On Adoption Day, the Jefferson County Courthouse, about 85 miles east of Houston, was decked out like a scene from The Wizard of Oz, ready for a celebration after the group of foster kids and their foster parents lined up outside were to be formally joined as families, according to KBMT-TV.
One of those foster kids, 16-year-old Anthony, was well past his days of playing pretend, but he was every bit as excited as the littler ones.
“I really couldn’t sleep last night,” Anthony, who officially became Anthony Berry Friday after his former teacher adopted him, told ABC News. “I told moms, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep.’ She was like, ‘I don’t think I am, either.’”
Bennie Berry was Anthony’s English teacher at Pathways Learning Center in Beaumont, according to KBMT. He didn’t think he even wanted to be adopted until he met Bennie in Nov. 2016, according to ABC News.
Never miss a local story.
But in January, he asked her to look at the state adoption web site with him.
“At first I thought he was making jokes until he actually explained the situation,” Bennie Berry told multiple news outlets. “And then we struck a deal. Finish your assignment, and you can show me the website.”
How’s that for motivation?
The 18 children adopted in Beaumont on Friday were part of what has become known as National Adoption Day, an effort celebrated in over 400 U.S. cities to find foster children forever homes and bring awareness to the more than 110,000 children in foster care throughout the country.
In Toledo, Ohio, a family of five officially came together on National Adoption Day as well, after a boy caught his 21-year-old father choking his younger brother during a domestic dispute, according to WTOL-TV. Kevin, Kingston and their little sister Ka’Liah, the newest addition to the family, are all Martins now, and celebrated the occasions in Judge Jack Puffenberger’s courtroom Friday.
In Texas alone, according to a release from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 5,395 children have been adopted in 2017, and 6,685 more are awaiting adoption.