PROSPER — For most people, November 18 is just a regular day. It’s another day to go to work, go to the grocery store, go to class or complete whatever needs to be done on a regular basis.
And once the day passes, its becomes just another day crossed off the calendar for the year; most people don’t think of it as a day of significance.
But for thousands of children in the United States, November 18 serves as a reminder that they were chosen to be loved, cared for and taken into a new home.
November 18 is National Adoption Day, where families across the country celebrate the additions to their family brought in through adoption.
According to a study found on PBS.org, abut 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year, and of non-stepparent adoptions, about 59% are from the foster system. In addition, 26% of the children are from other countries, and 15% are babies that were“voluntarily relinquished,” which means that they were given up by their birth mothers to places like hospitals and churches.
People choose adoption for a variety of reasons, but for one family here in Prosper, it was an opportunity to help a child in need.
Katie Schmidt is a former teacher and current IT software specialist and is married to the recently-hired head football coach at Prosper High, Brandon Schmidt. The couple had two daughters, Sophie and Sabrina, before they adopted their son Carter from foster care.
“We had talked about adoption very early in our marriage,” Katie Schmidt said. “We love kids, we were both teachers/coaches when we met, and we knew we could give a child a loving family.”
The Schmidts decided to become involved with the foster care system when Katie was pregnant with her second daughter. They were living in Austin at the time, and she says the process was difficult.
“There were so many frustrations with the process, such as paperwork ‘lost’ by the agency, so I was constantly resubmitting stuff… We eventually had our second daughter and backed off of getting licensed at the time, deciding to try a new agency later,” Katie said.
The two finally received their license when Brandon was offered the head coaching position at Prosper High School.
That’s when they were blessed with Carter.
“We actually got a call the next day for our first placement, a baby boy. We fostered him and then a sibling before we got the call for our son, Carter,” said Katie.
Carter was in the hospital and in dire need of a home, and Katie just couldn’t resist. The couple took him in as a foster child, and over the next ten months, he became an integral part of the family.
“It was a surreal thing to leave a hospital with a newborn that you did not know existed 24 hours earlier. We were welcomed home by ‘Daddy’… then our girls came running off the bus that afternoon, and it was like Christmas morning,” said Katie. “They were overjoyed and couldn’t wait to hold and love on baby boy.”
After months of paperwork, court dates and CPS visits, the family was officially able to adopt Carter. He officially become Carter Ray Schmidt on November 18, 2016 — National Adoption Day.
“He brings so much happiness to our family, and we have the biggest of hopes for his bright future,” said Katie.
The Schmidts aren’t the only family who have chosen adoption. Katie heads a Facebook page that encourages others to share their stories and experiences. She said there are many ways to become involved.
“If you are not able to foster-to-adopt, consider being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate),” she said.
For those interested in the adoption process or wanting to learn more information, Katie said she is always prepared to mentor families about her experiences.
And next year, when November 18 rolls around, take a moment and remember the children like Carter Ray Schmidt, who have been given a new life and hope for the future.
“Our son has exceeded any and all expectations and dreams we could have ever had about growing our family in this way,” said Katie. “He’s been the surprise of a lifetime.”