Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of National Adoption Day, a national initiative originally conceived in L.A. that has finalized more than 35,000 adoptions nationwide since 2000.
Dozens of prospective parents showed up at the Edmund D. Edelman Children's Court to sign on the dotted line of their adoption papers during a news conference Friday afternoon held by the nonprofit group Alliance for Children's Rights.
"It's been a long process," said Cherissi Boyd, there to finalize the adoption of her great-grandnephew Jamal. "Social workers, courts... But I don't mind, I can wait. This is my first adoption."
Each year, more than 350 communities in 50 states hold events to finalize the adoptions of children in foster care and honor their adoptive families. In press conferences, after-school programs or courtroom adoptions, officials use the occasion to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption.
Los Angeles County itself has approximately 20,000 children in its foster system, with the longest waiting list for placement in the country.
"One in four children lives in poverty [in Los Angeles]," said Janis Spire, CEO of the Alliance for Children's Rights. "But then, [L.A.'s] foster care system compared to others is working hard to help children reunify with their family, or find a new one."
Over 100 adoptions were finalized Friday in Los Angeles.
"These kids are not bad apples," said Willie Garson, an actor and this year's National Adoption Day spokesman. "There's not something wrong with them. It doesn't matter what kind of family you are – a family is a family."
For information on how to adopt or foster a child, call the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services at (888) 811-1121.
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated Friday was National Adoption Day. Though some celebrations were held Friday, National Adoption Day is held each 3rd Saturday of November.