By Governor Dave Heineman
Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
It is very important that our children are safe and in homes that provide support and love. It's a privilege and an honor to recognize the caring families who are choosing to adopt children who are state wards.
All children deserve to grow up in a loving and stable family, and National Adoption Month is a great opportunity to personally thank all of the wonderful foster and adoptive parents in our state who have made a difference in a child's life.
I especially want to thank the families who have opened their hearts and homes to children in foster care who are looking for forever families. Many of these foster parents have adopted the children in their care. They have made a life-long commitment that will absolutely transform the lives of children in our state.
I'm pleased that Nebraska courts, advocates, caseworkers and others within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services are working together to focus on finding permanent homes for the children who need them. Their efforts are evident in the more than 92 percent increase in adoptions of state wards during the past five years. Last year alone, there were 572 children adopted from foster care in our state. Those adoptions represent the most adoptions of state wards Nebraska has achieved in any year so far.
To commemorate National Adoption Month, Juvenile judges across the country will open their court rooms on a Saturday in November for special adoption hearings for children who are state wards. This month, judges in Lincoln, Hastings and Omaha will finalize the adoption of nearly 100 of these children in Nebraska. Several other judges, churches and community groups in cities across state are planning celebrations to honor families touched by adoption this year.
Additionally, courts in O'Neill, Grand Island, Kearney, and Scottsbluff/Gering are celebrating all of their adoptions for the year. I've attended these events in past years. It's a heart-warming and exciting day. I have special admiration for the families that have welcomed new children into their lives. I appreciate the dedication of the juvenile judges who make sure that children in need have permanent loving families.
If you'd like to make a difference in the life of a child who is a state ward, please call 1-800-7-PARENT for information about becoming an adoptive or foster parent. Adoptive families are needed for approximately 100 children in foster care who are available for adoption and looking for permanent families.
Information about many of these children is available online at www.dhhs.ne.gov/adoption/children.htm and www.nebraskaheartgallery.org.