It was a day of jubilation as 23 children were adopted by 13 families at the Bell County Adoption Day celebration on Friday. In accordance with November being National Adoption Month, approximately 94 children have been adopted in Region 7 thus far, and four county celebrations have yet to occur.

Originating in 2000, National Adoption Day is a mass adoption event that has grown to be observed by 400 cities across the United States, the National Adoption Day website said. This year, National Adoption Day falls on Saturday, Nov. 23, and there are celebrations happening throughout the month of November.

Becky Mercer has been with Lonestar Social Services for two and a half years, starting as a case manager and now serving as the Region 7 Supervisor. She worked as a Certified Nurse Aide in Lampasas, Texas, and although she enjoyed it, she soon realized it was not something she could physically do forever. Knowing God had called her to work in the social services field in some capacity, Becky began to recognize the joy Lonestar Social Services was bringing her brother-in-law, Dr. James W. Mercer, who is also the President and Owner of Lonestar Social Services.

“I saw the difference he was making in children’s lives and saw how fulfilled he felt and enjoyed doing it,” Becky said. “That was when I decided to continue my education and work in the foster care/adoption field.”

When asked what advice she would give her former self, Becky said it would be to keep the faith that she was on the right career path.

“I would tell myself that if you start to forget why you chose this path, remember the ‘why’ and know that God is with you, even on the challenging days that you may forget,” Becky said.

While working in the social services industry comes with its challenges, Becky said it is fulfilling to witness children thrive and develop from the beginning of their journey with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to the end.

Becky added that foster parents have the hardest, yet most important job in DFPS care, as children may come into their lives with developmental or intellectual delays, as well as a fear of growing close to their caregivers.

“Basically, I would say my favorite aspect of this job is watching the foster parents making a positive difference in these children’s lives all because they chose to say ‘yes,’” Becky said. “I can’t tell you how many tears have come from my eyes when I have watched a child give their first hug to their caregivers or have picked up a book and started reading it.”

When it comes to Adoption Day preparations, Becky said it begins a couple of months before November, and Lonestar Social Services does everything they can to go above in beyond to ensure the families feel well loved and celebrated on this special day. This does not only go for Bell County, as Lonestar Social Services participates in most of the Adoption Day celebrations within Region 7.

For the past three years, Lonestar Social Services has dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz, which fits the theme of “there’s no place like home.”

“From what I have heard and been told, the community absolutely loves the thought and details that go into planning the special day: from the characters dressing up to the food, decoration and gifts that are given out to the families,” Becky said. “Every sponsor that is involved in Adoption Day is grateful for the hard work and time that they put in to make this day special.”

When the time comes for the actual event, each new family is given the opportunity to tell their story in front of the judge with the support of their fellow, adoptive guardians, family and friends, their attorney, adoptive worker and agency. Though Becky has never fostered or adopted, she has seen how much of an impact those who do make on the children being cared for by DFPS.

“I would say that fostering is not a job but a passion,” Becky said. “I would also encourage them to talk to other foster/adoptive families that have chosen this passion and encourage them to talk to see how their journey was.”