Kern County families celebrate expansions on National Adoption Day

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – November is National Adoption Awareness Month and Friday, over 30 local families became complete as their adoption processes were finalized. 

In Kern County there are over 2000 children in foster care. When one of those foster parents decides to fully commit and give a child a forever loving home, it not only gives them a family, it gives them hope for a brighter future.

Every parent at the Juvenile Justice Center who is finalizing an adoption has told themselves this day would eventually come. That is what the Smith Family told themselves until today when Ian Xavier legally became their child.

“It’s the culmination of seven, almost eight, years of wanting our own but not being able to,” Joyce Marie Smith said. “Pure joy, absolute joy; it’s what I wanted to hear for two years; it’s amazing; feels really good; all the hard work that we put in, it’s the result that we had hoped for.”

Ian Xavier’s new dad, Matthew Smith, reassures this tough journey is worth it in the end.

“Stick with it,” Matthew Smith said. “The road seems long, sometimes it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and in two-and-a-half years, which seems like a short adoption story compared to some, but it is so worth it.”

Emotions ran high inside courtroom J2, but it was a full-circle moment for the judges finalizing adoptions. Judge Wendy Avila knew firsthand the emotions in her courtroom Friday; ones she felt when she was adopted by her family.

“I don’t think they could’ve ever dreamed that the baby girl they adopted 53 years ago,” said Avila.  “Would be participating on this National Adoption Day as a Kern County Superior Judge, presiding over adoptions.”

Other families who opened their hearts and home went the extra mile for these kids.

“We adopted six today,” Stephanie Antongiovanni said.  “Four of them are siblings and that was important to us that we kept as many of the siblings together.”

The joy on the face of the new parents could serve as reason alone for considering adoption.

“Don’t be afraid,” Antongiovanni said. “We’ve fostered children that we have fallen in love with, we’ve had 49 foster children and we have fallen in love with all of them.”

The day they long-awaited came, but as Joyce Smith puts it, they “have so much to look forward to,” as “the future is endless” now that they have a toddler to call their own.

There is an ongoing need for adoptive families willing to commit long-term to children. If you are interested in adoption or how you can become a foster parent, visit the Kern County Adoption Agency’s website.

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