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Kevin Patterson: How to help more foster children find homes

Each year, we gather together at the holidays to give thanks for our families and count our blessings. For thousands of children in Arizona’s state care, this cherished celebration is just a dream.

In the United States, there are more than 100,000 children waiting in foster care who need permanent, loving families, and many have been waiting years to be adopted. In Arizona alone, more than 18,000 children in our state care are waiting for families they can call their own. But there is hope.

National Adoption Day, which was held on Nov. 21, is an annual one-day event that has made the dreams of thousands of children come true by working with dedicated policymakers, practitioners and advocates to finalize adoptions and create forever families. This special day celebrates the joys of adoption and encourages more people to create or grow their families through adoption.

As a parent who adopted with my partner, I encourage others to consider opening their families to children who are waiting for families to call their own. By giving these children stable, loving environments, you will make a powerful difference in their lives. And you get back incredible joys and rewards.

And we must now, more than ever before, make it a priority to raise awareness of the thousands of children in Arizona waiting to be adopted and help to create forever families. One way we can work to achieve this goal is to reduce barriers within the foster care and adoption process that prevent children from being placed in loving, stable homes. Homes where they can be nurtured and feel safe — the basic things that every child deserves.

There are same-sex couples who are successful and by every definition would make incredible parents who are being denied the right to adopt because of legal, institutional and discriminatory barriers in Arizona. Regardless of the reasons, the fact that kids and prospective parents are being kept apart is unacceptable, and we are working to change that with Project Jigsaw.

 Project Jigsaw is a grassroots campaign recently launched by Equality Arizona and Arizona’s Children Association. We are working with our coalition members to create an environment where all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, are provided the opportunity to build a loving family for amazing children.

We have too many children who age out of the system with no place to call home, no family to support them, no table to join for the holidays. It’s time for Arizonans to come together and do everything we can to help these children and change that.


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