Philly child welfare officials highlight the power of family, love on National Adoption Day

Pat Loeb
November 15, 2019 - 4:49 pm
Lilliana Toman and her grandmother, now mom, Eileen, pose for photos on National Adoption Day.

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials celebrated National Adoption Day with a party for 10 families that officially added a new member Friday.

"When you open up your heart and your home to a child, you receive all the love and affection they are longing to share with you," said Mayor Jim Kenney, who was less than a minute into his speech at the Academy of Fine Arts, when he choked up and had to take a moment.

"I don't know why it just hit me, what you're doing. I want to thank each of you. I'm sorry," he said. 

None of the parents in the room had to wonder why. They, too, were overcome when they talked about the magnitude of the journey to adoption.

"She was in foster care, excuse me, for about five months," said Eileen Toman, who had just adopted her son's 11-year-old daughter, Lilliana, because even being a grandparent is not the same guarantee of a forever family.

"I said we're going to make it so no one can ever take you again," Toman said. 

"Even though I give you a pain in the butt," Lilliana joked.

"I'm sure I give you a pain in the butt too but it doesn't matter because now we're all family," Toman responded. 

The guests had walked the half a block straight from Family Court, where their adoptions had been finalized.

"Very emotional, to be able to finally have closure is a beautiful thing for us," said Kiya Jones, who was celebrating with her now-legal daughter, 11-year-old Heaven.

"When we weren't on paper officially, we were still in our heart officially together," Heaven said.

Heaven has been living with the Jones family for six years since her birth mother — Jones' friend — became unable to care for her. 

Kiya looked pained to talk about the tragic roots of this moment, but Heaven's radiant smile shows it's been redeemed by love. 

"If you adopt a child, you will be very, very and, well, follow your dream and your heart," Heaven said.

Last year, 313 children aged out of foster care without a permanent family, so officials are stressing older adoptions.But, in all, there are a thousand children on the waiting list, hoping for a home.