National Adoption Day at the Justice Center - – Rockford’s News Leader

National Adoption Day at the Justice Center


About 321 children have been adopted in Winnebago County over the past 12 years on National Adoption Day. 21 families in the county added an addition to their lives at this year's celebration.  
"It was a little slippery, but we made it and we weren't going to miss it," Freeport Father, Andrew Winter said.

The snow wouldn't stop Winter's family from attending the event.

"This is one of the happiest things that happens in the courthouse. Its a combination of Christmas and birthdays and christenings all rolled into one," 17th Circuit Judge Joe McGraw said.

McGraw and other 17th circuit court judges finalized adoptions this weekend.  This is something the court does every year, helping people like Andrew and Stephanie Winter.  They've been waiting more than two years to adopt their three kids.

"It just felt like we were waiting so long especially for the last one," Andrew Winter said.

At first the Winters were foster parents for the three, Tilisha, Michael, and the youngest, Elyza.  Then they grew into a family.

"We are so so thrilled to be able to have all 3 kids," Stephanie Winter said.  "We love them so much."

Judge McGraw said the adoption process is different for everyone, but it always involves a thorough check of the child's future home.

"They would need to be approved by one of the social service agency typically DCFS," McGraw said.  "They would do a home study and evaluate all aspects of the home environment."

Then the parents and kids connect and this weekend was a celebration of that love.

"It is long process, but don't give up," Stephanie Winter said.  "There are a lot of emotional roller coasters that you'll ride on, but its all worth it in the end." 

McGraw said they are the only circuit in the state to participate in National Adoption Day, but they are doing the process 5 days awake year round, but this day is celebratory.  

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