Aberdeen family honored as ‘Angels in Adoption’

Emily and Dan Richardt have been fostering children for five years.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 8:14 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Emily and Dan Richardt have been fostering children for five years. Recently, they traveled to Washington, D.C., to be honored by U.S. Congress as Angels in Adoption.

Each year, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute recognizes families from each state who advocate for foster children as Angels of Adoption.

The Richardts were one of three families from South Dakota to be honored in 2022. They were nominated by Senator John Thune’s office.

When they found out they would be honored, the Richardts were shocked.

”Our reactions was basically, ‘Well, there’s far more deserving people than us.’ But at the same time, we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity to advocate for foster care,” said Emily Richardt.

While in D.C., the Richardts spoke to delegates about the Indian Child Welfare Act, which prioritizes placing Native American foster children with other Native American families, even if that means transferring those children to another state.

”While Emily and I both agree that the premise of the act is good and it’s a good law, we just don’t feel that Native American children from South Dakota should be shipped, potentially, to a tribe in Washington or out on the East Coast that may not even have the same cultural belief that South Dakotans do,” said Dan Richardt.

The Richardts say that under the Indian Child Welfare Act, the foster parents taking care of the child aren’t high on the list to be considered for adopting the child if they aren’t Native American themselves.

The Richardts have fostered Native American children, but fortunately, they’ve all been reunited with family members.

“But if they had not been, it would have been put out there nationally first before we were even considered for adoption purposes. That’s especially hard when you have a child who has already had trauma, and then they were being removed again. That’s a hard, hard thing for a child to go through,” said Emily.

The choice, according to Emily, should go to the child.

“We’d like to have foster parents be given an opportunity to adopt these children. We think it’s in the best benefit of the child. So, we’d like some preferences to be on the children and what benefits them, as opposed to sending them off somewhere else in the United States,” said Emily.

The Richardts do have a biological son, Brady. Dan and Emily say Brady sees the children his family fosters as his own siblings.

”I kind of treat it like just another brother or sister. I mean, it’s not like, ‘Oh, they’re a foster kid. They’re not my brother or sister. They’re not good enough.’ You have to treat them all equal,” said Brady.

Emily says there are challenges to fostering children, but she would encourage it to any family that can provide a loving home.

“I think the biggest thing that we hear from people is that, ‘I’ve always considered fostering, but I’d get too attached.’ As foster parents, it’s a little insulting, to be honest, because you want to get too attached. For them to imply that we don’t, I mean, we definitely do. We’d be doing a disservice to these kids if we didn’t get attached,” said Emily.