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Adoption celebration to honor families, children and advocates

November 21, 2002

Bismarck, N.D. - Adoptive families, advocates, and children still waiting to be adopted will be honored today, November 21, at 4 p.m. at an adoption awareness month celebration hosted at the Ramada Plaza Suites and Convention Center, Fargo, N.D.

"Today's event is about celebrating successes. More children from the foster care system in North Dakota are finding permanent homes and families through adoption. While we have reasons to be joyful, too many children are waiting for permanency and love, including the more than twenty waiting children who will be featured in the 'calling out' ceremony this afternoon," said Carol K. Olson, Executive Director of the Department of Human Services.

Terri Falconi Bothwell of Minot, N.D., and Robert and Linda Dearinger of Walhalla, N.D., are being honored with the Special Needs Adoptive Family of the Year Award for excelling in providing permanence, care and love to children with special needs.

The unique Adoption Triad Award, which honors open adoptions, is being presented to adoptive parents Clark and Cheryl Dietz of Fargo, N.D., and birth parents Erica, Barton, Amy and Charlie. These adoptive parents and birth parents have maintained an ongoing relationship related to their children who were placed for adoption as infants.

Adoption Advocate Awards will be presented to Carol Birkeland, Catholic Family Service of Minot; Frank Myrick, Spirit Lake Nation, Fort Totten, N.D.; Del Hager, University of North Dakota Children and Family Services Training Center, Grand Forks, N.D.; and Sally Tobin, Southeast Human Service Center, Fargo, N.D. The following persons will also be honored for their selfless advocacy and support of families and birth parents involved in adoption: Lynn N. Thompson and the Maurice and Joy McCormick family of Fargo, N.D.

During the 2002 state fiscal year, 363 children were adopted in North Dakota. Of those children, 197 were adopted by stepparents, 97 were children with special needs, 16 were foreign-born, and 53 were infants.

Adoption services in North Dakota are provided by six private child-placing entities, which are licensed by the state's Department of Human Services (DHS). They include the Adults Adopting Special Kids Program (AASK) - a collaboration involving DHS, Lutheran Social Services (LSS), the Village Family Service Center, and Catholic Family Service; the Adoption Option - a collaboration involving LSS and the Village; Catholic Family Service; Christian Family Life Services; New Horizons Foreign Adoption Services; and Latter Day Saints Family Services.


Heather Steffl, Public Information Specialist, (701) 328-4933


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