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Families and agency staff members gather to celebrate adoptions

November 13, 2003

Bismarck, N.D. - As the season of giving approaches, some children and families will be gathering with adoption professionals on November 19, 2003 in Bismarck to celebrate the gift of love and family. The adoption celebration, which will be held in the Brynhild Haugland Room of the capitol from 2 to 4 p.m., is also intended to remind people that many children now in the care of North Dakota agencies are waiting for families and homes.

"This gives us an opportunity to honor adoptive families and individuals who serve children in North Dakota, and it helps us raise awareness of adoption and the children who are waiting to join families," said Carol K. Olson, executive director of the N.D. Department of Human Services.

Adoption administrator Julie Hoffman said organizers will present the 2003 Special Needs Adoptive Family of the Year award and the Adoption Triad award, which recognizes families involved in an open adoption situation. During the program that begins at 2:30 p.m., adoption advocates will also be honored.

In 2002, 328 adoptions were completed in North Dakota. Of these, 79 were adoptions of children with special needs, 183 were adoptions by stepparents, 53 were adoptions of healthy infants, and 13 involved foreign-born children. The adoption celebration focuses mainly on children, many former wards of the state, adopted through the Adults Adopting Special Kids (AASK) program, their families, and the agency professionals who made it possible for these children to have love, safety, and permanency in their lives.

Many children determined to have a "special need" for placement are former foster children who have disabilities, are part of a sibling group being placed together, are children older than age seven or are of an ethnic minority. Foster families adopt about 90 percent of the children with special needs who are adopted each year in North Dakota.

Six private child-placing agencies are licensed in North Dakota to facilitate the adoption of infants, foreign-born children, children who are being adopted by relative caregivers, and children who have special needs. They include the Adults Adopting Special Kids Program (AASK) - a collaboration involving DHS, Lutheran Social Services (LSS), the Village Family Service Center, and Catholic Charities North Dakota; the Adoption Option - a collaboration involving LSS and the Village; Catholic Charities North Dakota; Christian Family Life Services; and Latter Day Saints Family Services.


Julie Hoffman, Department of Human Services, Adoption Administrator, (701) 328-4805, or
Heather Steffl, N.D. Department of Human Services, (701) 328-4933


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