Friday is National Adoption Day -- for five kids in Mesa County it was also the first day of a bright new chapter in their lives. But for hundreds of others, it's a story that has yet to be told.
4-year-old Alena has had to grow up in foster care, after she was taken from her mother. Her grandparents, Jeanette and Greg Wilson took her in. After almost a year, Alena now gets to call them mommy and daddy.
"We're proud that we can have a chance to give her another chance at life," said Jeanette Wilson. "Her mother made a wrong move. She's our granddaughter and I'm glad she can still be in our family."
Isaiah is in third grade -- and in the Mesa County foster care system. But Friday, he got a new chance at life too. His Aunt Briana adopted him.
"It's been very nice and I'm glad that I've been adopted by my aunt," said Isaiah.
After months of waiting, filling out a lot of paperwork, and a few minutes in front of the judge, it became final -- the Wilsons, Aunt Briana and three others became parents to one more. The kids say Friday was like their birthday and Christmas all wrapped up in one because they finally got the family they always wanted.
"I'm happy," said Alena. "I like my mom."
"She takes care of me and she loves me," said Isaiah. "She spends more time with me than my other mom."
While Alena and Isaiah got their happy endings, officials say there's a lot more work to be done for many kids in the Grand Valley.
"There's a lot of meth problems, alcohol problems, and everything else," said Greg Wilson. "There's a lot of kids out there who need a lot of help."
The Mesa County Department of Human Services says it has between 300 and 350 kids in the foster care system at any given time. Officials say because of their unfortunate circumstances, they are usually harder to find homes for. With only about 80 certified foster families in Mesa County, officials say they need help.
"It takes a lot of love and patience and understanding to be a foster parent," said Karen Martsolf, spokesperson for the Mesa County Department of Human Services. "There are so many families who are amazing, who are stepping up and willing to take on that challenge."
Those who have been there say the time and effort is all worth it, when they look into the smiling faces of kids like Alena and Isaiah.
"There was no doubt, we love this girl," said Jeanette Wilson. "We love our daughter."
For more information on the foster care program or how you can become a certified foster parent, click on the link below.