Those who know me know how important the blessing of adoption is to me. During National Adoption Month, I’d like to take the time to acknowledge some of the wonderful families involved in adoption with whom I have crossed paths over the years. Each year, members of Congress can nominate a deserving individual or family from their state to receive an Angels in Adoption ® award. You can learn more about the program here.
I had the privilege of welcoming Heather and Johnny Gibson of Guthrie, Okla., to Washington D.C. in 2016. Over the course of four years, the Gibsons adopted eight children from foster care. Their story exemplifies family values as they willingly took in sibling units and sought to keep them together through the adoption process. In one instance, they adopted the youngest from a sibling group of three that they were fostering, while the older two were reunited with their biological father. The Gibsons have fulfilled their promise to keep the siblings in contact with one another and involved in each other’s lives, always putting family first. Oklahoma is blessed to have people like the Gibsons who offer unconditional love and support to children in need of a permanent home and forever family.
In 2017, I welcomed Poteau Police Officer Jody Thompson and his family to Washington. Their story shows that anyone can experience the blessings and joy of being a foster parent or adoptive parent. The Thompson’s compassion, along with their son John’s resilience and courage, is truly amazing and inspiring. I want to once again say thank you to Officer Thompson for his service and for going above and beyond the call of duty. While we continue to honor the Thompson family, I am also grateful to the thousands of other families in Oklahoma who have grown their family through adoption.
In 2018, I was proud to welcome McAlester residents Lloyd and Kelli Belt and their family to Washington with the Angels in Adoption ® Award. The Belts adopted Addi May from Ethiopia—a place close to my heart, as I have a beautiful granddaughter adopted from Ethiopia. Their journey was full of hurdles and challenges, but they persevered. I am grateful to have helped the Belts complete Addi May’s adoption after Ethiopia closed international adoptions in 2017. The Belts are an example of the courage and love of all Oklahomans who pursue foster and adoptive parenting, and to the wonderful blessing these children are to the world and our lives. As Kelli described, “It’s 100 percent worth every sacrifice, every lost night’s sleep in those two years of waiting, every penny — it’s worth it to see the fruit of those actions.”
Just last year, it was a privilege to welcome Rocky and Samantha Ausbrooks, formerly residents of Beggs but now located in Glenpool, to Washington as we celebrated their being recognized as Angels in Adoption ® Honorees. The Ausbrooks have three children, two of whom are adopted from Ethiopia. Similar to the Belt’s story, Tesfaye’s pending adoption was put in jeopardy after Ethiopia closed international adoptions in 2017, but I was proud to work with them to help successfully complete Tesfaye’s adoption. The Ausbrooks exemplify the incredible impact adoption can have—both on the adopted children and the parents. Their story is a shining example of all the good in the world we often forget to acknowledge and I am proud to have played a small part in it.
This year was different than in years past for many reasons, but thankfully, I was able to virtually congratulate the Bay family from Woodward, Okla., on being selected as a 2020 Angels in Adoption® Honoree. During these trying times when all you seem to hear is negativity in the news, the Bay family was a source of positivity, joy and hope. When Brady and Angela adopted little Sawyer from Ethiopia, they made a decision that would grow their family and their hearts forever. The Bays were also affected by Ethiopia’s halting of international adoptions in 2017, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to help them complete Sawyer’s adoption. It was a joy to talk and pray together and to be reminded of why I continue to fight in Congress to advance policy to help all children find a home with a loving family.
Adoption is a wonderful blessing to children, families and their surrounding communities. It has been an issue close to my heart for many years now and I am glad to bring attention to such a worthy cause during National Adoption Month. Thank you for taking the time to read the stories of these inspiring families and thank you to every family who has chosen to bring a child into their home through adoption.
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption® Program honors a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations making extraordinary contributions in adoption, permanency and child welfare. Each year, the Angels in Adoption® awardees travel to Washington, D.C., to both celebrate their hard work and dedication to the issues and participate in special events designed to engage them in using their personal experience to effect change on behalf of children in need of families. This year, the Angels in Adoption® Program was virtual.