EDWARDSVILLE — A little girl’s Christmas wish prompted a Madison County judge to help organize Madison County’s judge’s participation on National Adoption Day on Nov. 18.
“All I want for Christmas is to be adopted,” the little girl told Associate Judge Sarah Smith during a court hearing in Family Court. The emotional impact of adoption cases is what prompted Smith to volunteer to chair this year’s event.
The courthouse will be open 9:30 a.m. until noon for 43 children to be adopted into 31 families. The normally staid courthouse will feature feature child-oriented activities, such as face painting, a magic show and balloon sculpting. Businesses have volunteered to supply goods and services for the event.
Smith said one of her favorite duties as a judge is to preside over adoptions. “I’ve worked in both civil and criminal divisions, but one of the best things about working in family court is adoptions,” Smith said.
She said Third Judicial Court’s involvement in National Adoption Day was initiated by Collinsville attorney Deborah Cobb, whose practice consists primarily of adoption cases. She said she tried for years to initiate National Adoption Day in the Madison County Courthouse, but Chief Judge Dave Hylla agreed last year to help make it happen.
Cobb said that, last year, her office was primarily behind the effort, but this year, the courts are offering more support, and the effort has expanded. She and her family have been involved in the adoption field since she was a child, and her mother became a director of an adoption agency. At times, her mother would take children into their home, so she has been involved in the field all her life.
Smith said people working in the field try hard to get children from foster care into what they call “forever families.”
“There are many children in foster care who wait three or more years before being adopted. Three years is a very long time in a child’s life,” Smith said.
Sadly, some people become too old to adopt and “age out” of the process at 18. The thought of a child waiting to be adopted is “kind of depressing, but National Adoption Day will be a celebration.”
“Uniting a child with a family who loves them is one of the best opportunities I have as a judge to help our community,” Smith said.
“National Adoption Day is a day to celebrate with the children who have found their forever home and to raise awareness for children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families. This is our second year celebrating this special occasion, and we are excited to see that our event has grown even bigger this year,” Smith said.
Reach reporter Sanford Schmidt at 618-208-6449.