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#039;Angels in Adoption#039; visit nation#039;s capital

"Angels"

from across the country, including two from Lawrence County, visited Washington D.C. last month to be honored as "Angels in Adoption."

In July, Jerry and Faye Hammond of Ironton were selected by Congressman Ted Strickland to be two of 277 "Angels" honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). The Hammonds visited Washington, D.C. in late September to accept the award.

"Jerry and Faye are truly doing the Lord's work," Strickland said in a written statement.

"This family is dedicated to sharing their lives with children, and I am very proud to ask them to represent Ohio's Sixth Congressional District as "Angels in Adoption.""

"This was the longest we have been away from the kids since Caleb was born," Faye said. "It feels pretty good (to receive the award) but we really do it for the kids."

Because they were unable to take their kids with them, they videotaped the trip and brought them souvenirs. The family hopes to take the children to visit next year, Faye said.

The Hammonds got a chance to tour the city and meet other people who have adopted children. One of their favorite sites was the capital building. They toured the Whispering Room and ate breakfast in the capital.

"They had a chandelier probably as big as our house," she said.

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute honors people from across the country each year by presenting them with the Congressional "Angels in Adoption" award.

One hundred and forty Members of Congress from all 50 states have participated in this year's program.

CCAI is a non-profit organization focusing on raising awareness about foster children and orphans around the world.

In the U.S. alone, more than 550 thousand children are in the foster care system with tens of thousands available for adoption.

The Hammonds were certified as therapeutic foster parents in 1992 while Jerry and Faye were in their late-twenties and their first child, Caleb, was just born.

They have since opened their home to more than 60 children.

They have three biological children Caleb, 11; Jacob, 9 and Jazmine, 2. Earlier this year, they finalized the adoption of two sisters, Brittany, 8 and Nikki, 7.

Right now they do not have any foster children living with them but will probably be opening their home to a teenager soon, Faye said.

The Hammonds were nominated for the award by the Ohio S.A.F.E. (Special Alternative Family Environments) Foster Care Program.

"I was incredibly moved by the Hammonds' story, and their eagerness to help children in need," Strickland said.

"Hundreds of thousands of American children are awaiting adoption."

"I hope that the example set by the Hammonds and other foster and adoptive parents throughout the U.S. will inspire other families to get involved with this crucial program."