Beanie Babies bring awareness

beanie babies

courtesy of istock.

beanie babies

Jaki Cavins

Brightly colored balloons and a plethora of Beanie Babies will fill the normally stark and stoic Polk County Courthouse for the Beanie Baby Drive for Adoption on Nov. 7.

It all started in 1995 when, according to, then-President Bill Clinton expanded what was once Adoption Week, instigated by Ronald Reagan, into Adoption Awareness Month. 

Every year since, the president of the United States has made a proclamation in early November to kickstart its beginning in hopes of encouraging and recognizing adoption.

Promoting awareness as well as building a positive outlook on adoption are major priorities during the month. Campaigns, celebrations and events to raise awareness such as the Beanie Baby Drive occur to show appreciation to families with adopted children.

Originating in California, the Beanie Baby Drive for Adoption was started to help decrease the backlog of adoptions. It was a success and has since grown into a national event. For 14 years it has been held in Des Moines, taking place at the Polk County Courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

People of all ages have attended in the past and around 300 people come from out of town each year to participate.

Lawyer Michelle Becker has worked with the Des Moines Beanie Baby Drive for Adoption for seven years.

“This year we have about 28 families that adopted 40 kids,” Becker said.

She described how significant and different the day is for the kids who have been through the foster care system.

 The courtroom, which they normally dread is transformed into a brightly decorated festival.

“We plaster it with Beanie Babies, they are everywhere,” Becker said.

Crafts galore, music and a heaping supply of fuzzy stuffed animals welcome any child who attends. 

The day is one filled with festivities, including a visit from Miss Iowa.

Becker noted that unfortunately the need for families for children in foster care is definitely growing. 

Adoption Awareness Month and events like the Beanie Baby Drive for Adoption hope to decrease these numbers and shine a light on the fact that there are children who do not have families or homes.

The Beanie Baby Drive for Adoption event is meant to provide adopted children with a day to feel appreciated, joyful and care-free.

Kai McGee from Iowa Care Center talked about the importance of events like the Beanie Baby Drive for Adoption and Adoption Awareness month in general.

“There are quite a few children in Iowa who are very much in need of a family,” McGee said. “I believe that every child deserves a safe, loving family.”