Michael and Ray Chavor had one word to describe the way they felt Thursday afternoon during a National Adoption Day event at Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court: Relief.
“It’s been a long time waiting,” said Michael, as he held 2-year-old Nellie in his arms.
“She’s officially ours,” Ray said, smiling.
This was the 10th year Thurston County has celebrated National Adoption Day.
The goal of the event, observed in 24 counties across the state, was to celebrate adoption, while also bringing attention to foster children in the state who are waiting to be adopted into new families. Right now, more than 8,600 children live in foster care in the state, and more than 1,700 are legally free, which means their biological parents’ rights have been terminated by courts, according to a news release from Washington State Courts.
Before the ceremony, families signed paperwork to finalize adoptions, posed for photographs and took an oath to love and care for their children, as if they were of their own flesh and blood.
“I feel stunned and really excited,” said Casey Lalonde, of Olympia. She and her husband Thomas adopted 23-month-old Kaiden.
They’ve known him since he was about four months old, and took custody when he was about six months old.
Lalonde said the process was filled with ups and downs.
“The time until he was legally free was difficult,” she said.
The Chavors, who live in Seattle, say it wasn’t an easy process for them, either.
“We kind of got lost in social work hell,” Ray said.
They’ve had custody of Nellie since she was about five months old.
And while they’ve always considered themselves her parents, having that adoption certificate made a big difference. There’s more security, they said.
“We’re hoping she can have a really good life,” Michael said. “We want her to grow up and be well adjusted.”
Both couples said adoption was worth the effort. Thomas Lalonde said his advice for people is to just do it.
“There’s always somebody who’s going to need a home,” he said.