More than five dozen foster care children will be formally adopted during a series of hearings Saturday at the Riverside Historic Courthouse in recognition of National Adoption Awareness Month.

The Riverside County Superior Court is hosting the ceremonies, during which the adoption process will be finalized for 62 children welcomed into homes by 40 families who reside throughout the county, according to the Department of Public Social Services.

DPSS is coordinating with the court to conduct the hearings, with several judges and commissioners presiding over the ceremonies over a roughly four-hour span.

“Our team looks forward to this event every year,” said DPSS Assistant Director Marie Brown-Mercadel. “The opportunity to connect children to their forever homes is one of the highlights of our work. This calendar year we have finalized 504 adoptions. However, we have many other children (who) are awaiting permanent placements. We encourage families considering adoption to contact us for more information.”

The children being adopted Saturday include toddlers and teenagers.

Until 2015, the county scheduled mass adoption events to coincide with National Adoption Day, which is traditionally the Saturday before Thanksgiving. According to DPSS spokeswoman Colette Crawford, it was decided to start holding the event earlier in the month because too many families complained of scheduling conflicts going into the holiday week.

Since National Adoption Day began in 2000, close to 70,000 children nationwide have been adopted from foster care on that day, according to the National Adoption Day Coalition.

National Adoption Awareness Month is intended to focus attention on the estimated 117,000 children in foster care who are eligible for adoption.

“On any given day, more than 100 foster children are waiting for permanent adoptive homes in Riverside County,” Crawford said. “The county’s adoption program continually needs committed individuals and couples to adopt children who are among the most difficult-to-place children.”

“Sibling groups, teenagers, minority children and children with special medical or behavioral needs continue to wait the longest to find loving, permanent homes,” she said.

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