As D.C. celebrates its 35th annual National Adoption Day, one couple is sharing their story of challenge and love in adopting their daughter this year.
“Both of our kids are very talkative,” said Patrice Dubos of Jamal, 7, and Athena, 4, whose adoption became official this year. They’ve cared for her since she was 10 months old.
Lisa Gordon started down the path of fostering through D.C.’s family court system before she met her wife, but Patrice later decided she wanted to be certified, as well, to care for Jamal.
Both were surprised by the number of challenges that arose from the process and within themselves.
“You don’t just adopt a child and create this new life for them. And that sounds so scary and so hard, but that’s the best part,” Gordon said.
The moms said the fostering and adoption process expanded their worlds more than they could have imagined. They stay in close contact with their kids’ biological mothers and siblings.
“There are all of these people, now we’re all a family, and the common ground is that we all love these kids,” she said of the children’s biological families.
This year, 186 kids were adopted through D.C. Courts, and of them, 118 were in foster care, according to D.C. Superior Court. While that is a five-year high number of placements, Judge Tara Fentress said it also means that the circumstances of many families changed this year.
“That means that fewer biological families were able do whatever it is that they need to do for reunification,” Fentress said.
She doesn’t know why 2021 saw 34 more children adopted than the year before, but she said in most cases, the court tries to place families with their relatives or close connections so they maintain a relationship with their parents, if it’s possible.
“That way the child is able to remain within the same family completely and we see that a lot,” Fentress said.
Anyone interested in fostering the 37 children who are still seeking adoptive parents can call 202-671-LOVE.