The purpose behind Friday’s National Adoption Day celebration in Lewis County Superior Court was concisely stated on T-shirts worn by nearly a dozen friends and members of the Mathews family: “Families are made with love, not DNA.”
Clifton and Natalia Mathews walk the walk, too. Two boys were legally adopted into their family during Friday’s event, where four families signed adoption paperwork with Judge James Lawler before receiving presents and pizza.
Washington has about 5,500 children in foster programs, and around 1,000 who are waiting to be adopted. Across the United States, that number is 113,000, according to a news release on Friday’s event. Every year, the release stated, about 20,000 kids will age out of the program without ever having joined a permanent family.
In the Southwest Washington region, there are more than
230 kids who have permanently lost their parents.
National Adoption Day is meant to encourage more adoptions and celebrate the hard work families must navigate in the process.
In many cases, the paperwork is simply “formalizing what’s been reality” for most of the children’s lives, said Mareen Bartlet, an adoption lawyer from Centralia.
That’s certainly true for William and Rachel Harris, whose grandson, Allen, legally became their son on Friday, joining siblings Whitney, Andee, Bricen, Tison and Logan.
The night Allen was born, William Harris recalled not knowing where he was until a Child Protective Services worker helped locate the baby and bring him into the hospital. William Harris compared Allen to baby Moses.
“This child is a miracle,” he said. “It’s probably the hardest thing we’ve ever been (through), but it’s a blessing.”
Friday’s event was the first National Adoption Day inside the Lewis County Law and Justice Center since 2019, according to Assistant Court Administrator Paula Willey.
“I am pleased that every one of you were able to be here to be part of this,” Willey said. “I’m happy every one of these families are here doing this. Your lives are forever changed. Your family has gotten bigger.”
Willey thanked the following organizations for helping put on Friday’s event: Raintree Nursery, the Veterans Memorial Museum, Guardian Friends, Gem Willey, the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the Lewis County Juvenile Department.
For more information on the nationwide event, visit www.nationaladoptionday.org.
Those interested in foster parenting in Lewis County should contact Elaine Peet from the Division of Licensing Resources at 360-807-7107.