Chris Babcock-Hooper poses with his newly adopted
sons Dominick, left, and Deangelo, right, on Friday at the Weld County Courthouse. The event was part of Weld County Adoption
Day, on the eve of National Adoption Day. (Jordan Tigges-Reyes photo.)
The three of them — Chris Babcock-Hooper, plus his
soon-to-be-sons Deangelo, 13, and Dominick, 12 — Friday afternoon arrived at the Weld County Courthouse identically
Dark suits, white shirts, splashingly aqua ties.
This was Weld County Adoption Day, commemorated a day before National Adoption
his courtroom, District Court Judge Troy Hause heard from Chris, Deangelo and Dominick; from Chris’ attorney, Dallas
Greenfield; from Chris’ family members; from Chris’ neighbors; and from Weld County case workers.
Chris sat in
the middle at the table, facing Hause, and alternately put an arm around each of the boys.
Then Hause signed off on Chris’
adoption of the two brothers who had arrived in Colorado from Michigan in 2014.
It formalized a relationship that dates back
more than a year, back to when the siblings moved into Chris’ Greeley home, heard Chris say calling him “dad”
was optional, but started calling him that naturally.
Chris is only 25. He is a finance manager at Greeley’s Advantage Auto
“When I was a kid, I grew up across the street from a foster home and I saw a lot of kids coming in and out
of that home,” Chris said. “I’m a single guy and I just want to make a difference in these kids’ lives.”
After he indicated
interest in becoming a foster parent, the steps included training, licensing with a child placement agency, several home inspections
and then waiting about three months for a possible placement in his three-bedroom, two-bathroom house.
“These two kids actually
were in placement with Weld County, and I got a referral for siblings,” he said. “I was actually looking for an
individual kid, and the sibling thing just came about. I said, ‘Yes’ and gave it a shot and they’ve been
in my home ever since — over a year now.
“They still have contacts with their biological grandparents, and they’ve
been a great help, watching them and helping out.”
Deangelo is in the eighth grade, and Dominick in the sixth.
“I feel good,” Deangelo
said. “When you’re in foster care, you have less rules, but you can’t go out of state and go on vacations
and things. Now I get to do all those things! We’ve been working and helping the neighbors, and school is real close.
Chris Babcock-Hooper smiles with his adopted
sons Dominick, right, and Deangelo during an adoption hearing Friday at the Weld County Courthouse. (Jordan Tigges-Reyes photo.)
and I help each other a lot, we play games together.”
So what does being adopted mean to the younger brother, Dominick?
home,” Dominick said.
That says it all.
“A forever home,” Dominick repeated.
He conceded he doesn’t always
get along with Deangelo. They are, after all, brothers.
“But I still love him,” he said simply.
The brothers officially took Chris’
last name — Babcock-Hooper — on Friday.
Dominick said that was fine with him.
“I want to be part of this family,”
That’s what it is now. A bigger family.
“When they first came, I was nervous and scared, not knowing if this
was the right thing,” Chris said. “Now, as time goes on, I’ve seen how far they’ve come. It was kind
of crazy at first. Behaviors were an issue. When he first came to my home, Dominick couldn’t read, not even a street
sign, and he’s able to read fourth- and fifth-grade books. It’s a big deal. He’s come a long way.”
And the adjustment
for a 24-year-old foster father — now a 25-year-old father?
“Huge,” Chris said. “I never had kids
other than nieces and nephews. It was a drastic change. My lifestyle changed. No more hanging out late, but it definitely
was positive for me. I couldn’t be happier.
“Where I go, they go. I don’t try to pawn them off on a babysitter.
If I go to a concert, they’re with me. If I go to a rodeo, they’re with me. If I stay the night at a hotel, they’re
always with me. We try to do outings every weekend, whether it’s hiking or just going Jeeping in the mountains, they’re
always with me.”
Chris said he has continued to date some.
“I make it real firm with who I’m dating or seeing
at the time that my kids are number one,” he said.
At the back of the room, Chris’ father, Bruce, 56, watched with pride.
He is wheelchair bound with a knee problem and Parkinson’s Disease. He addressed the court at one point, noting that,
“Chris grew up learning to trust. He learned how to love.”
After the ceremony, Bruce paused to collect his thoughts
when asked about Chris.
Finally, he said, “He’s grown into every man’s dream son.”