“This is the best day of the year for me!” Barbara Harrison told the crowd at D.C. Superior Court Saturday. “I have never enjoyed any part of my job in the television news business as much as I do this.”
This year, the NBC4 anchor emceed her 25th consecutive D.C. Adoption Day at the court, introducing each child as they formally joined their new family. In the fickle world of local news, Harrison has become a permanent fairy godmother to the city’s foster kids with her signature “Wednesday’s Children” segments — and presided over every adoption ceremony since D.C.’s first in 1987.
“This is the 25th? I can’t believe it!” she gasped to the audience. “I guess I started when I was 10?”
Not quite, but she was a young reporter 30 years ago when the station first asked her to do an occasional series on “forgotten children.” Within weeks she realized that “there are probably a lot more kids in foster care who were lost in the system.” Harrison asked her bosses to turn their stories into a weekly feature; now station in cities all over the country have regular programming modelled after “Wednesday’s Child.”
Harrison, who has four children, said there were many times over the years when she was tempted to adopt one of the kids featured on the show. ”I know that I could give them the love; I don’t know if I could give them the time,” she said. “I’ve had kids ask me, ‘Will you take me?’ It’s hard. I’ve usually said, ‘Let’s wait and see what happens. I really believe there’s a special family just perfect for you.’ “
And there have been hundreds over the years. On Saturday, 29 children — ranging from infants to a 20-year-old about to age out of foster care — were adopted by 22 families. The mood was joyous as Harrison called out each child’s name and an entourage of beaming moms, dads, aunts, uncles, social workers and lawyers made their way to the front where judges signed their final adoption papers.
No time to linger — Harrison jumped off the stage, grabbed her microphone and started interviewing the new families in hopes of inspiring prospective adoptive parents. And no, there’s zero chance she’ll turn over “Wednesday’s Child” anytime soon: “It’s the one thing I don’t think I could give up.”