November is Adoption Awareness Month. Since 2015, Connecting Hearts at JFS has celebrated with the “A Hand to Hold” campaign in partnership with WTVR CBS 6. Every day in November, CBS 6 features a child or sibling group in foster care awaiting adoption in central Virginia on Virginia This Morning, the evening news and their website and social media outlets.
The awareness campaign’s reach has grown every year. As the fifth year of “A Hand to Hold” drew to a close, Connecting Hearts Program Director Will Pitzer was still catching up on the flood of emails and calls from families, some about specific children and others about foster care and adoption in general. “CBS 6 featured 31 children, and 153 families reached out to Connecting Hearts,” Pitzer shared.
Social media is another major component of “A Hand to Hold.” CBS 6 also shares children’s stories on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. This year, the posts garnered more than 13,000 likes, 15,000 shares and 23,000 video views in Richmond and beyond.
There are more than 5,500 youth in Virginia’s foster care system and roughly 1,100 of them are waiting to be adopted. If these children “age out” of the foster care system without being adopted, their futures can be bleak. Connecting Hearts at JFS’ mission is to connect children in Virginia’s foster care system with permanent, loving homes through adoption.
“The goal of the campaign is both to find these 30 kids or siblings forever homes, but also to raise awareness about the other 1,100 children in need of permanent, loving homes who aren’t featured,” said Pitzer.
The children featured in “A Hand to Hold” are of all races and ages, with diverse interests and personalities, and were put in foster care through no fault of their own. Connecting Hearts arranges professional portraits for all of them so their smiles and stories can touch the hearts of potential adoptive parents.
For each child or sibling group highlighted, CBS 6 shares both their portrait and a snapshot of their personality. Traverious was one of the children featured this November, and his spotlight included a little bit about him: “Traverious is an active nine-year-old boy who loves hands-on activities, building with toys and understanding how things work. He is curious, innovative, observant and resourceful. Traverious is respectful, enjoys playing with peers his age, has a great sense of humor and he loves playing outside.”
“The foster care system is not well understood,” Pitzer said, “Campaigns like ‘A Hand to Hold’ are essential to spread the word, recruit foster parents and find permanent, loving homes for every child in central Virginia. We are profoundly grateful for our partnership with CBS 6!”
To learn more about Connecting Hearts at JFS or how to become a foster or adoptive parent, call 804-308-5946 or email [email protected]. If you’d like to see more of the features, visit Connecting Hearts’ Facebook page at facebook.com/connectingheartsva.