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Montana families celebrate adoption at State Capitol

Adoption Celebration
Bragg Family.jpg
Adoption Celebration
Posted at 6:13 PM, Nov 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-22 14:07:40-05

HELENA — November is National Adoption Month, and families gathered in Helena on Tuesday to talk about the value of adoption.

Civic leaders hosted the 25th annual adoption celebration in the State Capitol rotunda, sponsored by the Montana Department of Public Health & 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 several children with her husband.

The St. Andrew School youth choir performed two songs during the celebration, including one titled “Happy Adoption Day.”

Adoption Celebration
Montana leaders held a 25th annual celebration of adoption in the State Capitol rotunda Nov. 21, 2023.

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,” said Bradley.

The Braggs officially adopted Zendell, now 14, in 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. “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.”

Adoption Celebration
The St. Andrew School youth choir performed at a celebration of adoption in the Montana State Capitol rotunda Nov. 21, 2023.

Governor 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 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.

Contact the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) at 1-866-9-FOSTER for more information about adoption and/or fostering.

Who May Adopt? Either married couples or single adults who have an approved pre-placement evaluation or adoptive home study may adopt in the State of Montana.

How do I get a home study? If you live in Montana, you may begin the process by contacting your CFS office. If you live outside of Montana, contact your state or local office that provides these services.

What about training? Montana Child and Family Services requires and provides special training to all of our foster and adoptive parents. The training is offered at various times and places around the State of Montana.

Click here to learn more about child adoption in Montana.