ST. GEORGE — Staheli Family Farm came alive for the 10th annual “Celebrating Families Through Adoption” event to honor those who have adopted a child from foster care.

Attendees enjoy pizza during Adoption Celebration that is held at Staheli Family Farm on Washington Fields Road in Washington City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Ben Ashcraft, St. George News

“We do not need to know the beginning of a child’s story to change the ending,” Fi Neewood, a child therapist and author, once said.

That sentiment seems to ring true for foster parents and those who adopt children from the foster care system, who open their homes to about 2,700 of Utah’s most vulnerable citizens. They provide stability and love that many of these children have only dreamed of.

Last week, an afternoon of fun and festivities was held at Staheli Family Farm, in Washington City, for these families to gather and celebrate in honor of their efforts.

Ben Ashcraft, southwest region representative for Utah Foster Care, told St. George News the event hosted a myriad of activities to be enjoyed by both young and old alike, including a free raffle, door prizes, refreshments and a pizza dinner that was hosted by the Seint Foundations.

In addition to celebrating adoptive families, the event also served as a platform to provide information relating to adoption and foster care, with guest speakers and tables set up by several agencies and organizations with information on the resources that are available locally to assist in the union of families, Ashcraft said.

One such family adopted “two beautiful children” from the foster care system, said one of the parents, who asked to be referred to as Alegra.

“We are so grateful to grow our family through adoption,” she said.

The event also served to highlight the many ways in which to adopt a child. And the various resources that are out there for adoptive families — particularly in St. George —  where there is so much community support for adoption.

Moreover, the celebration highlighted the efforts of the Family Support Center, which has been a huge resource for the family, Alegra said.

Attendees also learned about the mission behind the Angels Landing program that is dedicated to supporting children who have aged out of foster care, or those who were adopted that need post-adoption support.

Door and raffle prizes are on display during Adoption Celebration that is held at Staheli Family Farm on Washington Fields Road in Washington City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Ben Ashcraft, St. George News

She closed by saying, “I was honored to share our adoption story at Staheli Farm this year and I shared how my father was also adopted. Our family has been touched by adoption.”

For Ashcraft, who has spearheaded the celebration event for a decade, there are times when he looks at all of the work that goes into putting on such an event, “and wonder if it makes a difference.”

That is when he is reminded of how much the event means to the families and the children that attend and join in celebration together each year, how much they look forward to it and how much such an event helps to create an adoption community.

“It’s just so rewarding to see and hear about people’s experiences and the joy on those children’s faces,” Ashcraft said. “It’s priceless.”

The celebratory contributors

The event could not have happened without the collaborative effort of multiple organizations, including Utah Foster Care, a private, nonprofit organization that finds and trains families to provide secure, loving homes for children in foster care throughout the state. It works with other organizations to form a powerful front in the ongoing effort to find permanent homes for foster children who cannot be reunited with their original families.

Seint Foundations was integral in making the festivities even more enjoyable by providing food for those in attendance. The beauty company formed the foundation to highlight the beauty of the foster care community by promoting awareness about foster care and positively impacting former foster youth. The group also supports two of its own non-profit programs — Love is Never Wasted and Angels Landing Foundation. 

The Family Support Center of Washington County has been an important resource for many families, as mentioned by adoptive mother, Alegra.  The organization’s strong community-centered, family-focused approach to supporting the needs of children and families has made the non-profit a go-to for families in need of crisis and respite care, in addition to other services through funding from federal grants and the generosity of private groups and individuals.

Premier Adoption also hosted a booth with information for anyone interested in the adoption process, as well as door prizes that were displayed during the event. The agency is a nonprofit organization that provides full services to both birth families and adopting families, including education, homes study, post placement supervision and other resources for adoptive families.

For more information call telephone 877 505-5437 or visit the Utah Foster Care website here.

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