Susan Granger Tyler was feeling faint.
Standing in a hall of the Galveston County Justice Center, she was minutes from adding a new member to her family — a 10-year-old boy named Andrew.
She was almost giddy.
“He fits right into our family,” she said. “He walked in from Day One and I think he thought ‘This is where I belong.’”
Over the next few minutes, her family, who all wore blue and white “Team Andrew” shirts, would stand before 306th District Court Judge Anne Darring and swear to take full responsibility for Andrew — as if he had been born to them.
They would officially confirm his name change, and hear from social workers who affirmed to the court that he was going to a good home.
With a signature, Darring confirmed Andrew’s adoption.
It was the end of long journey for Granger Tyler and her husband, Seth Tyler, who decided to try to adopt a child years ago; and for Andrew, who had lived in multiple foster homes, and had even come close to being adopted once before, only to be left alone.
Saturday was National Adoption Day, and scenes like Andrew’s adoption played out more than a dozen times in Galveston and hundreds more times across the United States.
There has been an Adoption Day event in Galveston every year since 2004.
On Saturday, 20 children were officially adopted by 14 families during procedures at the courthouse.
Organizers work to make the day a celebration for the adopted children, and their families. There was face painting and carnival food and a bounce house set up in what is usually the jury assembly room.
Each adopted child also gets a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus — who bring personalized gifts — and a teddy bear.
There are more than 16,000 children in the Texas foster care system, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. There are more than 120 children in foster care in Galveston County alone.
The Adoption Day event is important because it helps families save some money from what can be an expensive process. Attorneys, social workers and judges work pro bono to help clear the final hurdles.
The event isn’t just special to the families, said Doryn Glenn, chairwoman of the Adoption Day event and a board member for the Galveston County Adoption Day Foundation. The volunteers often have close bonds with the adoptive families and the children being adopted, making it an emotional day for everyone.
“It’s the best thing that any of us have ever had the honor of being involved in,” Glenn said.