CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — This November will be remembered by 11 local kids and their new families.
On Friday, it was Adoption Day at the Nueces County Courthouse, an annual tradition that celebrates the creation of new families, ahead of the holiday season.
Judge Timothy McCoy presided over the adoption docket in court and online.
Relatives and friends who attended in person captured many photos of the day new parents made a promise to their adopted kids.
Their promise is a lifelong commitment to care for them and love them for the rest of their life. Even though the celebration was filled with many happy moments, it was also an emotional time for Sarita Llamas.
"It's been a long time coming," she said tearfully.
She and her husband officially adopted four children who were their foster kids, seven-year-old Alex, six-year-old Ezra, five-year-old Tristan-Luis, and four-year-old Kimberly Grace.
According to Llamas, the children's birth parents had their rights terminated.
The moment she signed papers and swore to in front of witnesses and the judge, Llamas said they were counting all the days and cherishing every second.
"They've been with us 1,379 days," said Llamas. "We love it. We have a lot of fun. Our house is never dull."
Her family now has two reasons to celebrate the 18th of November. It's also Alex's birthday, on adoption day he turned seven years old and he received the gift of a lifetime.
We spoke with another parent who already experienced fatherhood once before.
Perry Mailes has a son who is now an adult in the military. However, in recent years, he said there were three young children who needed a parent in their lives.
"When they came into our lives we weren't expecting it. They were my brother's, and he was in and out of jail." Mailes explained.
He adopted his brother's two twins in 2020. Friday was their baby brother's turn to join the family. Even though it seems like he has his hands full once again, his heart is also full. He said parenthood is always worth it.
"It's been a blessing," said Mailes.
November is National Adoption Awareness month and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services wants to raise awareness for the need of foster and adoptive parents.
As of the end of September 2021, there are 281 South Texas children legally free for adoption and 2,902 children statewide, ranging in age from newborn to 17 years. Each of these adoptable children is looking to become a part of a loving family.
For more information on becoming a foster and/or adoptive parent, log onto the web here or call 1-800-233-3405.
The prospective foster/adoptive parents may be single or married and must:
- at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults,
- complete an application (staff will assist you if you prefer),
- Share information regarding their background and lifestyle,
- provide relative and non-relative references,
- show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable),
- agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members,
- allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household, and
- attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children.
The training provides an opportunity for the family and DFPS to assess whether foster care or adoption is best for the family. The family may withdraw from the meetings at any time. There is no charge for the meetings. Foster/adoptive parents generally train together.
Additional Foster Care Requirements
In addition to the basic requirements, foster parents must:
- have adequate sleeping space.
- allow no more than 6 children in the home including your own children or children for whom you provide daycare.
- agree to a nonphysical discipline policy.
- permit fire, health, and safety inspections of the home.
- vaccinate all pets.
- obtain and maintain CPR/First Aid Certification.
- obtain TB testing as required by the local Health Department for household members.
- attend 20 hours or more of training each year.