After spending years wading through temporary homes in the foster system – some for most of their lives – 28 children were adopted into permanent homes today during legal proceedings at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center on South Congress Avenue. It is one of dozens of events taking place across the state during National Adoption Month.
One of the adoptees was 18-year-old Alexander Wells, a teenager who had been removed from his biological family twice and had changed foster homes many times, according to a state official. Wells was smiling throughout the adoption proceeding as he sat next to his new mother and answered questions from their family attorney, Denise Hyde.
“Why is it important for Judge Hathaway to legally make you their child?” Hyde asked Wells.
“This is my new forever family,” he responded. “I get to come home for Christmas. I get to come home for all the holidays. It’s a place where I get to have a solid ground to come home to, a solid place. A home that I can call mine now.”
Finding permanent homes for teenagers is often more difficult than placing young children, but they need parental support too, said Stefenie White, a regional program manager for Child Protective Services. She says there are advantages to adopting older children.
“When you adopt an older child, you know what you’re going to get. They usually will consent to the adoption. They want to be a part of the family,” White said. “I need my mom and I’m 45 years old, so you can’t really be old enough for that.”
In Travis County, 172 children were adopted last fiscal year. But almost the same number, 158, are currently waiting to be adopted. Statewide, the number of children seeking adoption is approaching 6,400.