After more than 20 years as a foster parent and 12 successful adoptions, you could say Lori Graham and her husband, Pete, are old pros.
That didn’t make Saturday, National Adoption Day, any less special, as the Grahams added 13-month-old Isaac and Tristan to the family, which now includes 18 children.
“Each time it’s different children, different circumstances. It’s always exciting,” Graham said.
The day is celebrated in various Nebraska cities throughout November in order to bring awareness to the need for foster and adoptive families. Omaha, Fremont, Norfolk, Hastings, Grand Island, McCool Junction and Kearney all celebrated the day on Saturday, while Lincoln celebrated on Nov. 15.
On Saturday, 54 children in Douglas County were adopted. Throughout the state, 326 children have been adopted over the past 10 months, but 322 are still looking for their forever families, said Jennifer Potterf, children and family services administrator with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s important because we are providing children permanent and safe homes. Children grow best in families,” Potterf said.
Wearing shirts that said “I’m a ‘Graham’ cracker now,” the Graham children crowded into the courtroom to welcome their new official family members. The family’s children now range in age from 13 months to 32 years and include three sets of adopted twins. While Isaac and Tristan gurgled and pounded on the table, Judge Thomas Harmon noted there was nothing more illustrative of their happiness.
“It’s the start of a new path,” Graham said. “Those birth mothers and birth families don’t go away with that. The family itself, we’ll just go on like tomorrow is a new day.”
Jim and Lisa LaPierre of Papillion waited one more month to adopt 2-year-old Emelie, who has lived with the LaPierres since she was two days old, so they could make it official on National Adoption Day.
“It feels glorious. We knew this day was coming; we’re just glad she can have a stable home,” Jim LaPierre said. “It’s certainly a relief. We feel blessed to provide that home for her.”
Whether Isaac and Tristan will be the final additions to the Graham family is still up in the air.
“I’ve thought I was done several times before, but we’re going to leave the door open for now. When we get that call, we’ll know.”
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