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Adopting Reform 

Editor:

In reading the Feb. 19  letter to the editor titled "Not a Pretty Picture," I was saddened to hear that Ms. Rigge has experienced so many difficulties in her journey as an adopted adult. While adoption in this country has seen countless forms and is still, in many ways, evolving as an issue that society is grappling to better understand, I commend the individuals like Ms. Rigge who are brave enough to come forward and speak about the issues that are directly affecting adoptees in this country. If it were not for these individuals standing up and openly discussing the complexities of adoption (such as the balance between protecting the rights to confidentiality that have long been lobbied for by birth parents, and respecting the adoptees' desire to "know" about their pasts), adoptions in this country would still be a closed issue.

Adoptions today are significantly different than they were even 10-20 years ago. There has been a huge paradigm shift, moving away from the days of closed and secretive adoptions, to a time when children are given the opportunity to know of all the parents in their lives. It is the outspoken individuals such as Ms. Rigge who have brought the importance of this issue to the forefront and allowed for today's adopted children to experience a much more open experience with adoption. In Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties alone there are over 80 children a year who are benefiting from the gifts of adoption. These children, many of whom have experienced a period of time in the care of birth parents who are unable to meet their needs, have found dedicated, loving and generous families prepared to commit a lifetime of love and support to them.

However, there are still many more children right here in our very communities that are desperate to have a place to call home. It is because of these children speaking out about their strong desire to find permanence and their wish to play an active role in determining their own futures that the California Department of Social Services has joined with a number of youth throughout the state in forming the Heart Gallery. This traveling photo display of some of California's waiting children was created in collaboration with the children themselves. Although such a display was initially met with concern from some parts of the community, it has also proven to be a successful tool for recruiting adoptive homes for these and many more children.

While I do realize that there are many unique challenges that continue to face adoptees, I would hate for these issues to stand in the way of children finding homes. For that reason, I strongly encourage anyone who has ever thought about adoption to contact the State Adoptions Office (826-9180) to learn more about how to help the children in our communities. Also, for those of you who have been adopted and are seeking help to particular issues or road blocks, you might consider reaching out to our local Post Adoption Services Project (476-9210) for assistance.

— Carolyn Coke, Adoptions Supervisor,
*California Department of Social Services, Arcata Office *

Sweet Spot: Carolyn Coke wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.

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