ABERDEEN, SD (Dakota News Now) – Emily and Dan Richardt have been fostering children for five years. Recently, they traveled to Washington, DC to be honored by the US Congress as Angels-in-Adoption.
Each year, the Congressional Adoption Coalition Institute recognizes families in every state who advocate for children in foster care as Adoption Angels.
The Richards were one of three families of South Dakota to be honored in 2022. They were nominated by the office of Senator John Thune.
When they found out they would be honored, the Richardts were shocked.
“Our reactions were basically, ‘Well, there are a lot more deserving people than us.’ But at the same time, we wanted to make sure we took the opportunity to advocate for foster care,” said Emily Richardt.
While in DC, the Richardts spoke to delegates about the Indian Child Welfare Actwhich prioritizes the placement of Native American adoptive children with other Native American families, even if it means transferring those children to another state.
“While Emily and I agree that the premise of the law is good and it’s a good law, we just don’t think Native American children in South Dakota should be shipped off, potentially , to a tribe in Washington or the East Coast that may not even have the same cultural belief as the South Dakotans,” Dan Richardt said.
The Richardts say that under the Indian Child Welfare Act, the adoptive parents caring for the child are not on the top of the list to be considered for adoption of the child if they are not Native Americans themselves.
The Richardts took in Native American children, but luckily they were all reunited with family members.
“But if they hadn’t, it would have been released nationally first before we were even considered for adoption. It’s especially difficult when you have a child who’s been traumatized before and then taken out again. It’s a tough thing for a kid to go through,” Emily said.
The choice, according to Emily, should be up to the child.
“We would like foster families to have the opportunity to adopt these children. We believe this is in the best interest of the child. So we would like some preferences to be on the kids and what benefits them, rather than sending them somewhere else in the United States,” Emily said.
The Richardts have a biological son, Brady. Dan and Emily say Brady considers the children his family adopts as his own siblings.
“I treat him a bit like another sibling. I mean, it’s not like, ‘Oh, he’s an adopted child. They are not my brother or my sister. They are not good enough. You have to treat them all equally,” Brady said.
Emily says there are challenges fostering children, but she would encourage any family who can provide a loving home.
“I think the biggest thing we hear from people is, ‘I always considered fostering, but I would be too attached.’ As foster parents it’s a bit insulting to be honest because you want to get too attached. For them to imply that we don’t, I mean we definitely do. We would give back a disservice to these kids if we don’t bond,” Emily said.
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