One year ago, Fort Bend County residents Laurie and Michael Byerly adopted their first son, Levi.
And on Friday, Levi’s brother Josiah joined the family.
Friday was National Adoption Day, and 25 children between the ages of 0 and 16 were adopted at the Fort Bend County Justice Center.
Child Advocates of Fort Bend decorated the third floor of the building with face painting stations, balloon animals, book giveaways and a Wizard of Oz meet and greet for the children getting adopted.
“This is fantastic,” Child Advocates CEO Ruthanne Mefford said with a smile.
“I mean it is absolutely incredible.
“This year, things have really grown. We wanted it to be a real celebration.”
Mefford said she chose the Wizard of Oz theme because Dorothy also wanted to find her family.
“It’s all about finding a forever home,” she said.
“That’s what it’s all about. These kids have gone through abuse so this is big that they’re finding families.”
Child Advocates of Fort Bend provides a voice, heals the hurt and breaks he cycle of abuse and neglect for children in Fort Bend County.
This nonprofit serves child victims of sexual and physical abuse.
“We’re the ones exposing the issues of child abuse,” Mefford said.
“We’re hearing about all these celebrities speaking out about sexual assault and they’re getting the word out. They’re raising awareness and that’s helping raise the awareness of child abuse too.
“I want children and people of all ages to feel empowered.
“There is help available. We are available.”
Set up outside of the Justice Center was a petting zoo, a bounce house, and more than a dozen motorcycles.
The motorcycles, belonging to the Bikers Against Child Abuse, showed their support by escorting children and their parents to the courtrooms before the adoption process began.
Also in attendance was Matthew Martin, organization leader of the Thankful Ones.
The Thankful Ones is a non-profit organization that provides financial support to the families in the process of adopting a child of addictive parents. The organization bring awareness to the topic of adoption and addiction and how children are affected by both.
“We’re raising money for Child Advocates of Fort Bend because we know how time consuming and costly it is to adopt,” Martin said.
“We want to help in every way we can because we don’t want children to be stuck in a situation where they don’t have a family who loves them.”
Of the 25 children adopted, seven of them were CPS adoptions, while the other 18 were products of private adoption.
“We’re strengthening our community by holding this event,” Mefford said