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Baldwin Park Living Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 8 months ago

Deirdre Klein Ochipinti finds her family

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Baldwin Park resident Deirdre Klein Ochipinti started the Children’s Adoption Carnival in 2020. The carnival recently celebrated its second year.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

Baldwin Park resident Deirdre Klein Ochipinti found her family through the adoption process.

Now, she wants to encourage and raise awareness for others.

Ochipinti on Sunday, Nov. 21, hosted the second annual Children’s Adoption Carnival. The carnival brought together local families and prominent business leaders in the community to Blue Jacket Park for an afternoon of fun, games and food in celebration of National Adoption Month.

The free event was open to everyone, not just those in the adoption community, and included snacks, rock walls, bounce houses, face painting, horses, food trucks and more. Heart of Adoptions adoption agency was also in attendance and hosted a tent to educate and inform on the topic of adoption.

The event also featured key-note speaker Pat Williams, known for his work with the National Basketball Association, co-founder of the Orlando Magic and former manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. Williams is also an adoptive father.

Ochipinti, founder and host of the annual carnival, has made it her mission to create awareness while honoring adoptive parents and children, because they are truly “real-life superheroes” to her.

“I want my children and other children to know just how special they are, and this event gives us an opportunity to honor these children, their families and other local residents who support the cause,” Ochipinti says.

Ochipinti has been living in Baldwin Park since 2012. She loves the town and the community almost as much as her kids do. Living here allows her children to be independent in a safe environment.

ALEC’S STORY

At age 34, Ochipinti was married, and by age 35, she and her husband were ready to start a family.

However, the process proved to be more difficult than expected. After years of struggling to conceive— and thousands of dollars later —Ochipinti finally found her family through the adoption process.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster, but something I wouldn’t change for the world, because it gave me my family,” Ochipinti says. “If I could go back, I wouldn’t have done any of it different.”

In 2008, at age 38, Ochipinti and her husband adopted their first child, Alec, through the “A Chosen Child” adoption agency. Alec was born locally at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and came 10 weeks earlier than expected.

Now, Alec is 13 years old and thriving.

“Alec is naturally smart, empathetic and has a huge heart,” Ochipinti says. “He is an easy and well-balanced kid, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Ochipinti’s adoption awareness efforts started when Alec was only 2 years old.

Medical personnel and others involved in the adoption process advised Ochipinti to start talking about adoption right away, when Alec was still young.

“They told me it was just going to be a normal word I would be adding to my vocabulary,” Ochipinti says.

Ochipinti traveled all around searching local bookstores for children’s adoption books she could read to Alec at night. She was guided towards the self-help section but says all the books she found were negative and not comprehensive for children.

In 2019, after 10 years of work, Ochipinti published her first book, “Super Alec’s Very Super Day: An Adoption Story.”

The illustrated book follows the story of Alec, an energetic little boy who summons all his might to prepare his home for the long-awaited arrival of his equally super adopted baby sister.

MEET KATE

In 2012, the family adopted their second child, Kate, also born at Winnie Palmer. Ochipinti says Alec and Kate think they are blood relatives because they were born at the same hospital.

Ochipinti says Kate has a huge personality, always speaks her mind, is passionate, caring and loves animals.

“This whole experience has been amazing,” Ochipinti says. “Largely because my kids are amazing.”

Ochipinti started the adoption carnival last year in honor of her kids. She says she wants adopted kids to feel normal and wants to eliminate the negative stigma surrounding the topic.

Ochipinti planned the 2020 carnival in less than two weeks with the help of Soiree Co. Event Planning. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there was a massive turn out.

“This year’s and last year’s events really showcased the beauty of adoption, and it was a happy celebration for everyone involved,” Ochipinti says.

Ochipinti says she plans to host the annual adoption carnival for many years to come and hopefully expand the event. She also has already started on her next book, which will follow Kate’s adventures growing up.

Next year’s carnival will take place Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.

“My adoption experience was life-changing,” she says. “It was life-altering, and I want people to know they are not alone in this process. As soon as you have that baby in your arms, it doesn’t matter where they came from. They’re yours, and they’re your family forever."

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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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