EVERETT — Eric and Eileen Savoy met their oldest son about two years ago. They just didn't know he was theirs.
The 18-month-old boy needed a safe home. His birth mother loved him, but she couldn't keep him.
The Savoys were newly certified foster parents without any children of their own. They took Joshua and his older half-sister into their Everett-area home.
They vowed to protect the children and care for them as long as they were needed.
They knew the children could be reunited with the parents or relatives and leave someday. They were there to make that easier for the kids if the time came.
“When we opened our home, we never thought of them as temporary children. We chose to think of them as part of our family,” Eileen Savoy said.
On Friday, the Savoys adopted Joshua, now 4, in a special ceremony at the Snohomish County Courthouse.
“Now he's part of our family, officially,” Eric Savoy said.
Nearly 30 children were adopted in Snohomish County as part of National Adoption Day.
The national event was started in 2000 by a coalition of child welfare agencies and businesses that wanted to raise awareness about the thousands of foster children waiting for new families.
More than 175 children around the state were scheduled to be adopted Friday as part of Washington's fifth annual celebration. More than 500 foster children have found new homes during the past four events.
The state saw a record number of foster-child adoptions during the 2009 fiscal year, state officials said. Between July 2008 and June, families adopted 1,701 foster children.
“Foster children are in our care and we owe them a special responsibility. We know finding permanent, loving homes for these children can save them years of stress, uncertainty and personal struggles,” said retired state Justice Bobbe Bridge, who co-leads the Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care.
As of January, there were nearly 10,000 children living in foster care in Washington. About 1,750 of those youngsters were available for adoption.
If someone is interested in becoming a foster parent, they should reach out to other foster families for more information about the challenges and joys of bringing children into their home, Eric Savoy said.
“If you have the time and urge to provide a safe and loving environment, it's all worth it,” he said.
Typically adoption hearings are held behind closed doors. On Friday, courtrooms were open to the public to provide a glimpse of parents promising to care for children who may not look like them but who are loved by them all the same.
“This is the best day of the year for me. I love National Adoption Day,” Everett attorney Deane Minor said.
There were plenty of giggles and smiles and a few happy tears.
Joshua was dressed up for his big day.
Wearing his shiny blue-and-pink striped tie was one of his favorite parts of the day. Having the same color balloon as his little brother Michael was pretty neat, too.
About 9 months after Joshua and his sister came to live with the Savoys, Eileen gave birth to their youngest son. Joshua's sister eventually left their home and was reunited with her mother.
Adopted children are doubly loved, Eileen Savoy said.
Joshua's mom might not be able to care for him, but she loves him and he knows he is loved by his “tummy mother.”
“We love him, too, and he knows it,” she said.
If Joshua was nervous in front of the judge, he didn't let on. He sprawled out on the counter in front of Superior Court Judge George Bowden's bench, propped his head on his hands and watched his parents take an oath to care for him.
He was a little concerned after the judge told the kids in the courtroom part of being a family meant doing chores and homework.
Joshua was all business when Bowden called him up allowed him to bang the gavel three times to make things official.
Before Friday, Minor asked Joshua if he knew he was going to become a Savoy soon.
“Silly, I'm already a Savoy,” the boy said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, email@example.com.