• Martin Peters, Esq.

National Adoption Month | What is your why?

November is National Adoption month, a month set aside to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. The month holds special meaning for me because it reminds me of my son, Joseph, my "why."

I had worked in human services for nearly a decade, and while I am not a social worker, you can't help but feel the pain and suffering of the children, young adults and families that you serve. In 2017 my wife and I decided to become foster parents. We fostered two children before Joseph came to live with us. Born to unemployed, incarcerated parents, he had been in foster care for 16 months, his entire life, and we were his fourth placement. I'll never forget the first time I met him. It was after 9PM. He was in need of a bath, had lice, and was wheezing so heavily we decided to take him to the emergency room.

Today, Joseph is a "Peters" who is a smart and loving four-year-old boy who eats like a teenager.

According to the Center for Disease Control, "research shows parents facing financial hardship have fewer resources to invest in their children and face difficult choices when trying to balance work and family responsibilities. Strong evidence consistently links low income to Adverse Childhood Experiences ("ACEs") exposures and children’s long-term health, educational, and social outcomes. Addressing the social and economic underpinnings of ACEs is critical to achieving lasting and sustainable effects. Policies that strengthen household financial security can prevent ACEs by increasing economic stability and family income. Strengthening economic supports for families is a multi-generation strategy that addresses the needs of parents and children so that both can succeed and achieve lifelong health and well-being."

As noble and rewarding as it is to be Joseph's father, I wish he never had to endure the abuse, neglect and abandonment that brought him to me. I'm convinced that had his birth parents had the economic resources to care for their family, Joseph would not have had to spend the first two years of his life in foster care. Each day I come to work at Eckerd Connects and see the face of Joseph in the over 34,000 clients that Eckerd Connects impacts each year. He inspires me to do my best daily in providing workforce development, child welfare and juvenile justice services so that every child, young adult and family that I serve has the opportunity to succeed.

What is your why? How is the work that you do today going to impact your community for generations to come?

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