Six children became part of new families during Friday’s National Adoption Day ceremony at the Benton County Justice Center.
Benton-Franklin Superior Court has been celebrating the event since 2006.
Adoption hearings are not usually open to the public, except for a few days in November when courts and communities across Washington and the United States celebrate National Adoption Day, according to the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services.
Other Tri-City children were adopted Friday in a private hearing in a separate courtroom.
More than 140 foster children were scheduled to be adopted during hearings and celebrations in 21 counties. But many more still are looking for homes.
DSHS statistics show more than 8,300 children live in foster care in the state, with 1,600 legally free. That means their biological parents’ rights have been terminated and they are ready to be adopted.
The national event was started in 2000 by a coalition of child welfare organizations hoping to raise awareness of the thousands of foster children available for adoption.
Josie Albin and her husband, Jeff, officially adopted 19-month-old Victoria at Friday’s ceremony in Kennewick before a standing room-only courtroom of more than 100 people.
Victoria chose a beige bear wearing a bow tie from the judge’s bench. And though her brother, Isaac, was adopted a few years ago, he got a bear too.
Instead of keeping his, Isaac gave it to his sister. Her peachy cheeks beamed as her mother carried her and her two fuzzy friends back to their seat.
Victoria and Isaac share a special bond, said Josie Albin. Getting a foster child directly after he or she is born is rare, she said. But the Albins got a newborn boy and girl eight years apart, and were eventually able to adopt both.
The Albins had 15 minutes to decide if they wanted to take in Victoria, Josie Albin recalled. It was an easy decision.
“Of course we said yes,” she said. “We’ve been waiting so long for a girl. We wanted a girl and a boy.”
She was unable to have her own children so that made adoption more special.
“It’s a great feeling,” Jeff Albin said. “It’s such a huge relief and a blessing to know that child will be part of our family forever.”
Nash and Brooke Lamberson’s adoption of 7-year-old Serenity is considered a “kinship adoption,” because her biological mother is a family cousin.
“We’ve always envisioned adoption as part of our family plan,” Brooke Lamberson said. “This just presented itself in our life.”
The Lambersons have three biological children and another foster child, all of whom stood next to their new sister at the ceremony. They don’t rule out another adoption.
Even if people are not able to take in foster children, Brooke Lamberson said, they can still help out by donating to programs like Heart for the Fatherless and Beautiful Baggage, which gives kids luggage so they don’t have to carry their belongings in trash bags. Or they can volunteer to help at a foster parent resource room.
“Not everybody can be a foster parent, but everybody can help out,” she said.
Friday’s event also included stories from several families who have already adopted children. Sarah Overturf gave up a child for adoption when she was in college. On Friday, she talked about how she adopted Harlow, now 5 months old, with her husband, D.J.
“I never thought that I would be on the other side of adoption,” she said.
Josie Albin advised anyone who can take in foster children to do so.
“Not being able to have a child is really, really hard,” she said. “This is a blessing for us. A lot of parents who can have their own kids don’t understand what we go though.”