MISSOULA – One long journey ended and another began for a dozen Missoula area families who finalized their adoptions in a special ceremony on Tuesday.
There were plenty of tears and cheers as a judge declared them forever families in a room packed with families and children and friends and parents — all there for one thing, to put the final dot on the eye of adoption.
Judge John Larson along with his legal team and lawyers set up a courtroom of sorts in at the Missoula Community Theater where parents promised to love and care for the children they were legally adopting.
A dozen families in all waited for their turn in front of the judge and where the families were already joined in their hearts, this was the final paperwork needed to make it all legal.
Each family has their own adoption story.
“I’ve been a deputy with the Missoula County Sheriff’s department for four years now. I’ve just had some really troubling cases like most law enforcement officers do,” adoptive dad Travis Wafsted said. “I encounter kids every day that are in good and bad situations. And it really weighed on me that we need to do something and this was the thing we chose to do”
The families will tell you that adoption is not a quick and easy process — it’s a lot of hard work and can take an emotional toll. but in the end, the reward is worth it.
“I will say it’s changed our lives and our kids lives. It is hard. It’s difficult, but the reward is what you feel for these kids. It’s unbelievable. Our love for these two children is not different than our love for our older girls,” adoptive father Shawn Smalley told MTN News.
Catholic, Lutheran social services, the state health department and Dan Fox Family Care all played a role in bringing these families together. It was a joyous day for those social workers, too.
“This is really the culmination of a lot of hard work–months of paperwork and home studies–even years sometimes,” said Catholic Social Services social worker Jennifer Greenwood.
Both Lutheran and Catholic social services also provide services to pregnant women who are thinking about placing their babies for adoption.