With love, nine children officially join forever homes

Published 10:27 am Saturday, November 16, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


It may have been chilly outside Friday morning, but it was a luau inside a courtroom at the Orange County Courthouse.

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian party or feast usually accompanied by entertainment was the festive way for nine children to officially become members of their forever homes as adoption proceedings were finalized.

November is National Adoption Month and many children statewide are hoping to find their forever families.  Throughout this month, special activities and events are taking place across the state to help highlight the need for adoptive parents.  Texas continues its search for adoptive parents who are willing to open their hearts and homes for children of all ages—from newborn babies to teenagers.  Some of these children have special medical, physical, or emotional needs, however, their biggest need is that of a loving, forever home, according to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 125,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States.

On November 18, 2000, the coalition and the Freddie Mac Foundation encouraged nine cities to open their courts on or around the Saturday before Thanksgiving to finalize and celebrate adoptions from foster care.

The first National Adoption Day was inspired by the innovative efforts of Michael Nash, a former presiding judge of Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Court. He opened the court on Saturdays, engaged the volunteer efforts of court personnel and finalized adoptions to reduce the backlog of one of the busiest courts in the nation, according to its official website.

Amanda and Shelby Haacker-Hunt were among the new parents on Friday as they officially adopted their two children.

The children, not named at the parent’s request, have lived with Amanda and Shelby for a little over a year and a half as foster children as they awaited for the big day. They were not alone as aunts, uncles and grandparents surrounded the family to show support and love to the newest additions to the family.

A great grandmother traveled from Florida to be a part of the ceremony.

“I witness them grow as a family,” County Court at Law Judge Mandy White-Roger said. “I am happy to be able to declare the adoption.”

White said adoption days are the best days to celebrate.

“As judges, it is usually not a happy situation we reside over,” White said. “Judges enjoy adoption day.”

White also thanked those from the DA’s office, CASA and others who helped turned the courtroom into a luau for the children.

Those interested in becoming a foster-to-adopt parent can log onto to the www.adoptchildren.org website.  This website provides information on where to attend an adoption meeting and it spells out the requirements to become a foster-to-adopt parent. The website also features many of the children who are legally free for adoption and who want their very own forever home. Short bios and photographs are included.

The process begins with attending an Adoption Information meeting, where after a short presentation, prospective parents can ask questions about the process that can forever change the life of a child.

During the past fiscal year, more than 6,000 Texas children found their forever families.

If you think you can be a forever parent for a child in Texas, please visit www.adoptchildren.org or call toll-free 1-800-233-3405 for more information.