DENVER, Nov. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- First Lady of Colorado Robin Hickenlooper and Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), on Saturday recognized five families as part of National Adoption Month. Nearly 100 people attended the luncheon celebration at the Governor's Mansion. Families from several Colorado counties were honored for their dedication to Colorado's kids. The families are featured in a series of videos unveiled at the event created to inspire Coloradans to consider fostering and adopting in Colorado.
"There are 283 children in Colorado in foster care today waiting for a home," said Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. "We are celebrating the people who become adoptive parents, and the families we're honoring today represent the best of the best. We hope their stories raise awareness and inspire others to consider adopting a child."
"I'm so thankful that these families have opened their heart and homes up to the children of Colorado," said First Lady Robin Hickenlooper. "When kids thrive, our communities thrive. We all must work together to build thriving communities that support healthy kids and strong families. I hope more people will hear these families' stories and consider fostering and adopting in Colorado."
The families honored included:
- James and Megan Black from Loveland
- Cathy C. from the Black Forest
- Ben and Heather Gonzales from Commerce City
- Sean and Olive McRae from Elbert
- Chris and Noël Mink from Aurora
There are 283 youth in foster care who are waiting for adoptive homes today. Colorado social services agencies are in need of foster homes, particularly families who are willing to care for children with special needs, sibling groups, and older youth.
Last year, there were 829 adoptions through the foster care system in Colorado. The day an adoption is finalized is one families never forget. During the month of November alone 95 will be finalized and an estimated 650 children will be adopted from Colorado's foster care system this year.
To learn more and watch a short video about each family visit www.CO4Kids.org.
Megan and James Black met their adopted son Trenton when he was in first grade. Trenton and the Black's biological son, Mikey, were best friends. Together with their children, Megan and James decided to adopt Trenton if there was ever an opportunity. Three years later, they started the adoption process. After learning that Trenton's younger biological sister Anna also needed an adoptive family, Megan and James welcomed her into their family. When it comes to parenting their six children who live at home – Emily, 16, Mikey and Trenton, both 10, Anna, 4, Vada, 2, and Silas, 4 months old, Megan and James agree that there is one secret to success: A lot of patience.
Cathy adopted for four-year-old daughter Erin when Erin was 3. Cathy immediately became Erin's strongest advocate even before the adoption was finalized. Having spent her entire career as a teacher of children who are deaf and hard of hearing, Cathy was confident that she could help Erin, who is hearing impaired. They started with cochlear implants, teaching sign language and, finally, Cathy successfully advocated for Erin to learn spoken English in school. As doctor appointments revealed additional, more complex medical needs, Cathy and Erin took it one step at a time. They relied on each other, a network of supportive friends and "Girl Power!"
Heather and Ben Gonzales had been foster parents for eight years when a group of five siblings were placed with them. They had no intention of adopting, but when the siblings they had cared for were available for adoption, Heather and Ben knew they had to adopt and keep the kids together. Keeping siblings together is so important, Heather says, because siblings are the only stability children who have been in foster care can count on.
For the Gonzales family, adoption and foster care run in the family. The Gonzales children have two other biological siblings who were both adopted by Ben and Heather's relatives.
Olive and Sean McRae had been married for nearly a decade when they adopted their son Jake. Olive had always been interested in adoption, but it was seeing his own sister adopt a child that opened Sean up to what he describes as the "beauty of foster care and adoption." Both teachers, Olive and Sean understood that Jake would need time to adjust to their Elbert home as well as additional supports to encourage attachment and bonding. They educated themselves and actively sought training to better understand their son.
Chris and Noel Mink opened their home to their first adoptive son, Jeremiah when he was 3. Jeremiah became a big brother when his parents adopted his sister Lexi when she was 2. Next came 16-year-old Autumn, who was adopted on National Adoption Day in 2015.
Their commitment to their children's well-being is one reason that Chris and Noel encourage connections with biological families. The Minks and their children stay in touch with biological families through texting, Facebook and even special occasions such as weddings and holidays.
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SOURCE Colorado Department of Human Services