The Montoyas, the Peñas and Judge Ralph D. Shamas join the celebration to commemorate National Adoption Day, which is the kick off for National Adoption Awareness Month. (Jessica Palmer Photo)
November marks National Adoption Awareness Month. The Children Youth and Family Department had a reason to celebrate, Friday, because Rita and Ernie Montoya adopted 2-year-old Isaiah on Nov. 2, National Adoption Day.
Foster parents often adopt the children that come into their care. Trina Brown, placement social worker with CYFD, said, “The Montoyas are foster parents. The foster family falls in love with their children.”
This is the 17th successful adoption for CYFD this year. The Montoya family dressed in their finest clothes to welcome young Isaiah into their home, but Isaiah is growing up fast. He will be 3 in December. Maria and Joseph Peña also joined in the fun, having adopted four-year-old Jacob earlier this year
The Montoyas have adopted a total of nine children. Their family numbers 14 children whose ages range from in their 40s to the youngest, Isaiah, 2. They also are grandparents, and their youngest grandchild is about the same age as their newest addition.
Many found their way into the Montoya household early in life. Katherine Montoya came in to their care at the age of 3 months. She is now 13.
Each adoption represents happy endings in difficult cases. “The children come to CYFD because of neglect and abuse. We work intensively with the family, but if the family cannot work the program, then the children go up for adoption,” said Brown.
Judge Ralph D. Sha-mas presides over adoptions. “It is the happiest thing I do in District Court,” said Shamas as he joined the celebration.
Judge Charles Currier works with the families to assist in the process of reunification.
“Reunification remains our primary goal. Reunification is another happy ending,” said Renee Fitts, foster and adoptive parent recruiter.
While CYFD can commemorate 17 adoptions in Chaves County in 2012; they still have another 26 children who are free for adoption.
With 94 kids in foster care, the need for both adoptive parents and foster parents is great. “We need foster parents,” Brown said.
Fitts explained the licensing process for fostering and adoption, which is both extensive and intensive. The process lasts from 4-6 months. It includes a background check, along with home checks—not only to ensure the residence is prepared to handle another child, but also to observe the family dynamics. The families will go through training to handle the new children.
Potential foster and adoptive families have to meet certain requirements. “They must be over 18. They can be single or married. … They have to be a legal resident of New Mexico and the United States,” Fitts said.
For more information, contact Renee Fitts at CYFD, at 624-6071.