As any parent will tell you, raising a child is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. But it's also the most rewarding. Seeing your child develop into a responsible and caring person is personally satisfying and life-affirming.
To adopt a child is to do something more. It is to take a human being out of an environment of instability and loneliness - and in many cases outright abuse and neglect - and introduce him or her to a world of love, support, hope and possibility.
The City of New York's Administration for Children's Services currently serves as family to over 41,000 children through the foster care system. Of these children, approximately 6,000 will not be returning to their birth families and have been freed for adoption. Fortunately, most of them are now in pre-adoptive homes with their foster parents. Yet there are still nearly 700 children in search of a permanent home.
That's why today the City is holding its 21st annual adoption fair in City Hall Park. If you or someone you know has considered adopting a child, then today between noon and 4 p.m. is the perfect opportunity to learn about the process of adoption. At the Adoption Fair, adoptive parents and professionals will answer questions and lead adoption orientation sessions. You might be surprised by some of the answers you hear. For example, adoptive parents do not have to be married, earn a certain income, or be of a particular age or race. And the process is easy for prospective parents to enter: along every step, support and financial resources are provided.
In the spirit of the day, we will have a very special guest joining us, Mariah Carey, who has generously donated her time to reach out and help bring attention to the thousands of children looking for permanent homes. And there will also be clowns, a petting zoo, music, and fun for everyone.
Under Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta's leadership, ACS completed a record-breaking 3,848 in fiscal year 1998 - that's more than three times the number of adoptions completed in Los Angeles County. We're proud of this accomplishment, but this year we want to find even more children the supportive homes and families they need. We've launched a new campaign called "Should I Adopt?" to bring more families together through adoption, and made available a free adoption-information hotline at (212) 676-WISH.
But if you're thinking about taking this very important step that will transform your life and the life of a child, the best thing for you to do is come down to the adoption fair. I'll be there - so I look forward to seeing you at City Hall Park today between noon and 4 p.m. From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.