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Judges finalize adoptions during special Saturday court session

November 22, 2003

Today was a special day for 11 North Dakota families - so special that the East Central Judicial District Court in Fargo opened for business on a Saturday. Judges John C. Irby and Wade L. Webb joined court employees, families, adoption workers, attorneys, and local child welfare officials to finalize the adoptions of 16 children ranging in age from 8 months to 11 years. All of the children are former foster children.

The special court session marked the first time North Dakota has participated in National Adoption Day, which is celebrated with finalization hearings in communities across the country. Advocates expect about 3,000 adoptions to be finalized in the United States on this special day.

"We have always felt comfortable that this day would come. The adoptions formalize something that has been in our hearts for a long time," said Todd and Teresa Kaste of Fargo, N.D., who were joined by over 20 family members at the adoption of Terra,10, Tanner, 5, and Tate, 18 months. The Kaste's said they have always been committed to the children, whom they cared for as foster parents.

Judge Irby thanked his colleague Judge Webb, as well as the court clerks, court reporter, deputies, and custodial staff who volunteered their time during the special morning court session.

"When the N.D. Department of Human Services contacted the court system and invited us to be involved in National Adoption Day, we were pleased to be able to participate. It has been a very positive experience," Irby said.

State and local child welfare officials joining the celebration included Julie Hoffman, adoption administrator for the N.D. Department of Human Services, Nancy McKenzie, director of Southeast Human Service Center, and Kathy Hogan, director of Cass County Social Services.

Between January and October 2003, the Adults Adopting Special Kids (AASK) program, which involves the human services department, Catholic Charities North Dakota, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, and the Village Family Service Center, has placed 95 former foster children for adoption. Foster parents adopted many of these children.

To learn about foster parenting, contact Cass County Social Services at 701-241-5765, or PATH at 701-280-9545. For adoption information, contact AASK at 701-235-4457, or 877-551-6054.


Julie Hoffman, Department of Human Services, Adoption Administrator, (701) 328-4805, sohofj@nd.gov
Leanne Johnson, AASK Program Director, (701) 271-3265, ljohnson@lssnd.org
Greg Wallace, Assistant State Court Administrator for Trial Courts, N.D. Supreme Court, (701) 328-4269, or
Heather Steffl, N.D. Department of Human Services, (701) 328-4933


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