By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
The courtrooms at 169th and 146th District Court at the Bell County Judicial Complex were decorated in the “Yellow Brick Road” theme on Friday as part of National Adoption Day. “There is no place like home,” was a reminder to each one of the children getting adopted that they have now found their “forever home.”
“It’s just a great event. It is so nice to be in a courthouse, when it is a joyous occasion,” said Eddy Lange, sheriff, Bell County. “It signifies great hope for the young men and ladies. Special thanks goes out to the bar association.”
Adoption Day is a coast-to-coast effort to finalize foster care adoptions. Every year about 23,000 children in foster care will “age-out” of the system without ever having the stability of a permanent family. More than 100,000 children are in foster care now in the United States and are awaiting adoption.
“It’s awesome and the best Friday the 13th for these families. This year’s Adoption Day, we have seventeen families and twenty-two children,” commented Cindi Parker, Bell County Bar Association. “The kids get tokens of the event, a teddy bear and a pop-up book and they get their first family photos by a professional photographer.”
“It is always the highlight of these kids lives. Just like being born, they finally have a family,” remarked David Lackmeyer, attorney. “They just do not feel it is permanent till the judge says, ‘you have a new family’. A really great day for all these kids and families.”
Each child that was placed with their new family received a necklace with a pendant inscribed with their new name. New parents could be spotted with shaky hands as they clasped the necklace around their newest family member. The children were also given a teddy bear and a “Wizard of Oz” pop-up book and a family photograph to commemorate the special occasion.
“Best Friday the 13th ever, no bad luck ever, no bad luck today,” said Cynthia Helmandollar, executive director, Bell County Bar Association. “It is fun, we decorated the courtrooms the night before.”
“I feel happy! I waited two years for this. Now, I have four brothers,” commented Kaydane Tanguay.
Students from Belton New Tech @Waskow and St. Mary’s schools helped with decorating and providing cheerleaders that cheered as each child came back from the judge’s bench.
“She is our eighth baby. We are very excited, we couldn’t sleep last night,” said Lisa Perea. “Her name is Ariel Moon Wells, soon to be Ariel Moon Perea. We are not going to change her name, because she looks like an Ariel Moon and that is her name. She will soon be 18 months old, and she knows us as her mother and father. We first met her when her mother was five months pregnant with her.”
Shirley and Will Haynes became the parents of her ninth grandchild on Friday. Haynes now is the parent of nine siblings from ages 17 to the newest member of the family, 11 months old.
“These kids won the lottery. There really should be a movie about [the Haynes family]. A wonderful family,” said Judge Jack Jones.
“Best thing that ever happens to these kids. There was a 15-year-old that was in foster care for years. She was just ecstatic, her eyes lit up just like a Christmas tree. She didn’t think this was ever going to happen,” remarked adoption specialist Susan Mason.