By Claire Cameron
Families will grow at the Baylor School of Law on Adoption Day.
The law school will host its sixth annual Adoption Day from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday at the law school.
Saturday is National Adoption Day, the day courthouses across the nation finalize adoptions for families who have already gone through the adoption process and are just waiting to sign the papers.
This year 17 families and 26 children from McLennan County will go through the final stage of the adoption process.
Bridget Fuselier, professor of law, started the event on campus.
“In the past it was held at the courthouse in Waco, but it wasn’t much of a celebration, so here at the law school, we wanted to be able to have more of a celebratory atmosphere for the families, especially when this is such a special day for them,” Fuselier said.
She said this event it is a great way to raise awareness in the surrounding community.
“This event is so great because it recognizes foster care programs and families looking to adopt and the event helps celebrate those families who are giving something so significant to these kids,” Fuselier said.
Families will come to the law school, where Room 127 will be set up as an actual courtroom. The families have their last official hearings in the room where they will sign the finalizing adoption papers.
Judge Gary Coley will preside over the hearings and sign the papers.
“I have been doing this with the law school from the start,” Coley said. “Baylor does a really great job of embracing this event and the students do a great job of making this a special day for these families.”
This year, the theme for the event is Wizard of Oz . It is called “There’s No Place like Home.”
Houston second-year law student Bethany Rumford helped organize the event this year and said she is looking forward to seeing the families enjoy the day.
“Every year, this event grows and more families come through to adopt children,” Rumford said. “Going through the adoption process is long to make sure children get placed in a good home, and this is the last step in the process. It’s so great to get so many adoptions done in one day.”
Refreshments, a buffet and entertainment for the kids will be available in the law lounge on the first floor of the law school.
“I know some of the law students are dressing up as characters from the Wizard of Oz,” Rumford said. “There will be a tin man, a lion, Glinda the Good Witch, and, of course, Dorothy.”
Coley said he likes to let the kids come up and bang the gavel to finalize their adoption.
“Most of the children getting adopted are kids who were placed in foster care by Child Protective Services,” Coley said. “They have been neglected, abused or both, and as a judge, I see most of these cases in the beginning, so to see it come to a conclusion and see these children’s lives change is amazing.”
Fuselier said this year Bruiser the Baylor mascot will be there to greet kids and the yell leaders will also be at the event.
“I love being part of this event because it highlights the importance for families to foster and adopt children,” Rumford said. “One special thing we do is that we take the first official family portrait of everyone all together after their hearing.”
Fuselier said she hopes to see this event continue to grow.
“It’s so important to celebrate what these families are doing,” Fuselier said. “There are so many children who need families and the more people who know about it the better.”
Coley said he also hopes the event will raise community awareness across central Texas.
“There are surrounding counties who know about what a great job Baylor does with this event, but more important than that is the chance to get the word out about the children in our community who need good families to love them and support them and give them a chance to start over and have a new, better life,” Coley said.