The lives of 15 families have changed forever after gaining new members. Friday morning, 19 children were officially transferred into their new families on Adoption Day in Tyler.

“In November, we celebrate National Adoption Month all throughout the United States, but here in Tyler it’s a special day,” said Lori Sutton-White of the Department of Family and Protective Services. “Fifteen families have come forth and committed to provide safety and permanency for these children for the rest of their lives.”

The event took place in Green Acres Baptist Church’s Student Center. Families came at designated times to stand before a judge via a Zoom call to hear their adoption case. Those who came into the building as foster families exited as forever families.

“As of today, we have six kids, so there are eight of us total,” said Tyler mom Christie Hayes. ”We adopted a sibling group of two in 2013, so about seven years ago.”

Friday, Hayes and her husband Justin officially added 20-month old Ethan to their family. Even though Ethan had lived with them as his foster family since his birth, the Hayes family wanted to make sure that Ethan had a permanent family that would love him and take care of him.

“Ethan moved in with us straight from the hospital, he’s been with us his whole life,” said Hayes. “His biological family actually asked us if we could adopt him … They asked if they weren’t able to get him back, would we be willing to adopt him. We said that we loved him and would pray about it. And we just felt like the Lord was leading us to that.”

Hayes said that their family’s decision to start fostering was something that started before she and her husband were married. However, the couple’s involvement in foreign missions was the catalyst that showed them how much foster care was needed in the United States.

According to Hayes, children were treated better in other parts of the world than they were in the United States.

“As we saw that, we thought, ‘If they can do it, maybe we can do it?’” Hayes said.

Hayes said that those interested in fostering shouldn’t be scared to call an agency to get more information.

“I encourage people, if they feel at all like that’s something that they’re interested in, just to make the first call, take the first step to see what it would take to make your family become a foster family,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t mean that the next day that someone’s going to drop a child off at the front door. There’s a lot of steps.”

And even though, fostering changes the life of a child, Hayes says perhaps it changes the family’s life even more.

“It’s been a blessing for our family, not just for the children that have come into our home, but more so for us as we’ve gotten to raise them and love them like they are our own,” said Hayes. “I love him so much, there’s just no way I could love him more.”

Digital Multimedia Journalist

Ben Fenton is a digital multimedia journalist that has worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph since 2019. He is from Lindale, Texas and holds a Bachelors in Digital Media and a Masters in Communication.

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