EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Chief Justice David A. Hylla worked with other judges in the county to promote adoption awareness by holding a special event at the courthouse for National Adoption Day.
National Adoption Day, held on Nov. 19, is heavily promoted by organizations such as the Dave Thomas foundation. Several thousand children per year wait to be adopted in the Unites States, including those whose natural parents lost parental rights.
Hylla said he attended an event that provided information about these children and he felt it was important to get his colleagues in Madison County involved.
"The big push for Adoption Day is trying to promote awareness," Hylla told the Record. "About 50,000 children are adopted from foster care every year, yet still more than 20,000 age out without ever being adopted. There are lots of kids that never become adopted. There are kids out there that are available and hoping to be adopted by the right families."
Special invitations were sent to post adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents and caseworkers or supervisors. Judges Janet Heflin, Sarah Smith, and Maureen Schuette presided over several adoptions that day.
Why the long waiting period for these children?
"I couldn't answer that," Hylla said. "I set up the program because one of our chief judge statewide meetings took place some time ago, and they talked about National Adoption Day and I never heard of it before. It started in 2000. A good friend of mine, a judge in Rockford, was promoting it."
Hylla mobilized his judicial colleagues back home.
"I asked some judges here in Madison County if they'd be willing to get involved," Hylla said. "We did about 15 adoptions that morning."
Hylla detailed the difficult position children are put in from his own perspective in the legal profession.
"I used to work as a public defender," Hylla said. "We were charged with dealing with parental rights matters. I know there are situations where natural parental rights are terminated and that takes time. Those situations could create some delays, unless parents were fully willing to give up those rights."
Tom Cinque, from Madison County Department of Children and Families, performed a magic show for the children.
"We had a good turnout," Hylla said. "Next year, hopefully we will get some live coverage. I bet we had 120 people. Lots of families and little kids, lots of things that we don't see often in the courthouse. We had some entertainment. It was one of the happiest experiences I have seen at the courthouse."
This event was the first of its kind at the Madison County Courthouse and the judges plan to make it an annual program in the community.