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Cheyanne clutches her adoption certificate officially making her a part of the Kamanns family as she releases a balloon at the annual Adoption Celebration held on Friday.

Adoption and the foster families that made it possible was celebrated on Friday at the Lincoln County Department of Social Services. The annual Adoption Ceremony is a favorite time of year for services program administrator Sandy Kennedy, adoption specialist Laura Bowles and other staff involved in foster care and adoptions. Adoption is not an easy process, as it can be stressful with all the court proceedings, paperwork and waiting.

“Even though it is difficult,” Bowles said. “I know that none of the families here would trade it for anything because it’s all worth it. We’re proud to have been a part of the adoption process.”

This was a very good year with 28 children being adopted in Lincoln County. The families who chose to adopt these 28 children, many of whom had been dealt a less than ideal hand, have made a lasting difference in their lives.

“People think that the judges have a lot to do with the adoption process,” judge Larry Wilson said. “We certainly preside over the cases and we do our dead level best to make the best decisions that we can at the time in the courtroom for the issue that’s before us and to make the best decisions for the good of the children and the families. At the end of the day, it’s the foster parents and adoptive parents who make the wheels keep turning on this process.”

Older children often stay in foster care longer than younger ones. Cheyanne was one of the lucky ones. Just shy of 15 years old, she found herself in need of an alternative living arrangement. What was particularly serendipitous about Cheyanne’s predicament was that she had a second home right down the street from where she once lived.

“We just took her in,” Melissa Kamanns said. “She was always a part of our family.”

Initially, the Kamanns were asked to keep Cheyanne while the investigation was going on. 

Of course, bringing someone who has always been a friend into a family situation has its inherent difficulties in that it changes the dynamics of the relationship, Jonathan Kamanns said. 

“So, you work through some very different things,” he said. “When you’re best friends with someone, you don’t generally have to worry too much about the impact that you have on them, you just coexist. In a family atmosphere where everything you do impacts a larger part of the family, it’s not like, ‘hey I get to stop in for a weekend and then I’m gone regardless of what I do.’ Now, the impact is felt permanently. In time, you start to build different relationships.”

The Kamanns’ biological daughter, Autumn, was best friends with Cheyanne growing up. At first, she wasn’t friends with their other daughter, Kierstin.

“She annoyed me when Autumn and she were younger,” she said. “They were just catty. It was a big adjustment, but it was worth it.”

The Kamanns hadn’t even considered fostering before Cheyanne entered the picture. They weren’t foster approved. After they agreed to let Cheyanne stay with them, they had to go through weeks of classes, loads of paperwork, home inspections, case workers, background checks and financial checks. It all took over two years.

“At first her father asked if she could stay with us for a few weeks,” Melissa Kamanns said. “But when we found out that DSS was involved, we knew something serious was going on.”

It’s no surprise that Cheyanne has benefited from what the Kamanns family has done for her, but Jonathan Kamanns insists that they’ve profited just as much.

“My girls have never hurt for anything and to be able to have somebody come into your household and show you what the other end of life really is, it’s humbling,” he said. “It’s a huge lesson.”

Now the blended family has four teenage girls in the house ranging from 14 to 19 years old.

“This is the month that we should all be thankful for family,” DSS director Tony Carpenter said. “Family doesn’t have to be blood. It’s loving and caring for one another.”

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