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Students

Adoption Leads to Compassion and a Calling

Author Dana Brandorff | Publish Date May 13, 2020

All he wanted was a plastic toy car. At 4 years old, that was what Josh Harrington wanted and he was going to get it.

Wandering off to a local grocery store with pennies in his pocket, Harrington had no idea what he had set in motion.

For him and his two sisters (ages 7 and 1), it was the end of a rough “first few years of life. And the beginning of something good.” After the store clerk called the police -- they went to his home, removed his sisters, and placed all three of them into the foster care system. Deemed unfit because of behavioral health issues and drug problems by Child Protective Services, Harrington’s biological parents faded from the picture. 

“We got lucky,” said Harrington. “We were adopted by the most awesome family and had a normal childhood.”

According to the Adoption Network, adoption rates of foster children began improving in the late 2000s. By 2014, 50% of children in foster care were adopted, nearly 30% spent at least three years in the system, and the average age of a waiting child before adoption was 7.7 years old. “It was rare to be pulled out of CPS -- especially three siblings. For whatever reason, they made a recommendation to my parents and we spent negligible time in the system.”

Now one of five children, Harrington was the only boy in a sea of girls. “I was the pesky little brother,” he said with a grin.

After graduating from high school, he signed up for the Marine Corps Reserves where he has served for the past 10 years. In addition to the Reserves, Harrington became a certified nurse assistant at an assisted living facility. “I didn’t know something was missing until I stepped up into that role. There’s something fulfilling about caretaking,” said Harrington. After community college and one semester at Metropolitan State College, he applied to CU College of Nursing and was accepted. “Nursing is a profession of compassion. I see it as a way to give back because of what I’ve been given.”