National Adoption Month

At 16 Years Old, He Never Thought He'd Be Adopted. Then He Met His Teacher.

This story gives hope to kids looking for a family.

November is National Adoption Month. In honor of the month, we will be bringing attention to the thousands of people in foster care awaiting forever homes, as well as those who provide and advocate for them. These stories emphasize the idea that families are bound together by the love they share, rather than their biological roots.  

For a long time, Anthony Berry said he didn't want to be adopted. But then he met his teacher, Bennie Berry.

At 16 years old, Anthony's chances of finding a "forever home" were declining by the day. As A Plus recently reported, the foster care system in America is in crisis — and older children, particularly children of color, are having the hardest time finding permanent homes.

But despite the odds being stacked against him, Anthony found a perfect match by chance: he met a teacher he loved. Ms. Berry wasn't even sure if Anthony was being serious when he first asked her.

"Well at first I thought he was making jokes until he actually explained the situation," she told KBMT-TV. "And then we struck a deal: finish an assignment and then you can show me the website."

On Saturday, inside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont, Texas, they made it official. During a Wizard of Oz-themed ceremony, Anthony and 17 other children followed the "Yellow Brick Road" to District Court Judge Larry Thorne's courtroom before putting a legal stamp on their dreams of being adopted. Anthony was the oldest of all the children to find a permanent home that day.

"If you have ever thought about adoption or didn't want to be adopted, actually try it cause you never know," he said during a press conference. "Take into consideration that someone that doesn't love you, there is always someone that will love you."

In the United States, there are about 100,000 kids available for adoption in foster care right now. Anthony, who is African American, represents two important issues for the foster care system: children of color looking for homes and older kids in the who are nearing the age where they are often no longer be adopted. During an interview with A Plus, April Dinwoodie, chief executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, said children of color are overrepresented in the system, which creates increasing number of transracial adoptions. That, in turn, has created issues for parents who aren't prepared for the nuances of raising a child that is of a different race.

"Part of the problem of the kids coming into the system also has to do with systemic institutional racism about why they pull kids from their homes in the first place," Michelle Hughes, an adoption attorney in Illinois, said. "The system is not set up for people of color, and the nuances that come with that and the cultural differences are not being recognized."

5,395 children have been adopted from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in 2017, but as of September, there were still another 6,685 children waiting for a permanent home. For now, the 18 kids adopted over the weekend — and Anthony in particular — can give hope to the rest of the children still looking for a forever home.

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