The Superior Court of Santa Cruz County had some special guests for “Adoption Day” this year. Risa Schwartz, a teacher at Mar Vista Elementary School, took her second grade class to the big event to witness a classmate’s adoption. Lani and Scott Almand adopted biological siblings Weston, 7, and Winter, 5. The ceremony included the signing of the appropriate legal documents, a verbal pledge from the Almands to the children, and a time for family photos.

The field trip was approved by Principal Richard Determan and Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez. “I think it’s great for the students to see the adoption process themselves to know that families are made in different ways,” Schwartz said. “It’s also a civics lesson at the same time in the courtroom. The kids were all smiles outside the courtroom. “I’m excited because we are going to stay with our family forever. Tonight at home we are going to have a party to celebrate our adoption,” Winter said.

The Almands have fostered for many years. Weston and Winter are the latest of six children the couple have adopted. Four of those kids are currently living at their home. Two children have grown up and moved out on their own. When the Almands adopted twins in 2012 they also utilized the county’s adoption day to add excitement to the festivities. They had such a good time that the family decided to share their joy with the community again.

National Adoption Day began in 2000 and has facilitated over 40,000 adoptions from foster care. National Adoption Month increases national awareness to the need of permanent placement homes for children who are in foster care, especially teens. The Children’s Bureau, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Child Welfare Information Gateway partner together to spread the word about programs, events, and activities annually during November.