LOS ANGELES — On National Adoption Day, the spotlight seemed to shine most brightly on single parents like Nefertiti Austin.
She is a college instructor and site manager at a domestic violence center who chose to adopt a son in 2007. On Saturday, she adopted her second child — her son’s half-sister — Joy, who will soon be turning 2.
“My best friend is adopted and, partially because of that, I always wanted to adopt,” Austin said. “... I just thought this was the right thing to do.”
Austin was attending the 15th Annual National Adoption Day ceremony at Edmund D. Edelman Children's Court in Los Angeles with families, children’s advocates and politicians Saturday.
When she adopted her son, she didn’t know he had a sibling in the system.
“They're from a family of 10 kids and their mom has had issues with substance abuse,” Austin said. “Even though the kids were drug-exposed, we haven't had any issues. ”
Austin, who has published two romance novels and numerous articles, now writes about the challenges she faces as a single mother in her blog.
Judge Michael Nash, presiding judge of the Juvenile Court in Los Angeles, founded National Adoption Day 15 years ago. Nearly 50,000 children across the country have been adopted since then, according to the National Adoption Foundation. The event is now recognized in courthouses and counties around the nation.
Last weekend, Nash introduced TV and movie actor Willie Garson (“White Collar,” “Groundhog Day”) and his son Nathen, 8½, whom he adopted nearly five years ago.
“What happens today is just one day, but this is an ongoing thing and if we have the opportunity to give a kid some happiness that they deserve — be it for a few months as a foster parent or as a forever family — then it is our happy burden to carry,” Garson told the crowd. “We should always reach out and give these special precious years the joy that they deserve.”
Nathen also spoke, saying, “It was 4½ years ago when I stood in this courthouse and was finally adopted out of the foster care system where I had been since I was 3. It was something I had dreamed of for a very long time, and for me, that dream came true.”
More than 100,000 children currently in the foster care system are available for adoption, according to the foundation.