CEDAR RAPIDS — Five children in Cedar Rapids officially joined new families Friday as their adoptions were finalized.
“It’s taken a long time,” Gabrielle Blauer said after answering questions from a juvenile judge. “It’s good,” she added with a sigh.
During the ceremony, she signed paperwork to change her last name to Blauer. Her adoptive parents, Scott and Dana Blauer, took foster care training in order to bring her into their Cedar Rapids home a year and a half ago. But she said she’s been a friend of the family and a neighbor for years.
Blauer said she was best friends with the family’s youngest daughter, Roxanne, who is also 16, and as her home life became more and more dysfunctional, she started spending more time there.
“It’s the greatest thing ever to have my best friend since very young come in and be my sister now legally and everything,” Roxanne Blauer said.
Dana Blauer said in one sense, nothing really changed with the adoption Friday.
“Gabby’s always been a part of our life anyway even as a small child. So it doesn’t feel any different,” she said.
But Kevin Slater, a volunteer who works with adoption groups like Iowa KidsNet, said it is different legally.
“Iowa KidsNet has done a wonderful job and they don’t stop here. They follow up to make sure families are doing a good job,” Slater said.
About 400,000 children are in foster care nationwide. On Friday, which was National Adoption Day, about 4,500 public events, eight of them in Iowa, were scheduled nationwide to unite children with new, permanent homes.
Organizers of Friday’s adoption event said by the time November, which is National Adoption Month, is over, between 60 and 70 Iowa children now in foster care will have new, adoptive homes.
In Iowa alone, about 6,100 children are staying with foster families. But 765 of those kids could be adopted by a qualified family right now because their biological parents have had parental rights terminated.