November is National Adoption Month and RaiseAChild.US is celebrating with twice weekly “Let Love Define Family™” series installments in Huffington Post Gay Voices. Today’s story features an ally of RaiseAChild.US whose involvement in National Adoption Month media campaign comes from a personal connection with adoption.
When I happened to meet Dari Nowkhah at an event in Charlotte, NC, I recognized him from his work at ESPN and noticed his striking, multiracial family. In a casual conversation with him, his warmth and welcoming attitude toward all people fascinated me and I wanted to learn more about him. He generously agreed to record a public service announcement (PSA) for RaiseAChild.US and share his thoughts with our readers. -- Rich Valenza, RaiseAChild.Us
When it comes to adoption, ESPN anchor Dari Nowkhah wears his heart on his sleeve.
“Blood does not define family. Just because a child would look different or have different biological parents doesn’t mean that they’re not family to us,” said Dari.
After he and his wife, Jenn, expanded their family with the adoption of their daughter Nahla, Dari found himself speaking out as often as possible about the benefits of family building through adoption.
“Our adoptive daughter is just like our other kids,” Dari said. “There’s no difference between her and our other two kids in any way, shape or form.”
This month, Dari filmed a public service announcement for RaiseAChild.US to ask all prospective parents to “let love define family.” As an ally of RaiseAChild.US, Dari’s contribution to its National Adoption Month media campaign will help raise awareness of the 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system who are in need of safe, loving and permanent homes.
At the time of our interview, Nahla was about to celebrate her fifth birthday with a huge party.
“We hear a lot of, ‘It’s amazing what you did for your daughter,’ but our answer is always, 'What’s amazing is what she has brought to us,'” said her father. “From day one, Nahla has been as important a part of our family as any of us. She makes us proud that we did this every day, proud of ourselves and proud of Nick, the older brother, for being such a good big brother to her.”
Neither parent knew of any particularly close friend who was adopted who might have inspired them to adopt. They just genuinely loved children and could not deny their urge to be loving parents to a child in need, especially a child of color, for whom there is greater adoptive need.
Dari and Jenn have had three biological children together. In 2011 they lost an infant son, Hayden, while he awaited a heart transplant. They have turned their grief into hope for other children through creating Hayden’s Hope, a foundation that raises awareness about pediatric organ donation.
Dari admits that sometimes his mixed race family gets looks. “There are times, very rarely for me, but my wife gets it more -- when somebody gives her an interesting look or even a bit of a disapproving look when she is out with the children. Maybe it is because of a stereotypes or racism. All it does is make us give Nahla a bigger hug. What’s most important to us is that all of our children are happy and treated equally.”
And what does Nahla think about her brother and sister? Like all siblings they sometimes argue, but in a home that preaches respect and love she “does that better than we could have ever hoped.”
At the end of the interview I asked Dari if there was something more that he wanted to cover. He was quick to respond.
“There are a lot of people out there that have a false notion that family is defined by blood. Family is not defined by blood. I firmly believe that. As you know, Rich, you and your partner can’t physically have kids, and that does not mean you wouldn’t make incredible parents. Thank God you can adopt. So the whole family is defined by blood thing just needs to go away. It needs to go away forever.”
For National Adoption Month, RaiseAChild.US is hosting two free events for prospective foster and adoptive parents. We hope you will join us and learn about the advantages of building a family through fostering and adoption: Tuesday, Dec. 2 at The Garner House in Claremont, CA and Wednesday, Dec. 3 at The Montalbàn Theatre in Hollywood, CA. RSVP and information are available at www.RaiseAChild.US.
RaiseAChild.US is a national organization headquartered in Hollywood, California that encourages the LGBT community to build families through fostering and adopting to serve the needs of the 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Since 2011, RaiseAChild.US has run media campaigns and events to educate prospective parents and the public, and has engaged more than 2,400 prospective parents. For information about how you can become a foster or fost/adopt parent, visit www.RaiseAChild.US.