Coming before a judge in a court of law can be more than a little intimidating for most people. But on National Adoption Day, judges, bailiffs, court reporters, lawyers and others flip the script creating a fun and welcoming environment for children and their forever families.
Families — dressed in their Sunday best — complete with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends pack courtrooms for the happy occasion. Some children are too small to really understand everything that is taking place. It is most poignant for the teens who are interviewed by the judge and must consent to being adopted.
Pima County native Dimon Sanders was one of those children; she cycled through 13 foster homes after coming into foster care at the age of eight. “There is no doubt in my mind that my path would be totally different if it weren’t for my parents,” she said. “I would not be who I am if I hadn’t met my Mommy and Daddy!”
Justin Charlebois was adopted by Richard and Paula Charlebois more than 19 years ago. He remembers: “At the time I wanted a mom and dad so badly. They took me in and raised me as their own. I feel they saved my life by steering me in the right direction, helping me out and being the people I could always rely on, no matter what.” Parents Richard and Paula continued to grow their family; in 2015 when they were featured in People Magazine this Arizona family was 18 strong, including the two parents, 13 legally adopted children, 2 permanent legal guardianships and a little boy in their care who they were hoping to adopt.
“We don’t see our kids as throwaways like a lot of society does,” says Paula. “We see them as butterflies coming out of their cocoon, finding their wings. And we’re along for the journey to guide and encourage them.”
In November 2016 Arizonans celebrated National Adoption Day in Pinal County on November 5. On November 19 there were celebrations in Maricopa, Yavapai and Yuma Counties, all held at the county juvenile court facilities. Sunday, November 20, Pima County’s celebration was held at Udall Park, where park ramadas were transformed into court rooms, across the road from inflatable bounce houses and barbeque grills. All combined, more than 450 Arizona children were adopted into their forever families in just this one month.
To learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, visit https://dcs.az.gov/services/foster-care-and-adoption. To see children in need of forever families, visit http://www.childrensheartgallery.org/.
Roxann L. Miller
Home Recruitment Marketing
and Communication Specialist
with the Department of Child Safety