District Courts in Fargo and G.F. Will Open Saturday to Finalize Adoptions
November 17, 2004
BISMARCK, N.D. - On National Adoption Day, November 20, 2004, the district courts in Fargo and Grand Forks are holding special Saturday court sessions to finalize adoptions of 11 foster children. This is the second year that North Dakota courts have participated.
In Fargo, the National Adoption Day event will begin at 9 a.m., with a reception and a 30-minute press conference at 10:45 a.m. at the Cass County Courthouse Rotunda, 211 9th St. S. Featured speakers will include the Jeff and Jill Lindaas family and a 14-year-old youth whose brother is being adopted on Saturday. Judges presiding over the adoption finalizations include Judge John C. Irby and Judge Wade L. Webb. A balloon release will take place directly after the press conference.
In Grand Forks, the National Adoption Day event will begin at 9 a.m., at the Grand Forks County Courthouse at 124 S. 4th St. Judge Karen Braaten and Judge Richard Geiger will preside over the adoption finalizations. There will be a "Celebration of Thanksgiving" at 10 a.m., and Heather Drees and adoptive parents Charlie and Pam Olson will be the featured speakers. Organizers have also invited North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy, an adoptive parent, to attend. Other activities in Grand Forks will include a continental breakfast, quilt room, balloon release ceremony, and "Hall of Fame" awards.
Since its inception in 2000, National Adoption Day has grown from events in eight jurisdictions to events in over 100 communities across the country. Over 3,000 adoptions will be finalized across the United States on Saturday. Organizers credit the support of court staff, attorneys, agency professionals who work with foster children and adoptive parents, and adoptive families for making the events possible.
In 2003, 121 children with special needs were adopted in North Dakota. To date this year, the Adults Adopting Special Kids (AASK) program, which includes the N.D. Department of Human Services, Catholic Charities North Dakota, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, and the Village Family Service Center, has placed 86 former foster children for adoption. Foster parents adopt most of these children.
At any given time, AASK program agencies work with about 80 children and their families with an active goal of adoption. The AASK program is also involved in case planning for an additional 110 -120 foster children. Currently AASK is seeking families for about 13 children in the state who do not have identified adoptive families.
Contacts: FARGO EVENT: Leanne Johnson, AASK Program Director, (701) 271-3265; GRAND FORKS EVENT: Shirley Hoffarth, AASK Adoption Specialist, (701) 787-7726; BACKGROUND Julie Hoffman, Adoption Administrator, (701) 328-4805, or Heather Steffl, Public Information Officer, (701) 328-4933.