I’ve had the privilege of attending a couple of adoption proceedings at the Washoe County Second Judicial Court through my work with both the Washoe CASA Foundation and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judge (NCJFCJ). Seeing the final step in the adoption process is quite emotional (e.g., I’m not crying, you’re crying!). Once you see the kids’ faces and how genuinely happy they are, you’ll know the world is a better place because these special kids have found their forever family.
The Kanute family exemplifies the meaning of hope for kids in the system. Recently, Nathan and Lisa adopted their third and fourth daughters from Washoe County foster care. All four children adopted. All beautiful girls. That day, donning unicorns and rainbows on their dresses, tutus, skirts and even Nathan’s tie. It was, in fact, a proceeding filled with hopes and dreams for these kids and their futures.
“The Kanute family is uniquely poised to adopt and care for these children through the Washoe County system,” said Travis Clark, family law attorney for Surratt Law Practice. “Their generosity and caring are second to none.”
Judge Bridget Robb oversaw the adoption proceedings. She noted the lively activity in the courtroom with the children. “I am seeing evidence of busy children and active parents,” she said, as she smiled.
It is a tradition in the Second Judicial Court, that family members, colleagues and friends who attend the proceeding, have the opportunity to say a few words to the family. Each of the attendees delivered heartfelt messages to the Kanutes – everything from joy and congratulations, to sheer relief that things were now official.
“All of our girls have been in our home for quite some time,” said Nathan Kanute, who is also a Washoe CASA board member. “They are our family. It’s not our first rodeo, but this is the last of our adoptions. Our hearts are so full.”
As Judge Robb reiterated to those present at the hearing that it “takes a village” to raise a child, she also noted that the village present in the courtroom with the Kanutes was bigger than most towns in Nevada.
Currently, there are more than 900 children in Washoe County foster care. There are nearly 100 Washoe CASA volunteers serving 146 children under the court’s jurisdiction. CASAs are dedicated to the safety, well-being, and best interests of abused, neglected and dependent children who are the subject of judicial proceedings. Appointed by the court, CASA volunteers work diligently to determine what is in the best interest of the child and ensure that positive outcomes are achieved. Because of the need for more volunteers, Nathan and Lisa’s girls never had CASAs during their time in care. Given their backgrounds, the Kanutes were uniquely poised to be the advocates for their girls. Nathan is the first to note, though, that “many children in the foster care system do not have the advocates they need, which often results in outcomes that are less than optimal.” The Washoe CASA Foundation is continually working to provide more advocates and create the right outcomes for these children. The Kanutes encourage you to become informed on the issues facing children in foster care in our community and find out how you can help.
Most people think that it is impossible to catch a rainbow, let alone a unicorn. The Kanute family got four precious ones.
Written by: Chrisie Yabu, KPS3