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Family lauded for adoptions

A West Fargo family that reunited five siblings through adoption now has a date with the White House.

Jason and Dana Mitzel were notified recently by the state's congressional delegation that they have been selected to receive the Angels in Adoption award and to represent North Dakota in the Adoptive Family Portrait Project.

The Mitzels first accepted their son Brandon, then a 4-year-old from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in south-central North Dakota, as a foster child in 2001.

During the next six years, they reunited Brandon with his older brothers, Ben and Johnny, who were living with separate families in Minnesota, and with the boys' younger half sisters, Sky Rain and Alicia, from the Three Affiliated Tribes in western North Dakota.

The Mitzels operate the Rainbow Shop Christian bookstore in south Fargo and had tried unsuccessfully to have children on their own.

They decided to reunite the boys despite social workers' warnings that they couldn't get along with each other.

Jason Mitzel said they were surprised by the awards.

"We're just doing what God told us to do, or what we felt God was leading us to do," he said. "It was a miracle how they all came together."

U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., who has two adopted children, nominated the family for the Angels in Adoption award, given by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute to honor constituents who enrich the lives of foster children and orphans.

A White House lawn celebration is planned on Sept. 15, followed by a gala on Sept. 16. Mitzel said the family hopes to raise enough money so that they all can attend.

The portrait project is put on by Voice for Adoption, a national group that advocates for better adoption policies.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., told the Mitzels in a July 30 letter that they were chosen for the project because of their "invaluable efforts in making a difference in the lives of wonderful children.

"Your family is a shining example to both the community and the nation of the enrichment and joy adoption can bring," Conrad wrote.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528