The Montana adoption ceremony celebrates the gift of family

The state of Montana oversees about 350 adoptions a year, most of which take place in private, said Nikki Grossberg, administrator for the Department of Children and Family Services.

On Monday, several dozen people gathered in the state Capitol rotunda for the 24th annual celebration of the adoption ceremony and to hear success stories despite the struggles of two of those families who were adopted.

“This month gives us an opportunity to thank those who made it possible,” said Charlie Brereton, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, which oversees adoptions.

Grossberg said working in child protection and other duties can be challenging, “but adoption is one of the best parts of the job.”

Gov. Greg Gianforte said adoption offers children the gift of a family and a loving, stable home.

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“There is no greater gift,” he said, adding his office has designated November as adoption month.

“We hope this proclamation will encourage people to consider adoption and to support families who have chosen to open their hearts and homes to these children,” Gianforte said.

The governor’s proposed budget would give families a permanent $1,200 tax credit for each child ages zero through five. He said the high cost of adoption could be a barrier. And the budget includes a proposal to make adoption easier by offering a $5,000 tax credit for adopted children.

“Every child deserves a loving home,” said Gianforte. “We should make it easier for that to happen.”

Joseph Dunn, right, and his adopted son Caelum

Joseph Dunn (right) and his adopted son Caelum smile after speaking at an adoption ceremony at the state Capitol on Monday.

THOM BRIDGE, Independent record

The visit included speeches from two families working with DPHHS on adoptions.

Joseph Dunn of Montana City took the podium with son Caelum, 14, and said the short answer to the reason for his adoption was his desire to become a parent.

He said the challenges of adoption are real and children are often cared for, but you don’t know if they are cared for.

Caelum is the second child Dunn has adopted, which was recently completed.

He said they were fortunate to have a team of people, social workers, therapists, lawyers and specialists who helped make this happen.

He said they have a tremendous amount of support.

Caelum said his new family teaches him how to be a good and effective member of his community.

Helena’s Onawa Linden spoke of a family member who struggled with drugs and gave birth to a baby.

She said the family member grew up in total chaos and lived on the streets.

Linden and her husband had three girls and had made several attempts over the years to help the family member who showed up at their home pregnant before giving birth to a baby girl.

She said it was Christmas Eve when she told her husband, “We have a baby and I’m going to get it.”

Linden said she has had the child, named Scarlett, who is now 4 years old, since Labor Day weekend in 2019.

“She’s so spoiled, it’s incredible,” she said.

“I’ve learned so much through this process,” Linden said, adding that she wants people to show grace to people who can’t raise their children.

The celebration included two songs by St. Andrew’s Youth Choir, one of which was the song “Happy Adoption Day” by John McCutcheon:

“So cheers for you, three cheers for you

Let’s shout it out: ‘Hip, hip, hip, hooray!’ ‘Cause from a world so tattered and torn

They came to our house on this beautiful morning

And suddenly this family was born

Oh happy adoption day.”

Associate Editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.