"The Gift of Adoption" by Courtney Vallejo (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2016 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

As you're reading this, National Adoption Awareness Month is coming to an end. As an adoptive mom, I couldn't let the month pass without taking a moment to reflect and celebrate adoption.

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The gift of adoption has made me a mother. Originally in 2011 and again this year, my husband and I have ventured into the world of fost-adopt and have found our children. "Foster to adopt" is one path of adoption where we become foster parents with the goal of becoming adoptive parents. We found a local foster care agency in our county and worked through them to be placed with children. The children are in the foster care system and come from across the state of California.

This year we celebrated having our first set of children being home with us now for 5 years and we are hoping to finalize our next adoption on the same day as our older kid's finalization, just 4 years later!

Many people stop to thank us for "taking these kids in and giving them a home." I have to admit, that I didn't go into adoption thinking about changing these kids' lives, but rather, becoming a mom. Sure, there are moments when we're on an amazing journey as a family and I stop to think that they could be living a very different life if they had remained with their birth family, but we could all have different lives if we'd had different parents. For now, we're just trying the best we can to parent the children God has placed with us, who we know He made especially for us, for each other and for our family. My three have only been siblings for a little over 5 months, but watching them, you'd never guess they hadn't spent their whole lives together.

Not everyone is called to adoption but we have many people in our lives who desire to help these children and have been more than generous with us, as their way of helping. For those of you who are not in a place to adopt but are yearning to help children in foster care, please consider getting in touch with an organization called Together We Rise. When children pass through the foster care system, often times their stuff (if they have any) is transported in black trash bags. I cringe at the lasting impact of seeing your stuff as trash and thus an extension of yourself as trash. We have seen firsthand when kids travel with trash bags. Together We Rise does fundraisers to provide duffel bags filled with goodies for the children as they enter the foster care system.

For more information and to contact Together We Rise, please visit their website.

Another way to help is to consider getting involved with your local county foster agency. Many agencies put on Christmas parties for foster children and events throughout the year that they need help fundraising for and are in need of donations.

I am a believer that it takes a village to raise a child, and that together as a village we can raise all God's children, no matter where they come from.

Copyright 2016 Courtney Vallejo