On Friday, November 13, the city hosted its 11th Annual “Denver Adoption Day” at the Golden Triangle’s Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse, by uniting 50 children with a total of 32 families. (That’s four more children than the event hosted last year.) The celebration kicked off with a packed introductory ceremony before the newly anointed families adjourned to various courtrooms for their adoptions hearings.

Several speakers welcomed the guests, including Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice, herself an adoptive mother of a now 29-year-old daughter from India. Rice spoke warmly about her experience and the personally rewarding event Denver Adoption Day has become. “I wouldn’t miss a chance to be able to come down and talk to you all and just express from the bottom of my heart how wonderful the [adoption] decision will be for you,” she told the crowd. “You’ll very soon [realize] that the idea of this being an ‘adopted’ child will leave you. This will just be your child.”

Each year, more than 100,000 children in the United States wait in foster care to be adopted. It takes four years, on average, for these children to be placed in homes, but about 23,000 of these kids “age out” of the system before they ever find a loving family. In 2000, National Adoption Day was created by a coalition of partners nationwide to bring awareness to the crucial need for adoptive families in the U.S. Since then, more than 54,000 children nationwide have been adopted from the foster care system. This year’s National Adoption Day is Saturday, November 21, and adoption activists are hoping to top last year’s participation of more than 400 cities across the country.

As an adoptee—my parents in Pennsylvania adopted me from Korea when I was four months old—I’ve always been connected to the emotional component of uniting children with new families. I’ll never forget the time my father looked at me across the dinner table when I was a teenager and echoed the words of Chief Rice: “Sometimes I look at you and forget that you’re adopted,” he said. “You’re just Lucy, my daughter.” I laughed it off at the time; my adoptive parents are white, so I was always obviously adopted. It wasn’t until years later that I understood the importance of my father’s statement. Now I realize it was, and is, his way of telling me he loves me and that I am his family. That’s all any adoptive family sees—and it’s all any kid could ask for.

This sense of newfound familial joy was evident throughout the hearings on Friday. (The hearings are the formalized legal confirmation of each adoption.) During one of them, the presiding judge asked two adoptive mothers, who’d recently married, why it was in the best interest for their daughter, Sophia, to be placed with them. “Because we’re good for her and we love her,” one of the moms said. “She’s family.” The judge smiled. “Well, I’m not sure I need a better answer than that.”

For more information about local adoption visit Denver Human Services: Stand Up for Me.