The Tarrant County Family Law Center was filled with hugs, giggles, laughter, tears of joy and superheroes as children took the main stage on Nov. 17.
In total, 61 Tarrant County children experienced their most memorable Thanksgiving season ever when they joined their new forever families. They learned what it feels like to have a mother and father, grandparents, aunts and uncles – and maybe even brothers and sisters – of their own.
In each case, foster parents became their new parents. The children had been living with these foster parents from six months to several years as they waited to be adopted. Everyone was ready to create these new family ties.
Dozens of legal professionals joined with judges and staff from the courts and the county clerk’s office, along with Child Protective Services, to make Tarrant County Adoption Day an event filled with superheroes in costume and superheroes in deed as they performed magic in these children’s lives.
If there was anything odd about Adoption Day, it was the way this one Friday turned the traditional notion of a day in court on its head. The new families were the only “side,” and there were no adversaries. Nobody made a negative statement about another party. This was a day of collaboration.
Some families wore T-shirts or hero capes welcoming the children into their new families. Truly, this was a day for fortunate children and caring parents to take the final, and most meaningful, step to becoming permanently bonded as families. This was a day of celebration for all involved, a day when children received infinite amounts of the love they craved so intensely. Tears were shed, lives were completed, and everyone experienced a strong reminder that family matters – a lot.
People started arriving at 6 a.m. because, naturally, they would never be late for “Forever Family Friday,” as I like to call it. Since the Tarrant County Family Law Center opened early, officers from the Sheriff’s Department joined us early as well.
I first became involved with Tarrant County Adoption Day 10 years ago, and since 2007 I have had the pleasure of chairing or co-chairing this life-changing event three times. I have left each event with tremendous admiration for the adopting families, and this occasion still reminds me that family is one of the bedrocks of a happy life.
Tarrant County Adoption Day 2017 once again featured an impressive cast of heroic figures, from Wonder Woman, Batman, Batgirl and Spiderman to Supergirl, Superman, Black Widow and Thor. Some roamed the halls of the Family Law Center, while others were assigned to any one of the seven courtrooms dedicated to adoptions. Patch the Clown was also on hand to make balloon animals, and the little boys and girls squealed with delight when they saw him twist and turn ordinary balloons into extraordinary works of animal art.
Every child received a cape so that he or she, too, could become a superhero for a day. They also received stuffed animals and books. All parties – from court workers to families and volunteers –were treated to donated breakfast snacks.
By the way, I asked clients and members of the Southlake Chamber of Commerce to donate plush toys, and local businesses combined with Carroll Independent School District teachers and students to donate over 120 teddy bears. Seeing such generosity touched my heart!
On this day, many of us were professionals-turned-volunteers. My staff and I closed our office to donate our time, and many other attorneys’ offices did the same. Our volunteer photographers captured poignant moments when families were being cemented forever. For those of us in the legal profession, our job was to provide counsel to children and adults by helping them to define expectations and understand the joys and challenges that await them.
Most attorneys work one adoption case on Tarrant County Adoption Day and many of us work two or three.
We all wore something red to represent National Adoption Day and the futures we were helping to shape. The Tarrant County Adoption Day committee presented a Yeti tumbler to each judge, and I continued my tradition of giving a new Cross pen to each adopted child. The pen will help them literally make their mark in this world, but it also will recall the transformational moment when they witnessed so many people coming together to give them a more promising future.
The only compensation we requested was a chance to witness these heartwarming events in real time. Children beamed with mile-wide smiles as their previously broken lives settled on a path toward happiness, and new parents welled up with tears as they tied their futures so inexorably to kids who can now share their love forever. It was a beautiful occasion, one that I look forward to each year, and that’s why you’ll find me at the Tarrant County Family Law Center again next year on Tarrant Adoption Day 2018.
We are grateful for the leadership and financial support that the Tarrant County Bar Foundation provides for Tarrant County Adoption Day. The Tarrant County Bar Association received its own Adoption Day proclamation from the Tarrant County Commissioners Court as it showed its continued support of this event.
Leslie Starr Barrows is the founding attorney of The Barrows Firm in Southlake. http://barrowsfirm.com/