WASHINGTON -- Happy stories coming out of the District of Columbia's Moultrie Courthouse are few and far between. But Saturday, there will be plenty of smiles at the 25th annual Adoption Day, hosted by the D.C. Superior Court and the city's Child and Family Services Agency.
Adoptions are usually completed in closed courtrooms. But for one day a year -- the Saturday before Thanksgiving -- public adoption ceremonies are held all over the country for children leaving the foster care system.
In the D.C. courthouse, 31 kids will be formally adopted in a public ceremony attended by these new families, their friends and relatives, plus families from Adoption Days past, who come back each year to celebrate. The children will be introduced to the audience with their adoptive families as a judge signs their adoption orders. The boys and girls being adopted on Saturday range in age from less than one to 20 years old.
"We're going to need extra tissues," predicted Judge Juliet McKenna, a D.C. family court judge.
McKenna, one of more than a dozen D.C. judges who have themselves adopted children, said the ceremony will "celebrate the families being created that day." Just as importantly, she said, Adoption Day serves to raise awareness in the community about adoption and "the need for more families to come forward and provide homes for kids, particularly in the foster care system."
There are 160 children in the District's foster care system currently looking for permanent homes. Professional portraits of some of them will be on display in the courthouse on Saturday, and there will be screenings of "Wednesday's Child," a weekly WRC-TV/NBC4 news segment featuring kids with special needs who are looking for adoptive families.
Social workers will be on hand to answer questions about how to become a foster or adoptive parent. Adoption Day will also feature lunch and entertainment.
"We try to make it very child-friendly," McKenna said. "Most of our audience is under the age of 10."
D.C.'s Adoption Day will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon. The ceremony will be held in the third-floor atrium at the Moultrie Courthouse (500 Indiana Ave. NW).
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