HELENA — November is National Adoption Month, and Montana leaders and families gathered in Helena Tuesday to talk about the value of adoption.
Leaders held the 25th annual adoption celebration in the State Capitol rotunda, sponsored by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Catholic Social Services of Montana and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.
Adoptive families shared their stories about the challenges and the rewards of going through the adoption process.
“Each and every one of us arrived here today from a different set of circumstances, and each of us is living a completely unique story, but I think it's safe to say we're here today to celebrate the gift of adoption with hearts fueled by love,” said Dani Erdahl, who has adopted multiple kids with her husband.
The St. Andrew School youth choir performed two songs during the celebration, including one titled “Happy Adoption Day.”
Bradley Bragg says he and his wife Alicia had long been interested in adoption because they knew they wouldn’t be able to have biological children. He’s a captain with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and she’s a Montana Highway Patrol trooper. They say, working in law enforcement, they’ve seen firsthand the number of kids in the state in need of a loving home, so they reached out to DPHHS’ Child and Family Services Division about becoming foster parents.
“Last year, we got a chance to meet Zendell and bring her into our home – and then give Alicia the Mother's Day gift she always wanted,” Bradley Bragg said.
The Braggs officially adopted Zendell, now 14, this June.
“Anytime you go from no kids to a teenage daughter, you're going to have a lot of growing pains – for both the kid and for us,” said Bradley Bragg. “But we've been able to kind of work through everything and build that trust as a family. Getting to see her growth every day – and the growth that everybody around us sees, too – is what really makes it worthwhile.”
Gov. Greg Gianforte said Tuesday that Montana has been able to reduce the number of kids in its foster care program, and he credited that in large part to more being adopted.
“That’s a win we can all celebrate,” he said.
During this year’s legislative session, Montana lawmakers approved Gianforte’s proposal for an adoption tax credit. Families will be entitled to a credit of $5,000 for adopting a child, and $7,500 if the child was in the foster care system.
Bradley Bragg encourages anyone considering adoption to take a closer look.
“If your heart's telling you that you should be looking at going through the adoption process, this is an awesome opportunity to not only change your lives, but change your child's life and watch them grow and continue to build as the person that they can be with that great home,” he said.