GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Three boys in Garfield County have only had each other. By the end of November, they will have an adoptive father and mother to complete their family and their dreams.
"We are very happy for this adoption to happen," said Mikki Baumann, Garfield County child welfare caseworker, noting that today is National Adoption Day.
"While these kids are getting a new family, and we don't have any other children awaiting adoption in Garfield County presently, we are in need locally of foster homes for adolescents and Spanish-speaking children," Baumann said.
There are more than 100,000 children nationwide in foster care, waiting to find permanent, loving families, and thousands of these are in Colorado.
In total, National Adoption Day has helped nearly 40,000 children move from foster care to forever families, by connecting courts, judges, attorneys, adoption professionals, child welfare agencies and advocates to finalize adoptions, and to find homes for children in foster care.
Communities across the nation celebrate National Adoption Day the Saturday before every Thanksgiving. This year, the National Adoption Day Coalition expects 4,500 foster care children to join the three Garfield County brothers in being adopted.
Garfield County will celebrate National Adoption Day in partnership with Eagle and Pitkin counties with a free family festival on Monday in Glenwood Springs. This year's event features food, entertainment, dancing and face painting.
Goals are to celebrate adoptive families, to create awareness of foster care and adoption needs in our community, and to recruit foster care homes.
One of the speakers will be Garfield County Family Resource Manager Susan Garcia. She will speak from experience about the adoptions of her own children, a boy and a girl, ages 13 and 11, who she adopted as a newborn and a 1-year old.
"They are my kids. Adoption for me is the best thing that ever happened," Garcia said. "I feel really blessed that I was fortunate to have my kids come into my life the way they did.
"My daughter had a rocky time more than my son, and I feel happy that God really matched us. My son looks like me, my daughter looks like her dad, and the way they came into our lives was really a miracle. They make my life better, and I forget that I am an adoptive mother, because they are my own," she said.
Garcia points out that adoption may involve a process of acceptance.
"I had a grief and loss process of not having biological children, but after I got through that, it was seamless. I love children, wanted a home with children, and couldn't imagine my life without a child.
"My son said, 'God has picked you out for me because he knew you would be a good mommy.' That's why I love my job, working with foster care and adoption, and I also used to be a foster parent. It's important for families to be safe havens for kids," Garcia said.
She said the paperwork takes about half the time that a pregnancy takes.
"You have that wait, and then to have a child that you can call your own and be a part of your family is just phenomenal. And we are there to help and be resourceful in the adoption process," she said.
Another speaker, Cherri Wall, a Garfield County adult protection caseworker, will talk about her family's experience.
"I adopted through Garfield County years ago, long before I worked here. My daughter is 23 years old, I have two other kids, and my youngest is our adoptive daughter. I would like to encourage people that have some interest in adopting to meet people who are raising adoptive children, and find out what it is all about, to learn and find out more about the process."
For more information on National Adoption Day, please visit nationaladoptionday.org.