COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado Springs couple is being honored by the state for adopting seven children through foster care and fostering almost thirty.
Eric and Ashlette Lopez have always wanted to become foster parents. One of the reasons is to help reunite families.
"It was a huge blessing when we got to work alongside mothers and got to be that support and encouragement they needed so they could get their kiddos back. Obviously, we've adopted seven children from foster care so it does happen, but it's a last resort," said Ashlette.
The decision to adopt their seven children wasn't an easy one, but they did so as a family.
"We've had placements that have gone to adoptions, and we've helped moved onto an adoptive home. We still get to be involved in their life, but with the kids that we did adopt, each one we knew there was a reason behind the adoption. One of them was kinship and they were family, our little girl came to us straight from the hospital and we had a great relationship with her birth mom, and she wanted us to adopt her. With our other ones, they were sibling groups, and because of my time in foster care and being separated from my siblings. We couldn't see them being separated from each other," said Ashlette.
The couple also had to overcome adversity as Eric is deaf, and Ashlette is legally blind.
"At the beginning when we were first getting licensed, we had a county tell us well if you can't drive how are you going to get places, and if he can't hear how can you hear the baby. First off, we already have our child so we've been doing this for years, and two we just don't let things in life limit us," said Ashlette.
Their work fostering and adopting multiple sibling groups caught the attention of the Colorado Department of Human Services. The agency honored the family last week during a virtual ceremony.
"There are no words to put into it because what we do is just for the kids. It's for the kids only, and that's our main focus," said Eric.
The couple received a plaque of their family, and a fee gift card to their favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse. Their story will be shared to inspire others across the state.
"We recognize and share their stories in this way to encourage families who may want to encourage foster care or adopt a child that's waiting for their forever home," said Mina Castillo Cohen, Colorado Department of Human Services.
She says the need is greater than ever with only 76 children adopted from foster care in El Paso County this year, and 26 still waiting for permanent homes.
"Every single Colorado community needs adoptive and foster parents, but we especially need those who have complex behavioral and mental health needs, teens, sibling groups," said Castillo Cohen.
While it can be a tough job, Eric and Ashlette say it is the most rewarding experience.
"It is so worth it, and the kids are worth it," said Ashlette.