“I don’t want to be mean, but I want to go to the store without you,” 7-year-old Catalina told her mother, Blythe Tipton, in the lobby of the Juvenile Justice Center in Albuquerque.
Catalina wanted to pick out a surprise Mother’s Day gift for Tipton. She already had an idea.
“Flowers,” she whispered out of earshot of her mom. “I might get two.”
It will be an extra-special Mother’s Day for the pair. It’s Tipton’s first Mother’s Day following Catalina’s adoption Friday morning – an event they’re planning to celebrate with a party this weekend.
It took Tipton and her husband, Ben Tipton, about a year to get to this day. The family came out in force, wearing matching lavender outfits to the court venue. Ben Tipton carried three bouquets of flowers; Blythe Tipton, two stuffed animals; and Catalina, a handmade quilt covered in “raining dogs.”
Catalina was one of 10 children who were adopted on Friday at Spring Adoption Day at the Children’s Court Division of the 2nd Judicial District Court of New Mexico. On the day, regular dockets are set aside to finalize adoptions. There were cookies, smiles and tears as foster parents, step parents, grandparents and more came to support their adoptees.
“There’s nothing more special than opening your hearts and homes to these children,” said Chief Judge Marie Ward, who said they scheduled the day before Mother’s and Father’s day to make the holidays “extra-special.”
Samantha and Dominic Fritsch didn’t know they would be able to officially adopt their foster son, Kaiden, 11, until two weeks ago. It’s been six years since they first took Kaiden in as a foster child, and almost three since he’s lived with them full time.
“It’s exciting. I feel relieved,” Samantha Fritsch said.
“I’m glad it’s over and we can make it official,” Dominic Fritsch added.
The pair beamed with excitement. During the adoption process, the Fritsches promised to raise Kaiden, who is Navajo, within his culture.
The family is planning to take Kaiden and his 16-year-old brother on a road trip this weekend to celebrate.
Catherine Troy, executive director of All Ages Adoption Plus, has attended nearly every Adoption Day since 1999. The first baby she placed for adoption is now 26.
Troy’s own family has grown through adoption. She finalized the adoption of her daughter at the same courthouse in 2000, and adopted her two sons in 2004.
“It’s been my life for the past 25 years,” Troy said.
Yvonne Garcia, outreach and recruitment manager for New Mexico Kids Matter, was attending the event for the first time.
“I’m so excited for all the kiddos,” Garcia said. “This is what all of our community works toward – making sure that these kiddos have a happy beginning.”