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Answer the call: Be an angel in adoption

By TIM and ANGELA HUELSKAMP

In many columns I (Tim), discuss how today's decisions impact the next generation. But, the decisions that are made in the voting booth or in the halls of Congress pale in comparison to the decision of a family to adopt a child. The willingness of men and women to use the blessing of their family to become dads and moms for children in need is an amazing sacrifice -- as well as a sign of commitment to the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the next generation.

Although there are so many threats to the family as the foundation of society, the family still remains the most influential force in a child's life. Children in homes with actively involved parents are less likely to engage in risky behavior, are more likely to do well in school (and ultimately professionally), and are socially well-adjusted. These factors all have major implications for public policy. It is an investment in society to ensure that all children have loving, caring, and engaged moms and dads.

November is National Adoption Month, and we encourage all Kansans who have felt called to adoption to act. The number of finalized adoptions in Kansas has grown in the past two years: from 721 in fiscal year 2010 to 761 in 2011 and 777 in 2012. While the State of Kansas provides assistance for families to bring children into their homes, hundreds of children remain in the Kansas foster care system without "forever families." And, many lack a relative able to adopt them.

We have been blessed with the opportunity to adopt four children, two from America and two from Haiti. We are a testament to the fact that you do not have to be wealthy or have a special education or background to provide a child a home. All you need is the willingness to answer the call, and a desire and commitment to provide a loving and nurturing environment for a child in need.

We have also been blessed with the opportunity to meet other families who have opened their homes to adoption. In September, we awarded the Meyer family of Salina with the Congressional "Angels in Adoption" award. Twenty-five years ago they never could have imagined having more than two children. But, they followed their hearts and have adopted eight children, several of which have special needs. They have served as foster parents to many other children. In their humility, the Meyers will admit they are not perfect; but, to their credit, they are in the eyes of their children.

Oftentimes, a child enters the foster care system when a judge decides that his or her parents are unfit to care for that child. But, there are many birthparents out there who decide -- often before a child is even born -- to put their child up for adoption. What a tremendous and beautiful sacrifice it is to put your child with a "forever family." There are many paths by which a child can join an adoptive parents' home, and we encourage Kansans to explore these options.

We know not every family can or is called to serve as an adoptive family, but there are things all can do to provide community for those families that do. There are nearly four dozen instances in the Bible of God calling on us to take care of widows and children. This is not a call to cede that responsibility to the government; no, this is a call for us to act personally for and with our neighbors.

For more information about how your family can help a child in need, please visit http://adoptkskids.org.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler and Hutchinson, represents the First District of Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.