Today is Austin Adoption Day. The Gardner Betts Juvenile Center in Austin is festive with the Wizard of Oz theme, “There’s no place like home,” made real for many children today.
Upon entering the building (after the ubiquitous security check to which we are too immune), I approached the hallway, transformed into a yellow brick road. The tin man, the lion, the scarecrow, and Dorothy greeted children, soon-to-be adopted parents, brothers and sisters, new grandmothers and grandfathers, great uncles, friends. The little girls, dressed in fluffy pink princess dresses, their hair adorned with tiaras made at the crafts’ table, clutched their new stuffed animals, their choice from the piles and piles of them around the courtroom. The little boys, at first solemn, then silly, in button-down shirts, ties and creased pants, grinned broadly as their pictures were taken with their new parents and the judge.
The new families, some kinship, others without previous biological ties, solemnly answered the judge’s questions. The new siblings responded to her admonitions to be role models and protectors of their new brothers or sisters. Amazing warmth, joy and smiles filled the courtroom. We spectators, silently watching these most joyous proceedings, were teary eyed at the love and commitment of the new parents, seeing in an instant the formation of more complete families. I admire these men and women for accepting the legal responsibilities of parenthood “as if the mother had carried the baby for nine months.”
The judge’s words were just right: this is the best day to be a judge, seeing the joy and happiness of bringing a family together. Congratulations!
[Gardner Betts Juvenile Center, Austin, TX Adoption Day.]