Thankful hearts as families celebrate National Adoption Day

Published on November 21, 2018

The Schmidt family Thanksgiving will look a little different this year.

Their table will be laid out with teddy bear plates and in addition to pie, there will be birthday cake - marking the first birthday of their son, Theo, whose adoption was finalized Saturday at Placer County’s National Adoption Day celebration in Auburn.

Theo is the third child, all siblings, that Gretchen and Thomas Schmidt have fostered and later adopted, in addition to having two biological children.

“It’s been amazing, inspiring, and I’m so happy we get to keep them together and that we get to have them the rest of their lives,” Gretchen said. “Those five faces looking at me is all that I need.”

On Saturday, the family of seven wore orange and gray “Thankful for Theo” shirts as each of them signed the final adoption paperwork.

Others packed into the courtroom also, including Theo’s biological grandmother, Pam -- who was emotional upon realizing that her own adoption had been finalized in the very same courthouse more than half a century earlier. She has remained in all three grandchildren’s lives during the foster and adoption processes.

“I feel so blessed,” she said. “I want my grandkids to know me and know that they’re loved in this situation.”

“We are a family now. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to give my kids that connection,” Gretchen said.

Through the challenges of the fostering process, from emotional upheaval to frequent court dates, Gretchen and Thomas have remained focused on the children.

“It’s making the decision that love is all you need,” Gretchen said. “All the paperwork, courts, hearings, and anything like that is nothing compared to being with them every day.”

“It’s worth it. I can’t tell you how I feel today,” Thomas said. “How rewarding it is to know that I’ve given these kids a chance at life that they wouldn’t have gotten. And how much they’ve enriched my life and our family’s life by adding to it.”

National Adoption Day occurs each year across the country. In Placer County a handful of adoptions are finalized that day in November and families celebrate with treats, facepainting and fun activities. View more photos from the event below, and learn more about fostering children in need.

National Adoption Day 2018