At 13, Nicole Avellaneda stood before Judge David Kurtz with her family. Friday was National Adoption Day in Snohomish County, and Nicole was there as three little girls in tutus and T-shirts officially became her sisters.
Yet before the Superior Court judge presided over Jen and Cid Avellaneda’s adoption of a trio of sisters — Mayah, 6, Alayna, 2, and 1-year-old Malaya — there was a special moment just for Nicole.
Everett attorney Deane Minor, who was handling the adoption case Friday, asked the judge if he remembered something: “On Nov. 14, 2008, the young lady with the big smile was adopted” in Kurtz’s courtroom, Minor said.
“Great to see you again,” said Kurtz, greeting Nicole — who like the rest of her multiracial clan wore a gray T-shirt with the slogan “Families Don’t Have to Match.”
The Avellaneda couple of Arlington, who have two grown children, were adopting the three little sisters they had cared for as foster parents. They were among nearly 20 families who on Friday adopted 28 children in all.
This was the 15th year that Washington’s courts and communities celebrated National Adoption Day. It was founded in the United States in 2000 by courts, child welfare agencies and businesses aimed at raising awareness of the thousands of foster children awaiting adoption.
In the past 14 years, according to Washington Courts spokesperson Lorrie Thompson, 2,446 children have been adopted statewide during Adoption Day events, which are public. This year, 22 counties around the state marked the day with events.
Here, Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis conducted adoption proceedings Friday as well as Kurtz. Sponsored by the Snohomish County Superior Court and the County Clerk’s Office, the celebration included a program with refreshments, fun activities for kids, and officials sharing thoughts on the day.
“There is no greater gift you can give than the gift of family,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said. He noted that some 1,900 children in Washington are legally available for adoption; 150 are in Snohomish County. Across the United States, 100,000 foster kids could be adopted, Somers said.
Not every child adopted Friday started life in this country.
When Amy and Jason Beagle, of Mountlake Terrace, adopted 6-year-old Evelyne Friday, it was the second time they had officially made her their daughter. The girl in the pink skirt was born in Kenya, where the Beagles spent seven years, 2010-2017, on a mission with the Church of Christ.
They’ve had Evelyne since she was two weeks old, and adopted her in Kenya. The process, though, was held up by government issues there. “It’s been a long road, with many months in Kenya,” said Amy Beagle, adding that they know others in the East African country unable to bring children here due to a moratorium there on foreign adoptions.
“Evelyne really has been your child already for many years,” Kurtz told the couple.
None of that was on Evelyne’s mind Friday. The Mountlake Terrace kindergartner was promised a wonderful outing — to see the hit Disney movie “Frozen II.”
At least one adoptee Friday was not a child. A 22-year-old, who asked not to share her name, was adopted by her stepfather. He married her mom when she was about 10. The couple, who live in another county, happily joined their daughter here on National Adoption Day.
“Nobody’s in trouble,” quipped Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell when he stepped up to speak during Friday’s program.
Cornell told families at the celebration that he grew up in Washington’s foster care system. “I spent a lot of tough years,” said Cornell, who was 23 when he was adopted for a second time. He’d been adopted as a teenager by a man who later died.
“You are never too old to have a happy childhood. If it weren’t for my forever family, I wouldn’t be here today,” Cornell told parents and kids gathered in the Jury Assembly Room. “I know you are going to have love and support.”
Jen and Cid Avellaneda’s oldest child, their son Jeriah, is 26. Their daughter Mariah King is 23. With those three little girls — Mayah, Alayna and Malaya — they are starting over as busy, busy parents.
A house filled with children is just fine with Jen Avellaneda.
“It’s the laughter,” she said, “just the immense joy.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.