Mountain Mail, Salida, CO
by Arlene Shovald
Mail Staff Writer
Cindy Sarai and Emily Watson have a job that makes dreams come true.
Sarai, formerly of Salida, is founder and executive director of Adoption Dreams Come True Inc., based in Fort Collins. Watson is the placement supervisor.
Recently, they made a dream come true for Zach Zeiset and Robin NeJame when they arranged adoption of an infant son for the Salida couple.
“I learned about Cindy when I read an ‘Update’ article about her in The Mountain Mail,” NeJame said. “‘Update’ is about former local residents and what they are doing now.
“Zach and I wanted to adopt a child and when I read about Cindy, I just knew she could help us.”
Sarai and Watson worked with another adoption agency before establishing their own. NeJame and Zeiset had also been working with another agency, trying to adopt girls, ages 7, 9 and 11.
Initially Sarai and Watson helped with that process. When it didn’t work out, Sarai asked if the couple would like to be put on a newborn list. The answer, of course, was yes.
“We figured we had a long wait ahead of us,” NeJame said. “Cindy and Emily introduced us to two birth mothers and we were open to any child.”
One of the birth mothers chose them to be the parents of her unborn baby. When the mother went into early labor, NeJame and her husband accompanied her to the hospital and Sept. 11 their son, Ethan NeJame Zeiset, was born.
“We spent the weekend together at the hospital and we all felt comfortable about the situation,” NeJame said. “I had resigned my job as a Spanish teacher at Salida High School, so I was ready to bring Ethan home and become a full-time mom.”
She and her husband maintain contact with the birth mother, visiting on the telephone about every two weeks. Theirs was an open adoption process, meaning there is direct contact between the birth mother and adoptive parents.
In their case there was a five-month waiting period during which the birth mother could change her mind, but that didn’t happen.
“As of April 13, Ethan was officially ours,” NeJame said. “However, we will continue to keep in contact with the birth mother.”
The adoption involved many hours of counseling, which helped Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. to know before placement if this was going to be a successful match.
Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. serves Colorado and works frequently with Salidans through the Salida Pregnancy Center, Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center and Chaffee County Social Services.
The firm has made placements of children with local families and have had five birth moms in nine years from Salida.
“It was wonderful working with these ladies (Sarai and Watson),” NeJame said. “We were really ready to be parents and we were happy it happened a little sooner than we expected.
“The community was great. We were advised not to buy things for the baby too soon, but about a week and a half before Ethan was born, we began buying things and friends brought us a lot of the items we needed to suddenly become parents.
“It was wonderful and we hope to do it again.”
Zeiset, the new father, said, “We had a real sense of neutral guidance with Adoption Dreams Come True.
“They were really open and answered all our questions and every time they came to work on our home study, we were very comfortable. We never had the feeling we were walking on eggs.
“It was an easy process and they returned calls quickly. And the real beauty is that Cindy (Sarai) is from Salida.”
Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. is planning a major fund-raiser in Fort Collins Oct. 21 and locals are invited to participate through donations of items or attending to bid.
“We offer a lot of Salida packages which gives publicity to this town,” Sarai said.
“One of our items this year will be a week at a local cabin donated by Make the Difference Foundation of which actress Jessica Biel – who has family members in Salida – is the founder.”
For Sarai, Adoption Dreams Come True isn’t work. It’s a passion.
“I work all the time but I don’t consider it work,” she said. “Doing what’s right by children and making healthy happy families isn’t work.”
Watson added, “Adoption is a great field to work in and be a part of. We’re actually creating families.”
A sliding fee scale is available for adoptive parents and is one of the lowest in the state. Birth mothers are never charged for services nor are they paid.
Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. has 57 volunteers throughout Colorado who help with outreach work. Volunteer opportunities are available if anyone is interested.