Faith Rousso, an adoption attorney from Roslyn, knows what it’s like when you don’t know who has your back.
For the past two years, she has been raising money through friends and family to hand out gift cards to foster care children in Nassau County. The Garden City-based lawyer has been doing so through the Nassau County Department of Social Services, but since COVID-19 has taken it upon herself to keep the efforts going. Over the last three years, Rousso has given over 200 gift cards that have been distributed.
Rousso’s involvement with foster services can be traced back through her life, when she was adopted after seven months with the Louise Wise adoption agency, a fact she was unaware of until she was moving her parents out of their Glen Cove home.
“It was surreal to me,” Rousso said in an interview. “Looking at these documents, my life could have been very different just based on the family I ended up with.”
The revelation led Rousso to eventually open her own practice 12 years ago, where she was focused on making the adoption process smoother for other families, she said.
It was at her practice that she started to give her clients ticket packages to see the WNBA’s New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden, with the help of a family member who worked with the team.
“It started out very small, maybe one or two families at first,” Rousso said.
Rousso was able to get more tickets as larger families wanted to attend the games. She eventually contacted the Nassau County Department of Social Services, which she said really put things in motion.
“I was able to organize about 75 tickets the first year,” said Rousso.
It wasn’t until one of the games, where the arena was inviting different children’s groups from around the area, that she reached out to her friends for help. The organizations attending, mostly from summer camps, were all going to wear matching T-shirts with accompanying lunch boxes.
Rousso, who was paying mostly out of pocket, knew how important it was to get the shirts. With a little over a week until the game, she reached out on social media and through her network for any help she could find to cover the costs. Rousso said that even after everything, she had around $5,000 to spare.
She then went back to the county, which invited her to a holiday party in hope of fixing a problem. According to Rousso, many of the donations that the county receives are toys meant for smaller children. The idea was for Rousso to purchase gift cards and hand them out to older children in foster care to let them get something that they wanted.
“They told me the older kids pretty much come out empty-handed,” Rousso said.
In lieu of the holiday party this year, Rousso has been accepting the donations herself and will be until the middle of January. County caseworkers will distribute the donations to teens on their monthly visits.
“At the end of the day it’s one little thing but giving a holiday is like the icing on the cake,” Rousso said.“
She said that she has amazing friends, family and colleagues that have been allowing her to do this. With a personal connection to the children she is helping, Rousso wants to make sure they have a great holiday because she knows what it is like through her work when someone isn’t looking out for you.
“My heart goes out to these kids because I feel that they’re entitled to permanency,” she said. “Permanency is knowing who has your back.”
Rousso also serves on the Nassau County Bar Association’s board of directors and Nassau’s Women’s Bar Association as part of the executive board.
Anyone seeking to make a donation can inquire about doing so at faith@RAdopt.com