ELKO – Before Thanksgiving, several Elko County children will have something extra to be thankful for when they are adopted on Nov. 21 as part of National Adoption Day.
On that day, Elko District Judges Nancy Porter and Al Kacin will preside over several adoptions of children under 18 years old, ranging from step-parent and foster parent adoptions to private agency adoptions.
A two-hour lunch in the County Commissioners room sponsored by Newmont Mining Corp. for the families is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and includes a speech by Family Court Master Andrew Mierins. Families who took part in last year’s adoption day are also invited to the lunch.
Each child will also receive an antique teddy bear donated by Public Guardian Kathy Jones, Porter said.
“National Adoption Day and Month encourages adoption of foster children,” Porter said, adding there are about 110,000 foster children available for adoption throughout the country.
Since 2014, Elko County has recognized National Adoption Day, which is officially the third Saturday in November, which is also National Adoption Month. This year, the event comes after the official National Adoption Day on Nov. 18.
The event also raises awareness for the need for more foster families, Porter said.
“We are desperately in need in qualified foster parents,” said Veronica Hagen, adoption worker with the Department of Child and Family Services, explaining that more foster families are needed for child placement by the DCFS and not necessarily adoption.
The amount of adoptions and foster families willing to adopt have increased in Elko County, Porter said.
Currently in Elko County, there is only one teen in foster care available for adoption, said Hagen.
The adoption day event is organized by the Community Improvement Council, a committee that “tries to improve court processes and conditions for families whose children are in foster care,” Porter explained.
The long-term benefits for foster children adopted into a safe family environment are backed up by statistics, said Kriston Hill, public defender.
“Statistically, children that are adopted excel and do much better than those who are in foster care,” Hill said.
Hagen said she notices changes in foster children before the adoption process is completed, adding that DCFS provides services to help “the family acclimate to each other’s personalities and struggles.”
“We do see families come back with success stories,” Hagen said. “We see them interacting and [being] happy, normal children, [which is] awesome to see from the sad kids we saw before.”
Another aspect of adoption is how it helps couples who cannot have children, Porter said.
Teri Lockie, of Premier Adoption Agency, a private agency, works with birth parents and adoptive parents, and sees how an adoption is “emotional” for everyone involved.
Porter said she looks forward to the day because the tone of the courtroom changes into “a celebration.”
“It’s the best thing that happens in the courtroom,” Porter said. “I feel good all day.”
The CIC includes Veronica Hagen, DCFS adoption worker; Kriston Hill, public defender; Teri Lockie, Premier Adoption Agency; Alana McKinney, Northeastern Nevada CASA; Andrew Mierins, family court master; Curtis Moore, Elko County District Attorney; District Judge Nancy Porter; Michelle Rodriguez, attorney; and Jennifer Spencer, child advocacy attorney.
For those interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting a foster child, call DCFS at 753-1300. For private adoptions, contact Teri Lockie at 340-0667.