During the holiday season, amidst all the fun and frenzy of shopping lists and sales, we always come back to thinking about one thing more than anything else -- the meaning of family. The holidays teach us that families are much more than people who share a genetic connection. They are people who are held together by bonds of unconditional love -- people who support one another, care for one another, make sacrifices for one another, and depend on one another in times of need.
Being a parent to a child does not simply mean giving birth to that child. Truly raising a son or a daughter takes thought, planning, and no shortage of energy. It is really a labor of love.
Under Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) understands the importance of nurturing children removed from homes defined by abuse, neglect, and drug abuse, rather than love and stability. Through the foster care system, ACS already serves as the family for many of these children.
But ACS knows that the best thing we can do for these children is to find them permanent and caring adoptive homes. That is why, over the past few years, the Administration for Children's Services has begun a major drive to increase the number of adoptions in the city. As a result, in fiscal year 1997, ACS finalized a record 4,009 adoptions +- far more than any other jurisdiction in the country, and a 73 percent increase over New York City's total in fiscal year 1994. In fact, last year New York City had twice the number of adoptions as the entire state of California.
The success of the program is a tribute to the leadership of Commissioner Scopetta and the cooperation of so many others both inside and outside City government, from family court officials and social workers to adoption attorneys and foster care agencies. And in the most basic way, it is a tribute to the spirit of New York City. It makes sense that New York City is leading the nation in placing these children into permanent homes because, as the most diverse and the most successful city in the world, we have always understood the importance of uniting across lines of race, background, religion, age, and gender to build a better future for everyone.
But there are more children in need of permanent homes. That is why, on December 4, Commissioner Scopetta and I announced the start of "Should I Adopt?," a new campaign designed to bring more families together through adoption. With the help of interested prospective parents, our new adoption campaign hopes to give thousands of these children the joy and stability of permanent families. That will make New York City a better place today, and well into the next century.
If you have questions about adopting a child, please call the "Should I Adopt?" hotline at (212) 676-WISH.