ST. GEORGE – Addressing a gathering in downtown St. George Saturday, Mayor Jon Pike declared Nov. 14 to be “National Adoption Day” in the City of St. George.
Pike’s declaration was part of the annual “Celebrating Families Through Adoption” event, which not only celebrated adoptive families but also educated and informed attendees about adoption, foster care, and the agencies and resources available locally to assist in the union of families.
The month of November is national “Adoption Awareness Month,” and this year marked the fifth annual “Celebrating Families Through Adoption” event.
“It’s just exciting to see the support that we have from our community and the services that our community can provide,” Tracie Tice, co-founder of the event, said. “It’s good for those who have adopted in the community to know where their resources are. We just really wanted to share that with people and also to celebrate them.”
Tice works for Premier Adoption, an agency licensed for Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The agency averages 40 adoptions per year, Tice said.
Families that have been touched by adoption were invited to come have fun during the event and enjoy activities like a rock climbing wall, bounce houses, face painting and booths provided by local organizations and companies. Children also enjoyed receiving candy, playing games and hopping inside a real firetruck.
“The day is for the children,” Tice said. “So we wanted to be able to give some really awesome prizes to the parents.”
Raffle prizes given away at the event included bed and breakfast stays, facials, massages, jewelry, Dixie Direct cards, Costco gift cards and more.
“Everybody is here on a volunteer basis; nobody’s getting paid,” Kori McGregor, program coordinator of West Sands Adoptions, said.
“All of these businesses have volunteered their time, provided all of their games and prizes,” McGregor added. “Everything we gave away – those were all donations that we received from our local community businesses.
The West Sands Adoptions organization works with international children who are in need of adoptive families. The children are from Ethiopia, China and Taiwan.
West Sands provides home studies in Utah and Nevada but works across the country in any state and even helps U.S. citizens living abroad place children with their new forever families.
“Each international country has their own process and their own program,” McGregor said. “The quality of care that the children in other countries get is not as good as it is in the U.S. It’s just an opportunity to give a child in need a home.”
During the celebration, local adoptive parents Kimberli and Tyler Norton won 50 percent off of their adoption finalization fees through one of the raffles offered at the event. The young family adopted their first child about three years ago and is currently in the process of adopting Dylan, who is only a few months old.
Adoption fees generally range from $1,000-$2,000 for legal assistance, Tyler Norton said. The family has had Dylan since June 16, the day after he was born.
“Adoption means a lot, since that’s how we got our family,” Kimberli Norton said. “For some reason, growing up I always wanted to be able to adopt, and that’s just how it worked out for our family. We have two wonderful kids because of it, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”
Within Washington county alone there are about 50 families currently fostering, and there are about 125 families in the Southwest region, Ben Ashcraft, Southwest Region area representative for the Utah Foster Care Foundation, said.
“We have about double the number of children who need homes than we have parents for,” Ashcraft said. “Oftentimes they’re in those homes while they’re awaiting to try to reunify them with their families.”
Ashcraft said the ultimate goal is to reunify children with their original families, because that is where they really want to be.
“In the event that they aren’t able to reunify, that’s when we look for these foster homes to be willing to be adoptive homes for those children so they can have ongoing family support,” Ashcraft said.
With the seal of the City of St. George and Mayor Pike’s signature on a proclamation, locals have a new holiday to celebrate. Pike read the signed and sealed proclamation aloud during the event, which was met by cheers from the listening crowd.
“National Adoption Awareness Month is a time for adoptees, adoptive parents, professionals and advocates to celebrate adoption and remind others that many children are still waiting for a permanent, loving family of their own,” Pike said.
- Premier Adoption Agency | 435-214-4499 | 1240 E. 100 South Suite 1, St. George | premieradoption.org
- Utah Foster Care | 435-656-8065 | 491 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 2B, St. George | utahfostercare.org
- West Sands Adoptions | 435-986-1617 | 1240 E. 100 South, Suite 1, St. George | westsandsadoption.org
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