More than 50 foster care children were formally adopted during a series of hearings Saturday at the Riverside Historic Courthouse, in recognition of National Adoption Awareness Month.
The Riverside County Superior Court hosted the ceremonies, during which the adoption process was finalized for 56 children, welcomed into homes by 40 families who reside throughout the county, according to the Department of Public Social Services.
"I'm officially her mother," said Dr. Sacha Lewis of Temecula, who, with her husband, adopted an orphaned 2-year-old girl. "We are moving forward as a family. It's exciting."
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DPSS coordinated with the court to conduct the hearings, which were presided over by several judges and commissioners during a roughly four-hour span.
"Adoption Day is a true celebration of the coming together of families in our county and the commitment of many agencies to bring attention to such a worthwhile event," said Judith Clark, one of the presiding Riverside County Superior Court judges in a news release. "The court is honored to participate in a day that recognizes the process of adoption, shows the strong commitment of community members and witnesses the joy experienced by joining parents and children together as a new family."
The children who were adopted include toddlers and teenagers.
According to DPSS, more than 100 foster children are currently awaiting permanent placement with adoptive parents countywide.
"There are many wonderful children in need of loving and supportive families," said Sarah Mack, director of the Department of Public Social Services. "This is a community celebration that inspires families to consider adoption."
Until 2015, the county scheduled mass adoption events to coincide with National Adoption Day, which is traditionally the Saturday before Thanksgiving. According to DPSS spokeswoman Colette Crawford, officials decided to start holding the event earlier in the month because too many families complained of scheduling conflicts going into the holiday week.
About 150 people attended today's ceremony, including families, their friends and civic leaders.
Since National Adoption Day began in 2000, more than 75,000 children nationwide have been adopted from foster care on that day, according to the National Adoption Day Coalition.
National Adoption Awareness Month is intended to focus attention on the estimated 125,000 children in foster care eligible for permanent placement.
More information is available at
http://dpss.co.riverside.ca.us/childrens-services-division/adoption-information/adoptions-legal-guardianship, or by calling 800-665-5437.