November 19 was National Adoption Day—a day when families across the nation finalize adoptions of children in foster care en masse. Locally, fourteen children were adopted during this year’s Collin County National Adoption Day celebration.
I’ve sometimes wondered why a parent who has waited so long and overcome so many barriers in order to adopt would delay their adoption until National Adoption Day instead of making their family official at the earliest opportunity. When I arrived at the Collin County District Courthouse the morning of the event, the reason started to come into focus.
I used to practice family law, and part of my job involved visiting the courthouse to attend early-morning prove-ups to finalize my client’s divorces. The judge would knock out the divorces as efficiently as possible, one after another. Divorce. Next! Divorce. Next! Divorce. But during one of my court mornings, there was a little ray of sunshine—sandwiched in between divorces, a beaming step-father was adopting his small step-son. The judge mentioned how this was the highlight of his day, and then, without skipping a beat, called up the next divorce.
Like a marriage, an adoption is more than just a change in legal status, and Collin County’s National Adoption Day provides all the fanfare an adoption deserves. The usual red tape and formalities of court are suspended, transforming the entire courthouse into a child-friendly zone. Kids sit in jury boxes decorated with balloons, each courtroom is piled high with stuffed animals (which adoptees get to keep), and attorneys and CPS caseworkers trade their usual suits for splashy superhero costumes.
Fourteen children were adopted during Foster Friends board members serve breakfast to new families and their supporters during the Collin County National Adoption Day celebration.[/caption]Collin County National Adoption Day this year. The adoption that most warmed my heart?—a teacher adopting her seventeen-year-old student. As the proceedings got started, the court called the teacher’s extended family out of the gallery so that they could surround and support the mother and daughter. As the case continued, the court staff assured a nervous mother in the gallery that it was perfectly ok for her toddler to be running around the courtroom. (Another perk of National Adoption Day!) Once the adoption was complete, the judge took the time to pose for photos and celebrate with the teary-eyed family. The family enjoyed plenty of time for hugs, photos, and gifts before the next adoption was called.
Out in the courthouse lobby, the festivities continued with live music, costumed characters, and a photo booth. Foster Friends provided gifts for the new families and a face painter. Our board also had the pleasure of providing and staffing a breakfast buffet, which is how I am able to tell you that donuts with rainbow sprinkles should be named the official food of National Adoption Day.
By finalizing their adoptions together, the families hope to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 US children who are still waiting for a permanent home. Approximately 60 of those waiting children are from Collin County.