My mom likes to tell me about the first time she met me. She walked into a room, took one look at me, and knew right away that I was her baby. It was love at first sight, and it gives me chills every time she tells the story.
I've always known I was adopted, but I've also always known who my family was. It was the mom and dad who gave me a safe place to go home from school. Who loved me unconditionally. Who supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams -- which led all the way to The X Factor stage and the opportunity to sing, act and provide hope to other kids like me.
Every kid deserves to have a home and a family. Sadly, there are more than 100,000 kids available for adoption in foster care today who don't have either. This year, more than 26,000 of them will age out of the foster care system without a family to call their own. These kids deserve to feel wanted and loved. We all do.
But, I'm here today to tell them one thing: Love is going to find you always. There is an amazing family out there just waiting to call you their own. Until you meet, don't lose hope and keep love within your own heart.
I know my dreams would not be possible without my family. I discovered what I love to do, using my creative talents and gifts to bring a smile to other people's faces, and my family has been right there with me every step of the way. If it weren't for my mom, dad, sister, grandma, aunts, uncles and entire extended family, I never would have been able to stand in front of Simon Cowell and sing one of Beyoncé's songs. That takes strength that only a family can give you.
Our dreams are what give us hope and confidence to get through tough times and live a great life. The next computer genius who will design the next smartphone or the next great American author or a future amazing chef are all waiting in foster care for the family that will help them meet their full potential. No matter what, the love of a forever family is the greatest dream realized of all.
National Adoption Day will be on Nov. 23 (the Saturday before Thanksgiving), and I am honored to be part of this year's efforts to raise awareness of the children in foster care and celebrate kids who have found their forever families.
National Adoption Day is one day of the year we set aside to get the message out about foster care adoption. The best way we can do that, as families who found each other through foster care adoption, is to share our stories. When people see our families, our successes and our joys, it instantly dispels myths about the process and offers them encouragement to grow their own families through foster care adoption.
Just by living our lives, fulfilling our dreams and sharing our stories, we have an amazing opportunity to help children find their forever families. Research done by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption shows that if someone has a personal connection to foster care adoption -- especially if they know someone who has gone through the process -- they are more likely to view it positively. And that's the exact movement we need to be a part of to make sure every child has a loving family to call their own.
For all the families who are celebrating National Adoption Day this year, I hope it is amazing for you. And that all your dreams are now, and always, coming true.
This longer version of this article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Adoption Today.
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