By Tami S. Zimmerman and Sarah Hall
Outside, snowflakes danced to the windy tune of wintry weather in Syracuse. But warm hearts and compassionate smiles shed any signs of cold as families entered the Onondaga County Courthouse Nov. 16 to celebrate National Adoption Day.
The private ceremony, held each year the Friday before Thanksgiving, provides judges, lawyers and social workers the opportunity to raise public awareness on behalf of thousands of children in foster care nationwide, "waiting to find permanent and loving homes," said Hon. Bryan Hedges, senior family court judge. It's also held to honor and celebrate all families who adopt, he said of the special occasion.
While National Adoption Day is actually the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the ceremony at the courthouse to finalize adoptions is always held on Friday. The day is part of National Adoption Awareness Month. The Alliance for Children's Rights created the first National Adoption Day in November 2000 to call attention to the number of children in the foster care system who are eligible for adoption because of the termination of parental rights. The first local Adoption Day in 2001 was organized by Onondaga County Family Court Judge Martha Walsh Hood, who has been the driving force behind each year's ceremony.
For single parent Dr. Bonnie Marr, the event marked a fourth addition to her family. Her first three children were adopted as infants while her oldest son, whose adoption was finalized on Friday, is 13 years old.
When asked what inspired her to adopt, she said she wanted to have a family and provide for people who didn't have that opportunity. Her children are originally from India, China, Guatemala and Ethiopia.
"I'm fortunate to have a reasonable income," she said. Marr is a neonatologist with Neonatal Associates of Central New York.
Michele and Jeff Henry, of Manlius, sat just a row up from the Marr's, with their 16-month-old daughter Malea. After a seven-month process, the eager parents-to-be made a four-day trip to Guatemala to pick up their daughter.