As National Adoption Month kicked off Friday, nine children in Brazos County officially joined their forever families during the county’s 12th annual Adoption Day.

“We are so lucky to have these kiddos. They change us for the good,” Bekah Weirich said moments before new son, Jose, officially joined the family.

The 5-year-old is the fourth child adopted by Bekah and John Weirich since 2006.

At first, they became adoptive parents to grow their family. Then, they saw the need for foster parents and began fostering.

“We all share a bond of how our families have been knitted together,” she said about the five other families who adopted children Friday. “But also I think it’s good because it draws attention to a really amazing way to grow families.”

The Weiriches’ biological daughter — Madelyn, 17 — said it can be sad to be a foster home because not all the children who enter their home stay with them, but it can also be a special to love another brother and sister.

“All of them have their own stories and their own personalities,” the oldest Weirich child said.

Judge Steve Smith looks forward to Adoption Day every year, he said.

“Today’s the day judges love, because it’s one of the very few things we get to do where everyone in the courtroom is happy with the outcome, including the judge,” Smith said. “And it’s an honor to be asked. I have, I think, a unique perspective among our judges being an adopted child.”

Smith was only a few days old when he was taken in by his adoptive parents, telling his story to the six families and many other supporters, volunteers and county staff members in the courtroom Friday afternoon.

“I know what kind of impact you’re going to have on the children you’re adopting,” he told the families. “Some of them are old enough to realize what’s going on; some of them have no clue what blessing they’re getting today, and I hope that over time, you’ll be able to share with them my story and how thankful I was that Bill and Maxine decided to adopt me. It’s made all the difference in my life.”

Craig Reagan said his family was adding a third child — Sofia, who will turn 2 in January. She is the half-sister of their 13-year-old twin boys, Jacob and Benjamin, who were adopted at the first Adoption Day in 2007.

“To be able to give this gift to the boys of their half-sister and to add her to our family, she completes us,” Reagan’s wife, Nancy, said.

Their sons always wanted a sister, Craig Reagan said, but it was Sofia’s connection with them that led the family to open their home to her when she was 5 months old.

Noting he has ALS, Reagan said, “had it been any other 5-month-old, we would have said no because of our age and condition, but we couldn’t deny the boys that chance.”

Deborah Kay Bonner was the first adoption granted Friday, as she officially became the adoptive mother to her three grandchildren, Taliyha, Jessiah and Markel.

“It’s a blessing to be able to get them,” Bonner said. The trio had stayed with her off and on since they were born, but they have been living with her for the past two and a half years.

“We’re one family now,” she said.

While Adoption Day showcases the happy outcomes of adoptions, Brazos County Adoptions Supervisor Tiffany Stewart said, the purpose is also to raise awareness of the 3,199 other children in Texas who are still in the foster care system.

Mary Walker, acting media specialist for Region 7 of the Department of Family and Protective Services, said her favorite moment of adoption events is when the judge officially grants the adoptions and any accompanying name changes.

At that moment, she said, they no longer belong to the state, but they are part of their family.

“That is just incredible,” she said, noting the joy the adopted children and adoptive parents bring to each other’s lives.

Joshua, the first child Bekah and John Weirich adopted in 2006, said his favorite quote comes from Lilo and Stitch: “Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind.”

The 15-year-old makes a slight change to the Disney line, saying, “Ohana means family, and family means forever.”

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