Weekly Columns

Mark and Tiffany Hansen introduced me to their daughter Ruth during my 100th mobile office event earlier this month. The Siloam Springs couple opened their hearts to adoption, but were greeted with a wall of bureaucracy when they tried to adopt a child from overseas. 

Every child deserves the love and support of a family, so I am glad that the Hansen’s reached out to my office. After my staff got involved, we were able to streamline the process and help the Hansen family welcome Ruth into their Arkansas home. 

To raise awareness of those children awaiting adoption in Arkansas and the 108,000 children in foster care nationwide, I joined my colleagues in the Senate to pass a resolution recognizing November 21, 2015 as National Adoption Day and November as National Adoption Month. I am proud to support the goals and ideals of National Adoption Month and encourage families to open their hearts and homes to children in need of a safe, loving, permanent home. 

Events marking National Adoption Day are planned throughout the state to celebrate adoptions that were finalized this year and for those children still waiting for their permanent family.  Last year, 711 Arkansas children and youth realized the dream of a forever family. Still, more than 700 children in our state are waiting to become part of a family. A large percentage of those are between the ages of 10 and 13. 

Arkansas has exceptional individuals who continuously advocate for children and the importance of growing up in a permanent and loving home. I’ve been honored to recognize the efforts of some of these champions through the Angels in Adoption program. 

This year I was proud to recognize Robin Tripod Patten as my 2015 Angel in Adoption. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and serves as the Director of Social Services at Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould. As a coordinator for adoptions, she provides emotional support to the birth mother and the adoptive parents. She also assists new and prospective parents in navigating complicated legal matters when contemplating adoption.   

As a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I’m joining efforts to build a better future for children by supporting changes to policies that help them realize the dream of a forever family. Last Congress, I cosponsored the Accuracy for Adoptees Act, which allows families of internationally adopted children to correct errors on their child’s birth certificate. This bill was signed into law. We’ve also made transitioning to schools easier for children in foster care, but there is still work to do. 

Nationwide more than 23,000 children age out of the foster care system every year with no family or permanent home. Research continues to show that children need the love and support of caring adults in order for them to thrive.

Fortunately, Arkansans are opening their hearts to children in need of a permanent family. Like the Hansens, families across the state are committed to sharing their love with children who need forever homes.