Twelve years running, Taste in Potomac is an event that promises full stomachs and hearts as the annual fundraiser for Adoptions Together, a local nonprofit that specializes in forging families of all kinds. Each year, the community gathers to celebrate the idea that “family is everything,” according to Founder and Executive Director Janice Goldwater.
“It’s because somebody loved us that we were able to get up this morning and step into the world.”
Neighbors gathered on Sept. 21 to sample local fare in support of the organization’s work and witness firsthand how they’re making a difference. Among this year’s honorees were Brian and Kate Detwiler, who adopted their now 3-year-old son through Adoptions Together.
“Nolan was born with his intestines on the outside; he almost died,” Janice says. “The hospital called and said they didn’t know if he’d make it, but could we find him a family? And because we welcome every child who needs us, we said, 'absolutely.'”
The Detwilers learned about Nolan just six months after entering Adoptions Together’s waiting parent pool.
“We could have opted to wait for a healthier child, but what would that mean for Nolan?” Kate says. “There was a child in front of us in need of a home and parents. And wasn’t being a parent all we were asking to be? In the end, we are so glad we took that leap. Nolan still receives nearly 100% of his nutrients through a central line to his heart and a gastrostomy tube to his stomach, but he is an extremely bright, sociable and thriving 3-year-old. We can't imagine our family any other way.”
Stories like the Detwilers’ are exactly what Adoptions Together hoped to help create when it opened its doors to the community in 1990. Janice sought to close a gap that she’d witnessed in her years of adoption work: Most local agencies weren’t truly inclusive.
“There were some real barriers for prospective single parents, same-sex parents, parents of different religious groups, mixed-race parents,” she says. “Moms would come to us after having delivered a child that was positive for HIV or had cocaine in their system and their agencies would have literally left them at the hospital saying, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.’ Adoptions Together stepped into that spot of welcoming everybody.”
After infant adoption, Adoptions Together moved into international adoptions, then children in state foster care. (Right now, there are 110,000 kids across the U.S. in foster care right now waiting to be adopted.) The organization also strives to serve as a holistic support system, focusing on education and counseling.
“Having what we call adoption-competent services is really important,” Janice says. “Services by professionals who understand the unique core issues that our children and families face—the grief and loss that the children face, identity issues for kids who don’t look like their parents, those not raised in the family they were born into.”
Janice even adopted one of her own children, an experience that reaffirmed her dedication to her life’s work.
“When I see my own child—how hurt she was early in life, how resilient and dynamic she’s become, what a force of life she is—I’m so thankful. Seeing older kids who haven’t been claimed find a family, or the tears in parents’ eyes as babies are handed to them … there’s nothing like it.”
For more information about Adoptions Together, visit AdoptionsTogether.org.