DENTON COUNTY, Texas — A former "Wednesday's Child" in foster care for more than eight years is headed to a forever home near Houston today thanks to a court-appointed advocate who didn't give up on him, and thanks to the two dads willing to call him their own.
When we first met him he was an 11-year-old named Thomas. His situation was difficult. He is one of eight siblings. The youngest three, their biological parents' rights terminated due to serious neglect, were in separate foster homes. Thomas had lived in 12 different foster homes.
But in February, and now 13, someone finally called his name. And as they celebrated National Adoption Month at the Denton County Courthouse, he arrived with Andy and J.J., two dads from Conroe near Houston who had always wanted to be parents and who wanted to take in an older child, which are often the last to be considered adopted by other families.
"There are so many kids, so many wonderful kids out there, who are just looking for a home and forever family," J.J. said on Friday. "Such great rewards and it's just wonderful to have him as part of our family."
Thomas, who told Judge Derbha Jones he would prefer to be called Oliver now, was among 13 children adopted by different families on Friday at the Denton County adoption event. As of this year, 94 adoptions have taken place in Denton County, 859 in Dallas-Fort Worth and 4,586 statewide.
As for Oliver, first in line in Jones' courtroom, which was lined with stuffed animals especially for the occasion, he was asked if he would, in addition to accepting Andy and J.J. as his dads, accept and care for the four dogs and one cat at his new home too.
"Do you take Annika, Banner, Chewie, Carra, and Ziggy as your forever pets?" he was asked. Everyone in the courtroom laughed as he said yes.
"The adoption is therefore granted, and congratulations," Jones said as the families embraced and the courtroom broke into applause.
Oliver comes from a difficult situation. He is the last of his siblings to find adoptive parents. But many of those siblings, along with their adoptive parents, were in the courtroom too. They will tell you this is one big extended family now. His court-appointed special advocate, who also couldn't hold back her tears, spent the past eight years trying to find a family willing to adopt Oliver.
"I get to this one who is willing to love him and care for him the rest of his life and he wants this, he wants them. He chose them. And that's who he wants to be with forever," said Julie Reiff.
Oliver didn't much like getting his picture taken on Friday. He did his best, comically, to avoid the WFAA camera in the courtroom. But he did grant us one brief conversation for one important question.
"Are you happier about the dads or the dogs?" I asked him of the new family he'd been given.
"Both," he answered.
"Good answer, good answer," his dads laughed.
"Is there anything else you'd like to do because I know you love being on camera so much?" I asked Oliver.
"No. Peace," he said.
"Alright. Peace out," I told him as he retreated from the camera again.
And with that, in celebration of National Adoption Month, Oliver was finally headed home.