiting families is not only about becoming a foster parent or starting an adoption process.
During National Adoption Month, in fact, there is a deeper call to action – one as much about bringing new families in as it is about garnering more interest around adoption and foster care.
Yes, more families are needed to foster and adopt.
Yes, the rise of opioid abuse in America has driven more older children into foster care.
But, no, I don’t have to be ready today to foster or adopt to make a difference.
As Kathy Ledesma explains, “If any person has interest, any level of interest, I’d tell them to please pick up the phone or go to our website. As the theme of National Adoption Month says, ‘Just Ask Us’.”
Ledesma is passionate as she continues, “There are so many ways to help – call a local agency and ask about their needs, contribute to local school supply drives or check out a gift tree for youth who are in foster care at the holidays. One of the best ways to help is to wrap around and support families currently fostering in your community. Genuinely ask if you can help in any way – financial or other. If that interest, that curiosity, leads you to fostering in the future, great. If not, you are still helping kids who desperately need it.”
No one is perfect and no one is powerless.
I can help.
So can you.
Talking to Kathy Ledesma or reaching out to AdoptUSKids tells us so.
In November, during National Adoption Month, and in all the days that follow, you need not be perfect – just be interested.
AdoptUSKids National Adoption Month Events:
On November 15th, a series of new AdoptUSKids public service advertisements will begin to air nationally. The new PSAs depict parents exploring creative solutions to parenting challenges, such as a father helping his daughter improve her grades in French class, and a mother with a cat allergy trying to accommodate her son’s request for a family pet.
The PSAs end with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring prospective parents that even if they are not ‘perfect’, they can provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve.
On November 15th, join AdoptUSKids on Facebook for a live Adoption Q & A:
Adopting Older Youth from Foster Care
Facebook Live Event
Join us Tuesday Nov 15 at 2pm
ask questions * hear stories * learn more
Our mission is to:
- Raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system
- Assist US states, territories, and tribes to recruit, engage, develop and support foster and adoptive families
About Kathy Ledesma
Since 2008, Kathy Ledesma has been National Project Director for AdoptUSKids, which is administered by Adoption Exchange Association through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Since AdoptUSKids began in 2002, more than 26,000 children and youth previously photolisted on www.adoptuskids.org have been placed with permanent adoptive families, in part due to a highly successful PSA campaign, produced in partnership with the Ad Council, using the tagline “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.