Local families celebrate National Adoption Day

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 10:33 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - More than a dozen area children were officially adopted into their forever homes Saturday, as the 17th Circuit Court celebrates National Adoption Day.

Communities across the nation gathered in courthouses to welcome thousands of children into loving families. In Winnebago County, at least 15 children were officially welcomed into local hearts and homes. Honorable Francis M. Martinez says this is at least his 8th time finalizing adoptions for families in the area.

“My job is filled with joyous occasions. It is. This is one of those joyous occasions,” Martinez says. “Judge Buhl and I get to make forever families. And we are extremely proud to do so, we’re honored to do so.”

Five years ago, Sharon and Roger Kunz welcomed a then two-year-old Zayla into their home as her foster parents. Now at seven-years-old, Zayla is officially where she was always meant to be. Sharon met Zayla through her home daycare, a business she still runs today. Months after meeting her, Sharon received a call that would change her life. Agreeing to become foster parents, Sharon and Roger got their certifications and took Zayla and her older brother in. They now foster three children.

“What made me decide? Because I could not let her go somewhere else no more. You grow attached,” Roger says. “You don’t want them to leave after you’re all they know. It’s not fair to them, it’s not fair to you.”

Sharon shares that in school Zayla previously used her birth certificate name, the last name of which, Zayla did not believe was correct. Now that Zayla’s last name is Kunz, Sharon says, it’s officially right.

“I’m glad it’s over. We’re happy to have this so we can move forward. No more looking back.” Sharon says. “She’s, my forever.”

Amber Anderson, the biological daughter of Sharon and Roger, is inspired by her parents’ decision. Early next year, she plans to adopt Zayla’s older brother and officially welcome him into the family as an Anderson.

“It’s a great thing, you know, to adopt and even foster, even if you can’t provide adoption, I definitely encourage people to get out there and foster, even because just the smallest things can make a huge difference in a kids life,” Anderson says.

Being placed in the foster system can be traumatic for young children. Sharon and Roger recommend using free trauma response resources. Places like Brightpoint Rockford Crisis Nursery provide therapy services to adoptive families so the children can thrive in the new chapter of their lives.

More than 15,000 children have been adopted in Illinois over the past decade, according to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services. If you, or someone you know, are interested in adopting, you can register online at DCFS’ website here.