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Law school to facilitate adoptions

Nov. 19, 2010

By Carmen Galvan
Staff Writer

Twenty-six children will be legally adopted by families from McLennan County and its surrounding areas Saturday as part of National Adoption Day.

The event is organized through a joint effort of the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Baylor School of Law, as well as the Baylor Public Interest Legal Society, a student organization dedicated to service.

Bridget Fuselier, associate professor at the law school and one of the primary organizers for the event, said this is the law school's third year to host the event and that it is one of the ways law students become involved in the community.

"When I took over as sponsor for the public interest society, they were wondering how to get involved, and I told them about National Adoption Day," Fuselier said. "I approached Family Protective Services and asked if we could host an event and they were very excited."

Seven lawyers and a judge will work pro bono for the families participating in the event, and Judge Gary Coley said he was looking forward to the event as he has presided over each of the children's hearings.

"It's a privilege," Coley said. "I get the opportunity to see these kids join a new environment. I've seen these kids through some really difficult circumstances and so it's exciting to see over two dozen be adopted."

The adoption event will take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center. Coley will first hear the cases, and once the hearing ends the child and his or her family will enter a separate room where an employee of the Department of Family and Protective Services will take the family's first family portrait, said Andrea Barnett, adoption supervisor for the Department of Family and Protective Services and an organizer for the event.

Each of the families will also receive a basket with "Toy Story" themed items because this year's theme for the event is "A Family's Love is to Infinity and Beyond." Families will receive items such as a small cake, "Toy Story 3" DVD, coloring books, games and other family-oriented items.

A Baylor law student is expected to dress as the character Buzz Lightyear and members of the Kappa Omega Tau fraternity will perform a short skit from their Pigskin Revue show "The Toys are Back." Baylor Athletics will also be participating by sending Bruiser Bear to entertain and take pictures with the kids, Fusilier said.

Julie Moody, public information officer with the Department of Family and Protective Services, said that the event is an opportunity to raise awareness for adoption because there are 77 children in the McLennan County area and more than 5,900 children statewide waiting to be adopted.

Barnett emphasized the need to adopt children from the local area.

"It's a positive thing to take children out of the foster care system and putting them in a permanent home and giving them a second chance," Barnett said. "We hope that the word will get out to families that there are children waiting to be adopted and that you don't have to go out of state or out of the country to adopt. They're here too."

Moody said it's a positive feeling knowing the children are being adopted.

"I can tell you it's a wonderful feeling to know that these children finally have something in their life that is stable and that they know it's their true home. It's very rewarding," Moody said.