PATERSON - Thousands of families nationwide marked National Adoption Day with a special gathering in Paterson.
Maria and Ted Rothenburger adopted 3-year-old Owen last year from Korea. They say he's now as much a member of the family as any biological child would be. "He's ours," says Maria Rothenburger. "He's totally ours. Sometimes I actually forget he's adopted."
The family shared its story with other adoptive parents and adopted children on Friday.
"It's an annual event in which the courts in all 50 states join together to finalize adoptions and celebrate the families who adopt," says Judge Donald Vokert of Passaic County.
This is the 14th annual National Adoption Day, which is also designed to raise awareness about the issue. There are currently more than 100,000 foster children in the U.S. looking for permanent homes.
Rothenburger hopes the day will encourage would-be parents to consider adoption. "It's meant becoming a parent. We thought we would not be able to do so. We had wanted that forever. It took forever. But it was all worth it, 100 percent," she says.
Rothenburger says in some ways being an adoptive parent is better than being a biological one because she is now connected with other people who are special in Owen's life.
National Adoption Day has helped to find permanent homes for 45,000 children.