JEFFERSON COUNTY, Texas — Dressed and Santa Clause and Buddy the Elf, two Jefferson County judges finalized multiple adoptions Friday morning.
A few families in Jefferson County have an extra reason to be thankful this holiday season. Judge Larry Thorne and Judge Randy Shelton finalized 15 adoptions.
The Jefferson County Courthouse was turned into a winter wonderland, making the already special day that much more memorable for everyone involved. Children walked in as foster children and walked out with their forever families.
"That's what this is about is making families, putting them back together, putting them together, and making families for life," Judge Thorne said.
Judge Thorne has been performing adoptions for the last 24 years in Jefferson County. Friday’s adoption ceremony was his 22nd one and also his last one.
He is retiring as the 317th court judge.
Judge Thorne called "Adoption Day'" the highlight of his career. During his time in the judge's seat, he has finalized 191 adoptions to 129 loving families.
The Loveladys are one of those families.
"This is a blessing from god," Monika Lovelady said. "Because we literally only wanted to adopt one child, but it ended up being that god blessed us with multiples, which was three, so that was a blessing."
Another family made whole was the Lowery family. The family has been fostering 13-year-old Brooklyn and 11-year-old Gage for two years.
"This just makes it a put an exclamation point to it," Barry Lowery. "These are presents in twos."
More than 5,000 Texas children who were abused or neglected were adopted from state care in 2021. Texas DFPS representatives said more children enter the foster care system in Texas every day, so the need for families to provide children in state care with safe and loving homes has not diminished.
Anyone considering adoption is encouraged to visit adoptchildren.org to learn more.