This is a special day for families across the country, including here in East Texas. It's National Adoption Day. Ten local children got their "forever families" today. We were in the courtroom as these children received the Gift of Love.
One by one the families gathered, anxious to change a child's life. "I'm so glad you are all here. What a glorious day," said Judge Carole Clark.
This is the second year Judge clark has held National Adoption Day in her Smith County court. "Some of the roads that are ending today are very long and so I'm grateful to everyone in the parts they play."
Then, with hearts full of love, the families began approaching her bench. The Wheeler family is no stranger to this courtroom. They adopted their first child, Brittany, two years ago. "When we adopted this first one it made me happy, so, we decided we'd try adopting two more," says Ross Wheeler.
Today, 4 year old Avante and 3 year old Landon became part of their family, too. With tears filling up her eyes Paula Wheeler says, "They are my world. They give me joy, strength, just everything."
Stacy and Les Crawley are foster parents. Four year old Lauren and nine month old Jonathan were placed in their home. "Lauren crawled in my arms and called me Daddy. I was sunk that moment on." And at that moment, they knew these were meant to be their children. Today they made it official.
"This is probably bigger than when we got married. This is probably the biggest thing in our life. We can't imagine our lives now without them," says Les.
"It's like filling a hole that you never knew was there. You know you never knew there was a hole but once you get the kids, it's like it completes everything," says Stacy.
While today is a dream come true for these families, thousands of children still wait. Judge Clark hopes they too will soon be in the arms of loving parents.
Before the court proceedings began, a proclamation was read from Tyler Mayor Joey Seeber declaring today "National Adoption Day" in the city, raising awareness and encouraging others to help foster and adopt children.
There was also a big celebration in Gregg County today as they took part in National Adoption Day. Three more foster children received their forever families in Judge Sage's courtroom.
Children were treated to cake and balloons but the greatest gift they received today was love.
Laverne Russell of Marshall adopted two children in Longview today. "I don't think that there's a word in the dictionary that can compare to how you feel when you adopt a child, and you take them in as your own. I love her with all my heart. There's nothing I wouldn't do for A-Laya or Avion."
Karman Russell adopted a two year old boy named Michael. "There are so many children out there that need loving families, and God provided us with loving children and an opportunity to adopt a child that was in need."
National Adoption Day is also a time to highlight the need for more adoptive parents. If you'd like information on fostering or adopting, call our Gift of Love hotline. The toll free number is 1-888-kids-275.