November is National Adoption Month and for more than three dozen children in Travis County, Thursday was the day they were given forever homes.
The theme for this year's, Austin Adoption Day was “There’s no place like home.”
A makeshift yellow brick road at Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center did not lead to Kansas or Oz. For those who followed the path Thursday morning, the journey brought them to a courtroom.
The hearings that took place were celebrations for 44 children and their new families.
8-month-old Rylie was among those to get a new forever home.
She was adopted by Laurie Sparrowhawk and Chanda Pearmon. "Ever since Rylie was born we wanted to join our family, we were hoping this would be able to happen,” said Sparrowhawk.
The proceeding was also a family reunion, the couple had already adopted Rylie's two older brothers. "It’s a handful, with 3 we are now outnumbered that changes the whole family dynamic, we're learning,” said Sparrowhawk.
In Travis County there are currently 119 children waiting for adoption.
Statewide that number is just under 4,000. 52% are older kids- between the ages of 10 and 17.
Judge Darlene Byrne praised those who made this adoption day possible -- saying more people should follow their lead. "I know we have a giving community, I know we have loving families and I just ask you find it within yourself to be an answer for the 119, for the 4,000,” said Judge Byrne.
Destiny Clark's two year wait in foster care ended with Judge Byrne's magic pen, a drum roll and a hug from her grandmother who adopted Destiny.
Later, Destiny offered encouragement for those still waiting in the system.
"I pray for you, I keep you in my heart and just know you'll get there, you'll take a big step like I have and somebody will be out there to love you, somebody will be out there to hold you in their arms like everybody has for me,” said the newly adopted teen.
A promise that with help, can become a reality and no longer a wish.
Austin Adoption Day is sponsored by the Austin Bar Foundation along with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center, CASA of Travis County, Partnerships for Children, the Travis County Children's Protective Services Board, and the Travis County Office of Child Representation.