The Arapahoe County District Courthouse is typically a somber, formal government building. But every National Adoption Day, it’s pure fun.
On Wednesday, November 20, parents, children, caseworkers, judges, County officials, and other supporters gathered to celebrate the completion of “forever family” adoptions. The event was sponsored by the County and its Collaborative Foster Care Program, which strives to place foster kids in stable homes and produce permanent accommodations whenever possible.
Arapahoe County Human Services holds this event every November—this year’s official National Adoption Day falls on Saturday, November 23—to honor these families and the dedicated staffers who helped bring them together. This year’s ceremony featured 31 kids adopted by 24 families; as of late-October, the County had finalized 72 foster-to-family adoptions in 2019.
In front of tables stacked with pizza, cake, and soda, County commissioners Jeff Baker and Kathleen Conti welcomed the attendees while the youngsters, dressed in their nicest outfits, bounced around the room. They posed for formal family portraits taken by a professional photographer, and—even more exciting—for snapshots with invited guests Spider-Man and Rapunzel.
“You’ve made the wonderful choice to adopt these children,” said Commissioner Conti to the families, “and for this incredible, selfless act of love, I offer you a huge thank you.”
Commissioner Baker shared a heartwarming story about returning from his military service in South Korea in 1980 with his new wife, who spent her first-ever plane trip helping adoption workers wrangle the flight’s 40 or so Korean infants and toddlers who were coming to the United States to meet their own forever families. “Today is a milestone for the children, parents, and adoption professionals who have made this day possible,” he said. “We want to honor these incredible people who have opened not only their homes, but their hearts to these kids.”
A short time later, the courtrooms upstairs, festooned with donated books, toys, and “juries” of stuffed animals, welcomed each hearing one by one. As Judge Natalie Chase told the gathering earlier, “Today’s the day I love; it makes me go. So thank you to the families and the caseworkers; without you we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs.”
The judge breezily led the first family and their caseworkers through the formal proceedings that finalized the adoptions of two siblings, a boy and his younger sister. As the judge spoke, the girl’s eyes widened at all the goodies in the room—each child is invited to take home one toy or stuffed animal and one book—and she zeroed in on the pinkest ones, vocally pointing them out from her father’s lap. The moment the hearing ended, the boy scrambled around the table to grab a bright pink makeup kit for his sister. He grandly offered it to her before the newly minted family of four posed with the judge for another picture, said one more heartfelt thank-you to their teary-eyed caseworkers, and headed off to their forever home.