Excuse the little slight delay here, but may I welcome Chris Smith and others, and certainly Lou Sullivan, who's doing a superb job for this country as Secretary of HHS; Assistant Secretary Barnhart; and I mentioned Representative Smith; and I would consider, looking around, this crowd as all distinguished guests. And welcome, especially, to those here who truly know the meaning of the holiday we celebrate tomorrow, for those of us whose lives have been touched by adoption realize, I think, quite profoundly, what Thanksgiving is all about.
It gives me particular pleasure to proclaim this our 28th National Adoption Week. Each year more than 50,000 children join new families here in America. Each year tens of thousands of lives are enriched by this act of faith, courage, and generosity. That means not only the lives of children who have finally found the security and belonging they desire, but also the lives of their families and friends, their new families and friends.
During this week we have the chance, the privilege to recognize those who have joined in the effort to find permanent homes for waiting children: The counselors, the social workers, the physicians, the attorneys, the legislators, the volunteers, the employers, media professionals, members of the clergy, and families. During National Adoption Week, perhaps most important of all, we also have the chance to express our admiration for the women who chose life for their unborn child.
Our family knows the value of that choice. Among our 12 grandchildren, as many of you know, are two very special little ones who were adopted. Whenever I see these miracles, if you will, I thank God for the joy that each of them brings to our family every single day.
We must make adoption a higher priority in this Nation. And every level of government and every part of society must promote policies that encourage adoption and make it easier for families who want children and who will give them loving homes.
Right now, over 30,000 children are waiting. They're legally available for adoption, just waiting for homes and hearts to welcome them. Many of them have special needs, but they all have special love to receive and to give.
This week, during the holiday season, and throughout the year, let everyone in this country remember those precious youngsters who wait. Let us renew our determination to help them, to help the American family, to help the strength of this Nation.
So thank you all very much for coming here today. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. And may God bless you all. And now I'm going to sign this proclamation.