Smith County Adoption Day Expands 10 Texas Families
By DAYNA WORCHEL
Larry Storms, of Ben Wheeler, became an official dad to six daughters on Friday -- five of them adopted and one biological.
Storms and his wife, Krystal, adopted their five nieces at the second annual Smith County Summer Adoption Day.
There were 21 children, ranging in age from 1 to 17, adopted by 10 families, Bryan Campbell, with Smith County Young Lawyer's Association, said. The organization was a sponsor of the event.
"I'm trying not to cry," Storms said about his feelings about the adoption as he waited with his wife and daughters-to-be before they were called before Judge Carole Clark of the Smith County 321st District Court.
"It's a welcome relief to the uncertainty -- they are finally here and nothing can change -- they've been ours for so long," Mrs. Storms said of the girls, some of whom changed their first and middle names along with the new last name all were receiving.
The five girls: Jasmine, 17; Lillie, 15; Chastity, 13; Alara, 12; and Emilee, 10, join the couple's 5-year-old biological daughter Aliana. Storms, who said he will be the only man in the house now besides the family dog, said his new daughters would have had to be separated and placed in foster homes had they not been adopted.
The Martin family of Mount Vernon grew by three on Friday, with the addition of Kodi, 2; D'elaynie, 4; and Westen, 3. Jason and Christa Martin adopted the three after fostering them for 13 months.
"You can't care for them and not fall in love with them -- I have an overwhelming love for them," Mrs. Martin said with tears in her eyes. The couple adopted the three children through Arrow Child and Family Ministries.
"This is over-the-top amazing and so great to see the changes we've already seen in them," Martin said of his three new children.
The Martins also have a 9-day-old biological daughter, Avonlea, who was there for the ceremony Friday as well.
Proud parents Eric and Mandy Knittel, of Austin, added a second son to their family on Friday. The family asked that many of the details of the adoption be kept private because their new son's biological parents live in East Texas.
Mrs. Knittel said she learned of the youngster's availability for adoption through an email from a friend who was involved with the Loving Alternatives Adoption Agency in Texas. They have one daughter who was adopted at birth and one biological son.
"We were not seeking to adopt, it just sort of fell into our laps," Mrs. Knittel said. The child they adopted has lived with them for six months. He came to them from foster care.
"He became my son so long ago -- today was a formality -- he felt like my son from the beginning," Knittel said.
Mrs. Knittel said she was glad to have some finality to the situation.
"He's ours; he's adopted," she said.
There were 55 children adopted in Smith County in 2011, and 45 children currently awaiting adoption in Smith County, Shari Pulliam, media specialist of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said on Friday.
In Texas last year, 4,635 children were adopted, and more than 6,000 are waiting to be adopted this year. More than 6,000 abused and neglected children in Texas are awaiting adoption and about 60 percent of them are age 6 or older, Ms. Pulliam said. The older the child, the longer they tend to wait for adoption.
"We are asking mature, responsible Texans, why not you? Why not consider adopting an abused or neglected child?" Ms. Pulliam said. "Whether they are 7 or 17, children never outgrow the need for parents," she said.
For more information, go to www.AdoptChildren.org
or call 1-800-233-3405.