The state contracts with some private adoption agencies to find a permanent homes for their children. In return, the state will pay the agency a fee. However, the state ran out of money in April and can't pay for any more adoptions till it's new budget starts in September. In order to make sure adoptions in East Texas continue, some private adoption agencies are waiving, or reducing, their fees. This is a story of how that paid off for a local girl.
12 year old Tamera is all too familiar with courtrooms. She was thrust into the legal system after being removed from her home two years ago. "She was a scared and frightened girl," says Wanda Miles with Christian Services of East Texas. That private adoption agency placed Tamera in the local foster home of Suzanna and Kevin. There was an instant connection. Suzanna says, "After about the second day I asked her, `Didn't she want to live with us?'" Tamera adds, "It's been exciting and I always look forward to each day."
The more time they spent together, the more they grew together as a family. "Tamera is absolutely the perfect one for us. She's a little sunshine," says Suzanna with a smile. Kevin says, "She's called me Dad for quit a while." Tamera explains, "They helped me through my problems and when I'm sad they'll cheer me up. I just love them."
Suzanna and Kevin knew in their heart this young girl was to be their daughter. So, they began the process through a private adoption agency in East Texas, Christian Services of East Texas. But the state ran out of money and couldn't pay the agency's fee. The couple didn't go away disappointed. The agency waived it's fee, clearing the way for the adoption to become final. "It's a wonderful feeling to be able to help a family. There are some families who dream about this all their life and they can never have children. What greater gift can you give someone," says Wanda.
The day was finally here for Tamera to officially get the Gift of Love. Appearing in a Rusk courtroom together, the judge asks Kevin, "How would you describe your relationship with Tamera?" Kevin replies, "It's been good, pleasant, fun. I don't know what we would do without her." The judge turns to Tamera, "How do you feel about mom and dad?" Tamera answers, "I have grown really close to them and I love them as my own parents." The judge adds, "Do you believe it's in your best interest to have the court grant this adoption?" Tamera says with a big smile, "Yes sir."
Then, it was time for the moment Tamera had long been praying for. The judge announced to the court, "You are now officially a family." There was a thunderous applause from her new family filling the room. Overwhelmed with joy Suzanna says, "She means the world to me. She has made me a mommy. She has taught me a lot about love and forgiveness and happiness." Kevin adds, "She's my little girl. She's mine. She looks like me. Our hair even matches."
With tears of joy running down her face, Tamera begins a new chapter in her life with her forever family. "I'm happy that I found my special home," she says. Her new mom sincerely adds, "We're just so grateful to God for our little blessing."
If you'd like to know more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call our Gift of Love hotline. The toll-free number is 1-888-kids-275.