“He’s changed our lives”: Adams County celebrates families on National Adoption Day

You can’t miss them. The entourage of 15 fills a whole row, a block of black T-shirts broken up only by teal lettering: “Love Makes A Family” on the back and “Forever Family 2017” on the front next to an infant’s hand print over the wearers’ hearts. That hand print belongs to the little boy in the aisle tugging the string attached to a purple balloon.

The boy, nearly 2, doesn’t know it, but the people about to adopt him are not his natural parents. Becky and Chad drove from their Littleton home with supportive family and friends in tow to make official their relationship to the child they’ve raised since June 2016. (The family requested their last names be withheld to protect Aiden and a sibling.)

Aiden is one of 12 children who were legally joined to 10 families at the Adams County Justice Center in Brighton on Nov. 17 in celebration of National Adoption Day. Adams County officials say they expect to finalize a total of 150 adoptions this year.

National Adoption Day was first celebrated Nov. 18, 2000, to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children available for adoption at any given time in the United States. Nearly 65,000 U.S. children were adopted through annual events tied to National Adoption Day between 2000 and 2016.

The steady trickle of families juggling toddlers, strollers and Paw Patrol-branded backpacks move through security and into a large, sunny room. Beams of light bounce off dozens of purple balloons — purple symbolizing adoption awareness. County case workers and other human services employees stand out from the crowd in their all-purple ensembles or plum accessories.

Adoption is personal for many in the room. Permanency manager Edie Winters has an adopted niece and grandnephew. Commissioner Chaz Tedesco, an Adams County native, was put into foster care at birth.

“The kids you’re taking care of and taking on and have a responsibility for, they will thank you. And they need you,” Tedesco said. “They need your guidance, they need your direction, they need your support, your hope, your prayers. Everything you can give them, they need.”

After readings, including the “starfish story,” about one’s ability to affect another’s life, and a brief dance party to Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” it’s time for official action.

The future grandparents, aunts and close friends of Aiden’s soon-to-be family fill one side of the courtroom benches. Another family sits across the aisle — the family of case workers and attorneys who shepherded him, from a home life deemed unsuitable, into Becky and Dave’s open arms.

Aiden scrambles to reach over the table and leaf through pens and Post-it notes that were once neatly arranged. Becky gently holds him back. They sport matching black-and-white, Adidas Stan Smith sneakers. (“[They were] too narrow for me,” Dave adds.)

All rise for District Court Judge Priscilla Loew, whose black robes and turquoise teardrop earrings mirror the family’s T-shirts. The emotion in the room gifts the coincidence with weight.

“No normal rules apply in a courtroom on an adoption,” Loew says from the judge’s bench.

Loew leads Becky first, and then Dave, through a series of questions. Are you married? Yes. For how long? Seven years. Do you work outside the home? Yes — Becky is a preschool teacher, Dave is in shipping and receiving. The couple promises to abide by the responsibility to educate, nurture and foster Aiden into adulthood — the same as they would any child born to them.

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