November is Adoption Awareness month nationwide

Brother and sister Emma and

Luke Cazentre were adopted as infants.

By Christine Bordelon

Clarion Herald

“Adoption is life-changing for a child, providing not only a family but a sense of belonging that can buoy a child’s spirit and serve as the foundation they need to reach their fullest potential,” said Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards at the state’s 20th annual Adoption Celebration held in November in Baton Rouge. November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

  According to the state Department of Children and Family Services, Louisiana had a record year of adoptions of foster children. Between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, 912 children found permanent homes with 631 families, an 18-percent increase over the previous year. 

Adoption changes both a child’s and the adoptive parents’ lives. Take adoptive parents Vicky and Stephen Cazentre, for example, who are active parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan. 

They adopted two newborns, now ages 11 and 9, and couldn’t imagine life any other way. 

“It’s just as natural as having your own children,” Vicky Cazentre, a former CCD teacher, said. “It’s no different. All families are put together by God. When you are dealing with adoption, you know God’s hand is all in it. He puts the right families together.”

Married in 1993, the Cazentres tried, unsuccessfully, for 11 years to have children of their own. Once they received a medical diagnosis indicating they couldn’t conceive, they knew God had another plan for them. In 2004, they applied to Volunteers of America. Eighteen months later, in 2006, their daughter Emma was born.

“A few years later, we decided we wanted to adopt a second child,” Stephen Cazentre said. In January 2009, their son Luke was born. The Cazentres recommend adoption to others. 

“It was hard waiting, but we knew the right child was out there for us,” Vicky Cazentre said. “We just had to be patient and wait our time, but it was a very rewarding program. Through prayer and faith we knew we were destined to have a family, and it would grow.”

Their children, Emma and Luke, attend Catholic religious education at St. Charles Borromeo and regularly attend Mass with their parents. They also accompany Vicky as she decorates the church for the holidays each year. 

Being raised in strong Catholic families, both Vicky and Stephen said their faith was unwavering while trying to conceive. 

“Faith was the main thing that got us through,” Vicky Cazentre said. 

“We didn’t see the plan clearly as we were going through the process of having kids naturally,” Stephen Cazentre said. “The adoption process was a natural process for us. There was no second guessing. Once we got in the program, there was something else guiding us through it. There were no hiccups. We knew it was God.”

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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By Danna Cousins

Guest columnist

During the month of November with family and friends gathered for Thanksgiving, we will give thanks for many blessings. As adoption professionals at Catholic Charities Adoption Services, we invite others to join us as we also celebrate Adoption Awareness Month during the month of November. 

Adoption Awareness Month is about encouraging others to learn about adoption and to acknowledge those whose lives have been impacted by adoption. The mission of Adoption Awareness Month is to celebrate the families who have grown through adoption and to recognize the many children who are still awaiting their forever homes. 

There are many paths in life and, for some individuals, adoption is a journey of decision-making to become

parents through adoption or to place a child for adoption. 

Adoptive parents hope to bring a child into their existing family for many reasons. Some hope to provide a home for a child in need; some hope to become parents for the first time; and some hope to expand their existing family. 

For all, their decision is rooted in love and a celebration of family. Birth parents have shared with us that the true gift in adoption is choosing adoptive parents so their child may have a future filled with guidance, love and encouragement. 

Having the opportunity to work with families whose lives are touched by adoption is an amazing experience. 

We witness feelings of fear, sadness, joy and comfort. As opposite as each of these emotions can be, they all have one aspect in common – love. The birthparents’ love for their child as they consider adoption; the adoptive parents’ love when they provide a nurturing home; and the adoptee’s love for his or her birth parents, who made a selfless decision, as well as his or her adoptive parents, who provided them with a home.  

During November, it is a pleasure to welcome visits from the children who are adopted through Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. Along with their adoptive families, they come to the Adoption Services office to visit with staff, looking for their picture that adorns the office wall from their placement day and sharing stories as they have grown over the years. 

The children often have questions about adoption and their birth family, especially if they do not have contact with their biological family at the time. 

As a staff we become part of the child’s extended family. It is a role that we proudly assume, especially when it entails receiving announcements of a child’s recent accomplishments. 

The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans continues in its tradition of providing maternity and adoption services that include counseling, case management, adoption education, search/reunion, domestic/international home studies, and post-placement supervision.

All services are available to those served through the program for as long as needed. When someone chooses to work with Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, we see this as the beginning of a relationship with families that can extend through multiple generations. 

If you or someone you know placed a child for adoption or is adopted through Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (also referred to as St. Vincent’s Maternity Home) and would like to request the available non-identifying background information or counseling services, call Danna P. Cousins, MSW, LCSW, Adoption Services program director, dcousins@ccano.org or 885-1141. All contact is strictly confidential. 

Those interested in domestic adoption must meet basic criteria to request an information packet/adoption questionnaire. The criteria include being between the ages of 27-45; if married, married a minimum of three years; and being a resident of the Archdiocese of New Orleans or the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

For further information or to make a donation to the program, contact dcousins@ccano.org or 885-1141.

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