November is National Adoption Awareness Month. I’m a product of family adoption. My grandparents added me into their fold when I was close to 4 years old. My mother, who was a single mother, intended to enlist in the military and thus gave custody of me to my grandparents. When she changed her mind and didn’t enlist, they were too attached to give me back.

Like most kids who realize they weren’t raised by their biological parents, I sometimes wondered as I got older what it would have been like to grow up with my mother, stepfather, brother and sister. I always come back to knowing that this was the design for my life, and I am beyond grateful to have been raised by my grandparents.

Parents are the people who love you whether by genetics or choice. I think its extra special when a child is chosen by a set of parents. That’s a sort of love that not every person has within them. Both my grandmother and mother adopted and fostered children.

One of the unfortunate realities we face in Virginia is we’re annually ranked one of the top states for income producing and economic stability and one of the worst for child adoption—49th out of 50, according to data collected by the Children’s Home Society of Virginia. It’s mind blowing.

Adoptions may not be right for everyone, but maybe fostering is your jam. Being that adoption and foster care were an integral part of my upbringing, it’s something I’ve long considered.

In this issue, we talked to families who have chosen to adopt children. It’s not an easy path, but when you have a big heart with a lot of love to give, it’s a natural path. And if you’ve got a story about your experience with adoption and foster care, I’d love to hear from you.