Friday, April 25, 2014
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Bell County Bar Assoc. receives award for Adoption Day

Special to the Journal

 Recently, representatives of the Bell County Bar Association attended the State Bar Annual meeting in Dallas. During the awards lunch, the Bell County Bar Association received a ‘Stars of Bars’ Merit award for its Adoption Day events. Executive Directors Cindi Parker and Cynthia Champion  were present with State Bar President Buck Files to receiving the award.

Since 2009, Bell County has participated in National Adoption Day events held throughout the State of Texas and the nation and have formalized more than 90 adoptions. A large percentage of Bar members participate in the yearly events by donating funds to help offset the cost, or by allowing their staff to assist on the day of the event.

 

The local bar has been greatly impacted and blessed by this event every year since its inception. While not directly working on the project, attorneys who are at the courthouse on the day of the event get to see the overall joy on the faces of both the adopting families and the children who are placed in their “Forever Homes”. Many of those attorneys later volunteer to provide pro bono counsel for families looking to formalize CPS adoptions.

The public is educated on the adoption process, as well as on the need for foster families and the great number of children who are still in need of foster homes and, eventually, adopting families. Families who are formalizing their adoptions know first-hand what the system is designed to do, and how important the legal profession is in creating these families.

The “No Place Like Home” theme is based on the Wizard of Oz movie. Children whose adoptions are formalized on Adoption Day are treated to a magical courtroom complete with balloons and streamers, a yellow brick road, and Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, as well as Glenda the Good Witch. Every child receives a gift basket of age-appropriate toys and keepsakes, including a heart-shaped locket (for the girls) and a dog-tag necklace (for the boys) personalized with his or her new family name. Every family also receives a pop-up 3-D Wizard of Oz storybook autographed by the Judges. Local school children are thrilled to provide adoption-themed, “No Place Like Home” posters that decorate the hallways. New parents receive carnations and boutonnières. A local photographer memorializes the event by donating a “first official family photo” following each ceremony. Cake and punch and “Adoption Day” cookies are provided for every family.

Both print and television media are invited to attend the celebration, and the events have received local recognition in both local newspapers and on local news casts. The media coverage helps educate the public on the need for foster families and makes them aware that attorneys and Judges are only too happy to donate their time and efforts in assisting with these adoptions.

The project can easily be replicated by contacting local CPS offices and CPS attorneys. Adoption case workers are thrilled to allow these children, most of whom come from abused or neglected homes, to be made a part of a forever family. Nearly all decorations can either be made or rented, and many items are donated by local businesses