Currently, there are more than 391,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Those eligible for adoption wait an average of nearly three years to be placed in a permanent home. “It’s not good for a child to not know each day —who’s my family, where am I going to be, and if I misbehave, am I going to get kicked out?” Adoptions Together founder and CEO Janice Goldwater says. She shares the story of a child’s former school bus driver spotting him on TV and reaching out to her agency. “She said, I always loved that child; he’s a great kid and I had no idea he was in foster care. I’d like to know about him. And I’d like to consider adopting him.”
That TV program was NBC4’s “Finding Families” segment hosted by Melissa Mollet. Each month, it features one child from the Adoptions Together’s online photo gallery (or “Heart Gallery”) in need of a permanent home. Mollet, who grew up watching Barbara Harrison’s “Wednesday’s Child” segments on NBC4, was inspired to pitch “Finding Families” and continue the station’s decades-long history of helping foster children find a forever home. “When I joined WRC-TV back in 2010, Barbara became a dear friend. When my husband and I decided to adopt, Barbara became a guide and sounding board throughout our own adoption journey,” Mollet says. “My experience with our adoption fit right into what the station had done for so many years. And I just love interviewing these kids. They’re insightful old souls, who want nothing more than a place to belong and for someone to love – truly love – them. That’s what we all want, right?”
When Goldwater founded Adoptions Together in 1990, the adoption landscape in the U.S. was fraught with challenges. “For healthy, majority-race infants, if their parents wanted to choose adoption for them, they had every opportunity to work with a licensed child placement agency. Everybody else went to a department of social services where kids would often spend years in foster care before getting adopted,” she says. “I started Adoptions Together with the goal of welcoming every child that was in need of a family regardless of their race, their health, their age, or any single variable that impacted them as a human being.”
Adoptions Together wouldn’t limit prospective parents by factors like religious affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The agency would offer counseling services that really understood the unique needs of the population, developing culturally competent practices available to children and families before, during, and after placement.
Now in its 33rd year, the Calverton-based nonprofit has placed thousands of children in permanent homes and continues to serve families through every step of the adoption process. Goldwater, an adoptive parent herself, is careful not to romanticize adoption, emphasizing the benefits of ongoing counseling support and education. Adoptions Together offers a 30-hour training program prior to adoption that helps parents understand behaviors they might see in their children, strategies to manage those behaviors, and how they can help their child heal from the difficult things that may have happened in their past.
If families feel inspired but don’t personally have the capacity or desire to adopt a child, they can always volunteer, Goldwater encourages. “This is a grassroots organization in our 33rd year and it’s because the community stepped up and got involved that we’ve been able to do the work. So if anyone is looking for a new project or some meaning in their life and adoption is not their thing, there’s plenty that they can do.”
Adoptions Together is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit adoption agency that has provided adoption home studies, infant adoption, and foster care adoption services since 1990. The organization offers extensive post-adoption support as well as 24-hour support to birth parents considering placing a child for adoption. To learn more, donate, or volunteer:
adoptionstogether.org | @adoptionstogether
“I started Adoptions Together with the goal of welcoming every child that was in need of a family regardless of their race, their health, their age, or any single variable that impacted them as a human being.”
Mollet, who grew up watching Barbara Harrison’s “Wednesday’s Child” segments on NBC4, was inspired to pitch “Finding Families” and continue the station’s decades-long history of helping foster children find a forever home.