Gary and Ellen are the proud parents of nine children -- one biological and eight adopted. The adoption of six of those children, a sibling group, occurred just before Ellen had surgery. She beat breast cancer.
Cheryl's family is about to get even bigger. In just a few days her family will finalize the adoption of their 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th children. Cheryl tells me "It is an honor to give these children, the love, and family every child should have."
Othella never married or gave birth but when she met her son Olige -- she instantly fell in love. A life-threatening tragedy left him with traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, seizures and hearing loss. She describes the day she met him as "the best day ever".
Gary, Ellen, Cheryl and Othella are clearly heroes. They have opened their homes and their hearts to children in situations many of us would run from. In a few days, I will get to meet three of these extraordinary people as I address a crowd of over 500 people at Furman University in Greenville, SC. On November 16, 2014, The "Hero Family Celebration" will bring together hundreds of families who have been formed through foster care adoption and I couldn't be prouder that I get to be there to honor them.
But we can all be heroes. And we must be. Though many beautiful children have found their way home through foster care adoption in the United States there are still over 100,000 more that have not and that are waiting. And there are over 400,000 that have been removed from their homes and are living in foster care. These children, America's invisible children, are counting on all of us to find a place in our hearts for them, even a seemingly small one.
There are mass media campaigns designed to recruit new foster parents. There are nationwide initiatives to encourage people to adopt. But what about the millions of people in the United States that won't, can't or don't want to do either? Do you still have something to share that will improve the life of a child waiting for a place to call home? Of course you do. And the children need all of you to find your place. Now.
In celebration of National Adoption Month One Simple Wish is kicking off #IFitIn -- a nationwide campaign to encourage every single person in the US to find, and share, how they fit into our nation's foster care system. We are asking everyone to use #IFitIn on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share how they fit in... by fostering, adopting, advocating, volunteering, donating and much more.
We believe that this campaign will shine a much brighter light on all of the heroes that are out there giving even just a seemingly small piece of their time, resources and love to one of the 400,000+ children in foster care that really need it. Some gestures may be grand and yet some may seem simple but together, they add up. Together, they create the village we all know it takes to raise a child.
So tell me...where do you fit in?