Celebrating Adoption, Celebrating Family at the Northern Champions for Children Luncheon
March 16 was always a special day in the home where Kyle York, a member of Children’s Home & Aid’s Northern Regional Advisory Board, grew up.
“We called it my ’Airplane Day,’ Kyle York recalls. “That was the day in 1988 that my parents first met me at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.”
Kyle was adopted from South Korea as a 3-month old infant, with the help of Children’s Home & Aid. The annual celebration of his adoption always included the story of how he was carried off the airplane by a South Korean military soldier, in full dress uniform and met by an ecstatic welcoming party of extended York family members.
“My mom loved to tell me how the whole family was there to welcome me,” Kyle recalls. “To me, my ’Airplane Day‘ was just another fun celebration every year, when I got to go out and eat Korean food!”
Kyle grew up in a family that celebrated his adoption and that of his domestically adopted younger brother. “I had a wonderful family, wonderful parents, and I always felt loved,” Kyle says. “Sometimes when I was younger, I would wonder about my biological family, and what had happened, but it never bothered me because I had such a wonderful childhood and upbringing.”
Kyle started giving back to Children’s Home & Aid as a teenager, when he would speak to prospective adoptive parents who were interested in learning about adoption. “They liked hearing the perspective of an actual adoptee,” Kyle says. He continued to help his mom, who has been a Children’s Home & Aid employee for 14 years, with the annual Holiday Gift Drive, which provides gifts for children living in foster care.
Once Kyle finished college and began his working career, he wanted to get more involved at a board level. “My mentor at work told me to find an organization in which I had a passion for serving, and that was clearly Children’s Home & Aid,” Kyle says. He has served on the Northern Region Advisory board for the last three years, and is serving on the event committee for the third annual Champions for Children Luncheon, which will be held on Thursday, June 14 at Giovanni’s Restaurant in Rockford.
Chaired by Melissa Leuzinger and Neely Erickson, the Champions for Children Luncheon is a celebration of the possibilities of children and families, and raises essential support for Children’s Home & Aid’s programs in the Rockford area. Kyle will be sharing his story as an adoptee whose life was forever changed by Children’s Home & Aid.
“I am very grateful for the role Children’s Home & Aid played in my life, and the impact the agency has in the lives of so many people in the community,” says Kyle. “We all know there is tremendous need in the Rockford community—I am happy to be able to support and share the good work that Children’s Home & Aid is doing.
In addition to his work with Children’s Home & Aid, Kyle is one of the core members of the Fatherhood Encouragement Project, an initiative that teaches men about affirmation leadership within the home and in the workplace. The organization provides support to all men who want to be better fathers and husbands while giving back to the community. Kyle is married to his wife Michelle and is a busy dad to three children ages 2-10.
“Becoming a dad was a profound experience for me, and I want to do everything I can to be the best father I can for my kids,” Kyle says. “It made me even more dedicated to the programs Children’s Home & Aid offers, because I know there would be a lot of lost families and children without the services Children’s Home & Aid provides.”
For more information about the June 14 Champions for Children luncheon in Rockford, visit childrenshomeandaid.org/championsnorthern.