Last year I reported on Adoption Day; today I adopted my son there

Reporter becomes part of ‘forever family’ at adoption awareness event.


On Nov. 3, 2016, I walked through the doors of Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center a shell of my former self.

I was attending an uplifting event — the 15th annual Austin Adoption Day, where the city celebrates the creation of “forever families” for children being adopted out of the foster care system — but I was hurting.

The two little girls my husband and I had been foster parents to over the course of an 18-month CPS case and had, for a portion of the case, expected to adopt had just gone back to their biological mother.

At times I felt as empty as the upstairs bedroom where the girls had played, which was disturbingly quiet and void of giggles now that they were gone.

I don’t know why I decided to attend Adoption Day that morning. Maybe because I had some friends going. Maybe because I wanted to make sure I didn’t become bitter. Or maybe, and I think this is the main reason, I needed to see that happy endings were possible.

As I watched the judges declare smiling groups of once unfamiliar people “forever families,” I actually started to feel like myself again.

I talked to people. I let myself laugh. I wrote a story about the event.

None of the families I talked to that day said getting to Adoption Day was easy. But all of them said it was worth it.

Adoption Day, as it turned out, was about love and hope, sure, but also strength and perseverance.

Rather than giving up, I thought, maybe my husband and I and our two biological daughters, then 8 and 5, should try fostering again.

Soon after, we heard about an almost-4-year-old little boy who adored Batman and was in need of a home.

We decided to take a chance.

We transformed the empty bedroom upstairs into a Batcave. We bought every superhero toy we could find. And when he joined our household two days before Christmas, we celebrated.

After the excitement of the holidays was over, reality set in.

Rather than using many words to communicate, our foster son preferred to whine, a survival mechanism he must have developed after years of not being listened to.

Some of our rules were foreign to him, as were some of our traditions.

For those first few months, we rarely heard his voice.

Then, at Easter, our daughters devised a family talent show.

When it was his turn on the backyard patio stage, he beautifully and hauntingly began to recite the words to his favorite song, an Elton John classic he had discovered in the movie “Sing”: “I’m Still Standing.”

He had found his voice.

These days, we get to hear that voice every day, talking incessantly about Batman and agonizing over which flavor of Popsicle to choose.

On Thursday, he used that voice inside a courtroom at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center at the 16th annual Austin Adoption Day to tell the judge he wanted to be part of our “forever family.” Austin Adoption Day is part of a nationwide effort to celebrate families that are welcoming new members from foster care and to draw attention to the continuing need for foster and adoptive homes; we were among 30 families who adopted a total of 44 children at this year’s event.

So what is a “forever family,” anyway?

“It means I get to stay at my new house,” our son said. “Forever.”

As I watched him pose for pictures with his sisters, with whom he now shares a last name, his smile once again reminded me of Steven, the little boy I met as a child who inspired me to become a foster parent in the first place.

What a journey it’s been.

I know there will still be many times when we need to rely on strength and perseverance in addition to hope and love. But I also now know that happy endings exist.

I’m so glad I attended last year’s Adoption Day and learned that lesson. And I’m so glad to be standing here today as a “forever family.”

Most of all, I’m so glad we took a chance on a Batman-loving little boy.

And that he took a chance on us.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

5 things every parent should know about immunization
5 things every parent should know about immunization

Within the first few months of your child's life, your pediatrician will likely start talking to you about immunizations. Even if your house is stocked with hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, it's important to know what options are out there to keep your kid safe from diseases that could have harmful consequences. TheWorld Health Organization defines...
You, too, can live in Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan’s childhood home. (Strat not included.)
You, too, can live in Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan’s childhood home. (Strat not included.)

It doesn’t mean that you will be able to play “Pride and Joy” or “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” but you, too, can live in the childhood home of Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The  1,100-square-foot, 2-1 house at 2557 Glenfield Ave. in the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff is listed at $159,900. As noted by the...
Brace yourself for the Instagram posts from Austin’s first ‘immersive selfie experience’ coming in September
Brace yourself for the Instagram posts from Austin’s first ‘immersive selfie experience’ coming in September

Want to make all your Instagram followers jealous? Isn’t that what Instagram is for, anyway? Mark your calendar for an “immersive selfie experience,” visiting Austin this fall. The “FOMO Factory” lands in Austin at 702 Red River St. from Sept. 14 through Oct. 21. It’s an immersive art experience where visitors...
Fetch! Run! Hike! Sail! Swim! Raft! Jump! Paddle!
Fetch! Run! Hike! Sail! Swim! Raft! Jump! Paddle!

Outdoor adventures unfold best alongside an enthusiastic partner, including those with four feet, a wet nose and a wagging tail. When we put out a call asking for the best adventure dogs in Central Texas, we heard about pooches who love to hike, swim, sail, hunt and canoe. We’re pretty sure, in fact, that some of these dogs are living better...
A.D. Stenger home reimagined for modern family in West Lake Hills
A.D. Stenger home reimagined for modern family in West Lake Hills

Tom and Amy Brown found a charming West Lake Hills house in 2015 for the next chapter in their family’s life, but the 1961-built home needed an update. The last homeowner had lived there since 1982 and had made some changes, such as adding a wheelchair lift, enclosing a carport and adding carpet in the driveway. “It was very dated,&rdquo...
More Stories