Maricopa County prepares biggest "Adoption Day" in the country

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By Chloe Nordquist By Chloe Nordquist

CHANDLER, Ariz. --- Angela and Chuck Fazio already had four children, ages 10 through 23, but say they felt compelled to look into adoption after a church service earlier this year.

In June, the Fazios met then three-year-old Bentley and eight-year-old Ariana. The siblings were removed from their home two years ago, and moved between several foster homes. Sometimes they were kept together, but other times they were separated.

"When we were apart, I wanted to be with Bentley," Ariana said.

The Fazios said the kids immediately felt like part of the family.

"Bentley jumped right in my lap and gave me a big hug," Chuck said.

"They called us mom and dad right away," Angela added.

On Saturday, Ariana and Bentley will join 332 other children in Maricopa County to officially be adopted into their new "forever homes."  The Valley boasts the nation's largest number of adoptions, which are part of National Adoption Day.

"It's been a fun challenge and an adjustment, but it's been great," 23-year-old big sister Danielle said.

"I didn't see it coming, but the kids are really fun to hang out with. It's important they know this is their last home," 19-year-old Charles said.

"I help with homework and other things," added Matthew, 10, who is suddenly no longer the youngest child in the family.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of National Adoption Day in Maricopa County.  During the last 15 years, more than 3,000 children have had their adoption decrees finalized during Maricopa County National Adoption Day.

"Maricopa County Superior Court is very proud to take part in National Adoption Day.  On this day we celebrate and recognize the families who commit to providing safe, loving homes for children," Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Colleen McNally said in a statement.

County officials say the event helps raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families. Children being adopted this week range in age from newborns to teenagers. Many are victims of abuse, abandonment, and neglect.

The event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Durango Juvenile Court building in Phoenix from 9 a.m. to approximately 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend.