In California, more than 63,000 youth live in foster care. To recognize the thousands of California children who are waiting for the love and support of a permanent family, their names are read during the annual Calling Out of Names ceremony. For former foster child, Alex Arespacochaga, this year’s ceremony had a whole new meaning.
During the event, Alex and his adoptive parents Lester and Vannessa Arespacochaga, were named Family of the Year by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services. This recognition is given to a family that goes above and beyond while recognizing their dedication to family, which not only makes a difference in the child’s life but, in the community as well.
“The Arespacochaga’s embody the true meaning of family, not only did they adopt Alexander, they took his adult sisters under their wings as well,” said Alicia Iniguez, Adoption Social Worker for the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services
. “This, along with their commitment to the adoption process and dedication to each other are just a few of the many reasons why they received this award.”
After seeing a commercial for Foster to Adopt, the Arespacochaga’s began researching the adoption process and started working with Lilliput Families, a private, non-profit Foster Family Agency in January of 2015 to complete the Resources Family Approval Program, making them eligible to adopt and able to begin the matching process.
“I can remember getting ‘the call’ in May of 2016 about a young man who was just about to turn six years old,” said Lester. “We met Alicia Iniguez, where she told us about Alex and his two sisters that wished to keep their relationship with him and we knew right away that we wanted to meet him.”
In the following weeks, Lester and Vannessa had the opportunity to meet Alex and his two sisters, Ruby and Toniesha. After spending the afternoon reading books with Alex, the couple immediately knew that they wanted to adopt him. “You could tell he had a sweet soul and his smile lit up the room,” said Vannessa. “When we met his sisters, they were very welcoming and we could tell how eager they were to find a loving home for their baby brother.”
On Jan. 17, 2017, Alex was adopted by the Arespacochaga’s and his dream of a permanent, loving family came true. Alex has created everlasting bonds with Lester and Vannessa’s families, built strong friendships at school and is more confident than ever before. Alex enjoys reading, singing, swimming, dancing and playing basketball but most importantly, has thrived in his new environment.
Since adopting Alex, Vannessa and Lester have continued to maintain relationships with Ruby and Toniesha, integrating them into family activities while also serving as mentors for the girls as they plan for their futures. This past summer, the family went on a road trip to Southern California where they helped Ruby get settled into her dorm room at University of California, Los Angeles. As for Toniesha, she is following in her sister’s footsteps, taking classes at Sacramento City College with plans to transfer to University of California, Santa Barbara.
“We are so grateful to Sacramento County for recognizing us as Family of the Year,” said Vannessa. “Our hope is that our journey can be shared and encourage more families to take the same path.”