Fifty-five children were adopted Saturday when the Douglas County Civic Center opened its courtrooms for National Adoption Day.
“There are kids that are adopted throughout the year obviously, but this is just one kind of special day where we can all get together,” explained Rochelle Juilfs, the volunteer supervisor for CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates.
While the hearings went on, in the halls of the Civic Center were all the festivities of a grand birthday party. Princesses, Star Wars characters, Happy Faces face painters, and magician The Amazing Arthur were all on hand to entertain.
“Congratulations, I’ve signed the decree. Good luck,” the judge said to Carliyonna and Melanese Worlds. These hearings are the final step for families like Worlds. Like many, they started as a foster care arrangement.
“Through time she grew on me, and I’m like, I want this little girl, I want her, so you know I’m thankful,” said Worlds.
Melanese credits a team of specialists from agencies like Boys Town, CASA, and the Child Saving Institute with helping her through the process.
“We find that permanency, and for Carliyonna that was through adoption with Melanese in her forever home,” said Mary Mikuls with Nebraska Families Collaborative.
“Could you state for the court why you wish to adopt Hayden here on National Adoption Day,” asked the Curtis’ adoption attorney.
“She’s been with us since she turned two weeks old, and [we] couldn’t imagine our life without her,” answered Hayden’s adoptive mother.
While Hayden’s family celebrates her new adoptive birthday, Brendan Wubbels down the hall gets a two-for-one special.
His family, friends, former foster families, case workers, and teachers all came out to witness his final adoption hearing and sing happy birthday.
“This is a great day that we’re gaining a son and it’s also his 13th birthday, so that makes it even more special,” said Heidi Wubbels, Brendan’s mother.
Brendan spent seven years in foster care before finding a home with the Wubbels.
“It was kind of frightening. It was like, move everywhere, like you stay somewhere for a little while and then you move again,” said Brendan.
“From the moment we met Brendan we knew he was our son and we loved him, so this is a big day,” said Heidi.
“So many of our kids spent years in the foster system without really having that foundation of a family and so to have this many kids and this big of a turnout is a really great thing for us to see,” said Juilfs.