AUSTIN -- Last year, Texas removed more than 3,000 children from their homes. Many waited for years to be adopted. On Thursday, that wish came true for dozens of Travis County children.
Austin Adoption Day celebrated 47 kids who spent time in foster care due to abuse and neglect.
At the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center, the usual somber atmosphere overflowed with smiles and the laughter of little ones. The halls and courtrooms were transformed into the enchanted Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz
Anna Franco went into foster care as a toddler. On Thursday, the 16-year-old was dressed as Dorothy, but she didn't need to click her heels together to go home.
Instead, the rap of a gavel gave her a forever family. Anna said she wishes more people would open their hearts to the many children who need a place to call home.
“They have a chance at getting a family, a new start, and they can change the world for us,” she said.
In Travis County, 210 kids are still waiting to find their forever families. Some have been waiting for years.
The wait finally ended for Aramis Martinez and his brother and sister.
“It will be exciting, because I'll have a new older brother and sister, and a new mom and dad,” the 12-year-old said.
His new older sister said, “It's been a long process and we're ready to, you know, finish.”
In a courtroom filled with family and friends, tears of happiness flowed as the three children got a new last name, a fairy tale ending to their time in foster care and a new beginning.
“This town's gone through a lot in the last week or so. We've had a lot of people lose a lot, their homes, their children, their friends, their family,” said Judge Darlene Byrne, who presided over many of Thursday's adoption ceremonies. “Today, as we pause, we get to watch the magic of making a family.”
November is National Adoption Month. Thursday's event highlighted the need for foster and adoptive homes in the Austin area and beyond. There are currently more than 6,500 children in Texas waiting to be adopted.