FULTON, NY – Overseen by judges of the Fifth Judicial District of the New York State Unified Court System and Onondaga County Executive Joannie Mahoney, dozens of local families took their turn to welcome new additions with official adoption finalization proceedings at Syracuse’s 17th Annual National Adoption Day.
For one Fulton family, this meant celebrating five children officially welcomed to the Hotchkiss family.
Esperanza Hotchkiss, 28, had been fostering two sets of siblings ranging in age from three to 12 and on Friday (Nov 17) she officially took them in as her own.
With one biological child, the single mother’s household transitioned from only one child to a total of six children, but the change is one she couldn’t imagine any other way.“
I couldn’t be happier! We all feel so complete,” Hotchkiss said.
Hotchkiss felt compelled to become a foster parent after experiencing the foster system herself.
“When I was 16 I was placed in foster care and was extremely scared, I use to hear bad stories about foster parents. Then I met my parents and they treated me like one of their own and changed my life for the better. I really wanted to change the lives of kids and let them know that things aren’t always going to be bad,” she explained.
One visit to Elmcrest Children’s Center nearly three years ago and her mind was set, her first set of foster children had touched her heart.
She held her youngest, now three-years-old, but just a baby when they met. She instantly cried, knowing her home was calling for him. His sister, now six-years-old, a diabetic, Hotchkiss needed training before she could take her into her home but knew there was never an option to separate the pair.
From one child to three, her family had taken the first leap.
Shortly after, three more children, now ages 12, 11, and four, came to her house on respite, what was supposed to be a temporary, two-week stay.
“Their biological mother saw how happy they were with me and how different they all looked that she made a call to the county begging for me to keep them in my home and I said, ‘of course!’” Hotchkiss recalled.
When the idea of adoption came up, Hotchkiss was nervous to become a single mother of six but the love in her heart wouldn’t miss the opportunity to welcome all five children into her home permanently.
Working two jobs and with a solid support system, Hotchkiss and her son were thrilled to extend their family officially, though their love had already made them family three years ago.
Esperanza’s foster parents, Dustin and Bonnie Hotchkiss, inspired her to become a foster parent in the first place and though not through an official adoption, she took their last name and they happily accept the role of Esperanza’s parents and her children’s grandparents.
With two biological children of their own, the couple decided they would foster and eventually adopt to fulfill their want for a third child nearly two decades ago.
18 years later, the Hotchkiss’ have fostered 23 children and until Friday, had adopted one.
Most recently, they took in two sisters, a seven-year-old and 11-year-old and at Syracuse’s National Adoption Day, they became an official part of the Hotchkiss family.
“The girls fit in to our family immediately and we knew right away that we wanted to adopt them,” Bonnie Hotchkiss said.
The extended family spends a great deal of time together and for seven adoptive children, they went from unpleasant surroundings, little to no family contact, and life in foster care to one big loving Hotchkiss family.
The Hotchkiss’ joined more than 50 other families from across Upstate New York that welcomed new additions to their homes at the event.
Visit the National Adoption Day website for more information regarding adoption and to find a local agency near you.