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Foster kids find Whidbey families in time for holidays
Dressed up in little suits and hair tied with fancy ribbons, three children were welcomed into their forever families last week as the county celebrated National Adoption Day.
Coupeville resident Charmaine Benton finalized her adoption of Alex Jones, 9, and Arron Jones, 7. The two boys had been living with Benton for four and a half years as foster children, and Benton said she was excited to finally complete the process.
Benton has two biological children, but wanted to wait until they were grown before she adopted.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.
Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock presided over the boys’ adoption. Though such proceedings are usually private, the day’s events were open to the public as part of the Adoption Day celebration on Nov. 19.
“We’re encouraging others to follow the lead of these fine folks here today,” Hancock said.
Four-year-old Roni Jack was adopted by Monte and Debi Hassler.
“This is going to be a happy day to increase your family more than you have already,” presiding Judge Vickie Churchill said. “Sometimes I wonder who’s blessed most, you or the children.”
Beth Nastali of Coupeville spoke at the ceremony about the importance of staying in touch with the kids’ biological relatives if possible. Nastali has adopted six children, and her journey began in the Island County Courthouse 23 years ago. Though Nastali wasn’t adopting on Friday, she said she tries to attend the event every year with her kids.
The celebration closed with the children and their families gathering for cake and photos.
Currently there are more than 9,100 children in foster care in Washington state and more than 1,300 are eligible for adoption. National Adoption Day was established in 2000 by a coalition of national child welfare organizations in an effort to raise awareness of the number of kids who are in need of permanent homes. In 2005, the event was recognized statewide and in the past five years more than 750 kids have been adopted.