On the second floor of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, the sounds of laughter and running feet filled the hall in front of the courtrooms. Mascots from Denver’s sports teams hugged children, while other people posed in front of a camera for a family portrait. For 14-year-old Jassir, dressed in a suit and tie, it was a special time.
For many in Denver, Nov. 8 was a normal day. But for 23 children and their now official families, it was adoption day.
Jassir said that as soon as he entered the building, he could feel the “vibe” of the other families — a feeling of happiness, and even relief. Now, Jassir could join Morgan and Jeff Richards in their home with a sense of normalcy, no more meetings or paperwork. In the eyes of the law, he was now their son.
“We’re a family of four when we leave the courthouse today,” Morgan said.
Dozens of people came to support the Richards family at the courthouse. Members of Jassir’s biological family joined in as well. Jeff said that the day meant they were not only accepting Jassir into their lives, but his family too.
Although the adoption process can have its ups and downs, Jassir said he was always “focusing on the big picture” and getting to the final stage. Jassir first began living with the Morgans last summer. But he knew the Morgans were the right fit when he first matched with the family through the Denver Human Services program.
“I could feel it,” he said of their bond.
Denver has been celebrating National Adoption Day for the last 15 years. In that time, 753 kids have been adopted during the one-day event in Colorado.
According to a news release from the city, Denver Human Services offers the only public adoption option in Colorado.
Families like the Richardses, who are willing to foster and adopt teens, are a rare thing. The family has one other child, an adopted daughter, 16-year-old Teagan, and Jeff said they knew they wanted to adopt a child close in age. Morgan added that there’s a greater need for teens to find a family that will take them.
The need for a happy and healthy home for these children, was something that all the families could agree on. A news release from the city said that there are 433 children in need of adoptive homes in Colorado.
Many of the families adopting children at the event are also foster parents, such as the Hoags
“(Today is) all about the joy and celebration,” said Julie Hoag, who was at the courthouse finalizing the adoption for 2-year-old Lukas.
Julie and her husband Nathan became licensed foster parents seven years ago when the couple were both 28 years old. Since then, they have fostered 15 children and adopted two, including Lukas. “Children need a safe and loving home,” she said of their decision to foster. The couple also has a biological daughter.
Although fostering can come with its own set of challenges — such as saying goodbye to children who are adopted or reunified with their biological families — Julie said that helping provide the kids what they need can make all the difference.
For many of the families, finalizing the adoption is a legal formality. They have accepted each other as family long before stepping foot in the courtroom. One family brought a small decorated sign for their family adoption that read “We are his village.”
In the courtroom, the judge asked Morgan Richards why she wanted to adopt Jassir. She tearfully spoke of the strengths he brings in to their home. “Every child deserves a family,” Morgan added.
After they finalized the adoption, Morgan and Jeff Richards stood at the front of the courtroom along with the judge and their two children, Teagan and Jassir, for photos of the occasion.
“We have a lot of love behind us,” Morgan said, smiling.
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