Seven-year-old Abigail Roderick was all smiles as she paraded around the Spokane County Courthouse in a layered white dress Friday morning.
Her mother, Cindi, had just finalized the adoption of Abigail’s 2 1/2-year-old sister, Alivia.
“I felt really happy,” Abigail said after the adoption hearing. “I love my sister more than anything.” The girls wore matching dresses, flower headbands and homemade brown cardigans.
It was an emotional day for Cindi Roderick, too. She’s a foster parent who has raised Alivia since the girl was just 5 days old.
“It’s just amazing, because my daughter and her are so close,” she said.
The Rodericks were one of about 20 families celebrating National Adoption Day at the courthouse. Families appeared before a judge to make the new members of their family official, then went to the courthouse annex for a party.
The celebration put most children’s birthday parties to shame, with appearances from a slew of Disney princesses, including Elsa from “Frozen,” free ice cream and face-painting.
All the adoptees were foster children, and many of them have lived with their forever families for years.
Meaghan Flowers attended with her 3-year-old daughter, Angelina, whose adoption she finalized a few weeks ago. She’s raised Angelina since she was 5 months old.
“It was such a sigh of relief, because it was such a long road to get to adoption,” she said.
Angelina sat patiently across from her mother in a layered pink dress. “Mommy, can I have my ice cream?” she asked, gesturing to her cup of sorbet.
Flowers also has an adopted teenage daughter and three biological children. She and her husband have been foster parents for six-and-a-half years, starting when their oldest son was just 1.
Flowers works at FosteringWA, the agency that contracts with the Department of Social and Health Services’ Children’s Administration to recruit foster parents. She said it’s been a rewarding experience, especially taking in emergency placements, which sometimes come in the middle of the night.
“Often they come with just the clothes on their backs,” she said.
The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their biological parents, but that’s not always possible. In cases where the biological parents can’t care for their children, foster families can choose to adopt, though the process can take years.
Some parents worry about raising foster children along with their own biological children, but Flowers said it’s helped her children learn empathy and love for others.
“Other kids don’t live the same way we do, and we get to help those kids,” she said.
Her son recently asked her if fostering children was the family’s divine calling.
“He came to me the other day and said, ‘Mom, did God use us to save the world?’ ” she recalled.
By midmorning, it was the Needham family’s turn to appear before Superior Court Judge John Cooney. Parents Nicole and David have received guardianship of four children and adopted two more, all from their extended family after the biological parents were unable to take care of them.
“We’re a made family,” Nicole Needham said.
In court, they finalized the adoption of 2-year-old Gabriella. One by one, her older siblings told Cooney what they liked about their sister. Then, friends of the family told Cooney why the couple would make good adoptive parents. Many worked with David Needham at the Children’s Administration.
Gabrielle seemed unconcerned about the proceedings as she paced around the floor of the courtroom, colored on a notebook and ate a chocolate bar supplied by a social worker.
Cooney listened to the testimony, then paused before signing off on the adoption. “The only question I have is who’s holding down the fort at the Children’s Administration?” he said, looking at the dozen social workers in the room who were there supporting David.
As the room laughed, Cooney stamped the adoption petition and Gabriella smiled.
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