PLATTSBURGH — Will Wyant and his 2-year-old daughter, Samantha, celebrated National Adoption Day with families who have had similar experiences.
Wyant and his wife initially became part of the foster-care system with adoption in mind.
After caring for Samantha since she was 11 days old, they knew they wanted to make her part of their family forever, and in December 2015, they officially adopted her.
“When we got involved in foster care, we didn’t realize how much of a need there was for it and how much of an option adoption really is in this area,” Wyant said.
“It opened our eyes to a lot of issues we didn’t even know were prevalent in this area.”
The local Adoptive Families Day event, organized by Family Forever Adoptive and Kinship Families of the North Country through the Permanency Resource Center, praised the union of families through adoption or foster care.
Each child who attended the event, which was held at Plattsburgh Recreation Center on U.S. Oval, received a gift card donated by local restaurants.
There was a large turnout, from infants to preteens to parents.
The fun included a photo booth, music and entertainment such as a blow-up obstacle courses, hula hoops and small-scale bowling.
Food and drinks were spread out on long tables with red and white star-shaped balloons.
Since 2000, National Adoption Day has been celebrated on or near the Saturday before Thanksgiving because this is when courtrooms open their doors for adoptions to be finalized.
This year, more than 5,000 adoptions are scheduled to be finalized across the country, according to the Permanency Resource Center.
Local officials have reporting dramatically increased need for foster care across the North Country, some of it linked to the opioid crisis, which is increasing neglect and abandonment cases.
Caprice Johnson, program coordinator for Clinton and eastern Essex County, wanted the Adoptive Families Day event to showcase the many programs the Permanency Resource Center can provide.
For families with a newly adopted child, the center offers parent training, peer support, mentoring, counseling and other support programs.
“I think that it’s good that the community is realizing that there are children that need to be adopted and there are families in Clinton County that support that,” Johnson said.
“They are loving families that these children are going to, and I think that’s just great seeing that happening.”
Although this was the first year the event was coordinated, Johnson hopes to plan another one for next year’s National Adoption Day.