AUSTIN, Texas -- For 39 children in the Austin area, their search for a forever family ended on Thursday. All of them had their adoptions finalized at the 18th annual Austin Adoption Day.
- Austin Adoption Day held November 7
- 39 children adopted in all
- Still a great need for adoptive parents
The Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center in South Austin was packed with parents and children - as well as stuffed animals - all in courtrooms to testify as to why aspiring parents should be granted custody of the children they've been fostering now for more than a year.
The Chavez family grew by eight, after the adoption of their grandchildren was signed off on by Associate Judge Aurora Martinez Jones. Jones handed each child and parent a personalized gift to mark the joyous occasion.
For the Roberson/Ingram family, their adoption story is one that's come full-circle. A child they met years before would change everything they thought they knew about family.
Four-year-old Jakobe was born with special needs, requiring special medical care. Tameeka Ingram was one of the in-home nurses that helped care for baby Jakobe. Ingram may have saved the young boy's life.
"I would drive all the way to Killeen to take care of him," said Ingram. "And all of a sudden the door wouldn't be answered when I would go up there - but you could hear that there was somebody there."
Ingram would end up notifying the agency she worked for. Soon after, Jakobe was placed in state custody.
Nearly two years later, Ingram got a chance to change Jakobe's life again. She received a phone call asking if she and her husband would be willing to adopt Jakobe.
"My reaction was an immediate yes, but I was like - well I do have to go home and talk to my husband?" Ingram said while laughing. "When I got home that night, I talked to my husband and he was like - yes."
Travis County District Court Judge Darlene Byrne made it official, signing her name to a "certificate of family membership," uniting Jakobe with his new parents under the eyes of the law.
Smiles and tears of joy are expected at the yearly event, but the day also serves as a heartbreaking reminder of the thousands of children across the state of Texas still waiting on their forever family. Right now, nearly 3,200 children are awaiting adoption out of the state's foster care system, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
"Just this year alone, 680-plus children in this county were removed from their homes because they were abused or neglected by the very people that were there to love them and take care of them," Judge Byrne lamented.
While many of the nearly 700 children removed by DFPS in Travis County have eventually been reunited with their parents, there are currently 69 children in the Austin area that were not, and are still waiting to meet their new parents.
If you'd like to learn more about adoption in Texas, you can visit www.adoptchildren.org.