ANKENY, Iowa -- The bitter October cold gave way to warm hearts. "Very heartwarming and overwhelming when you think about it," said Iowans for Adoption founder Diana Lang.
People touched by adoption joined Iowans for Adoption's annual Gingerbread Walk and Run welcoming families of all walks of life. Lang said, "There are so many kids. It’s so fun to see kids I know that have been adopted who are out running and realizing what their lives possibly could have been had they not been adopted."
Lang remembers how powerful it was when she was adopted. She’s now on the other end of that love as an adoptive parent. She said, "I always knew I was adopted, but I didn’t know other people that were. So that’s what’s so wonderful about being out here is that we are all supporting adoption."
Board member Rusty Johnson is living proof it’s never too late. He was adopted at the age of 37. "It was extremely powerful. Adoption, especially for a foster kid and I was a former foster kid, it’s one of the most powerful connections that you can make."
Stigma and misconceptions can often prevent that connection and it is adding to the reasons Iowa has 900 kids legally waiting to be adopted through foster care. Johnson said, "Yes, it can be expensive if you do private adoptions or overseas adoptions, but when we are talking adopting through foster care, the fee can be next to nothing."
Iowans for Adoption says research shows millions of Americans hope to adopt an infant, but less than 12,000 infants are available each year in the U.S. The event and organization spread awareness of the need right here in Iowa. Lang said, "That it’s OK to place a baby up for adoption because there are literally millions of people waiting and people don’t realize that."
The organization says it takes more than a village to create these joyful families. It takes a state like Iowa. "Being able to see so many people that have succeeded because others have helped build these Iowa families; that’s the most encouraging thing I can possibly think of," Johnson said.
To learn more about Iowans for Adoption or to become a volunteer, visit www.iowansforadoption.org