Nate Hunter shares a smile with his adopted daughter, Isabelle, 7, as she showed off her new face painting during the Adoption Day event in the Kenosha County Courthouse on Friday. Looking on is one of Nate and Kathryn Hunter’s three biological children, Madeline.

‘We’re very happy’: Smiles tell the story on Kenosha County Adoption Day

Courthouse hosts festivities for local forever families Friday


Kenosha County is located in the southeastern corner of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Its population in 2019 was estimated to be 169,561, making it the eighth most populous county in Wisconsin. The county is named after the county seat, Kenosha, the fourth largest city in Wisconsin.

Nate and Kathryn Hunter of Kenosha know all about patience, and how good things can come to people who wait.

They adopted their daughter, Isabelle, in September 2020, in a process that was delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

County Executive Samantha Kerkman congratulates and thanks adoptive and foster families during an Adoption Day event Friday at the Kenosha County Courthouse. Celebrated guests included the 18 children whose adoptions were finalized Friday and their families, as well as others who have completed the process over the last couple years.

On Friday afternoon, they finally had the chance to celebrate their family milestone in the company of many others, as Kenosha County resumed its annual Adoption Day festivities in the Courthouse.

“We didn’t get our Adoption Day — that’s why we’re here,” said Nate Hunter, taking in the festivities among other recently expanded families.

Inspired by a similar event in Milwaukee County and launched locally by Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Chad Kerkman in 2011, Adoption Day is an opportunity for families that have completed the adoption process — some on that actual day — to gather in celebration and recognition of their achievement.

“This is always such a joyful occasion for all of the families, as well as the court staff and child advocates who help see them through the process,” Kerkman said.

County Executive Samantha Kerkman speaks during the Adoption Day event Friday afternoon at the Kenosha County Courthouse. Looking on are Kenosha County Children and Family Services Director Ron Rogers, left, and Circuit Court Judge Chad Kerkman.

Coinciding with Friday’s event, 18 adoptions were completed in multiple court branches, involving roughly 10 families. (Some families adopted multiple children.)

Because it was the first Adoption Day to be held in a few years, other families like the Hunters who had missed out on the celebration were also invited.

It all added up to a big party in the lower-level jury room at the Courthouse — complete with cookies, face painting and goodie-stuffed backpacks for adopted children and their siblings, supplied by the Jockey Being Family Foundation.

Kenosha County Executive Samantha Kerkman asked for a show of hands of families who had adopted that day, those who had adopted earlier, and those who are fostering children. She then thanked them all.

“It’s so wonderful to see these loving families together,” the county executive said. “Foster families and those who adopt are truly our knights in shining armor, providing loving homes to these children. I am so very appreciative of all of you.”

The Hunters’ journey through the process is a symbol of that compassion.

Isabelle Hunter, 7, smiles as she has her face painted during Friday’s Adoption Day event at the Kenosha County Courthouse. Isabelle’s parents, Nate and Kathryn Hunter, finalized their adoption of her in September 2020, three years after she came into their home as a foster child.

While they already had three biological children, Kathryn Hunter said she and her husband knew other families who were fostering and were moved by the desire to care for children who need help.

They began fostering in 2016, and met Isabelle through that process not long after. After spending three years as a foster in their home, Isabelle’s adoption was finalized on Sept. 18, 2020. She was 3 when she arrived, 6 when she was adopted, and will turn 8 this July.

“We’re very happy,” Kathryn Hunter said. “She’s great. Our big kids love her. It’s been a great experience.”

Learn more:

More information about the foster care system in Kenosha County and how you can become a foster parent is available at

The Jockey Being Family Foundation, based in Kenosha, provides support to adoptive families locally and nationwide. More information is at

1HOPE is a local faith-based organization that facilitates a Foster Family Support Network. Learn more at