LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Six East Texas families welcomed their newest members at the 11th annual Adoption Day Celebration in Angelina County.
"Adoption day is the pinnacle of all the hard work that everybody puts in to take care of these kids," Angelina County Judge Derek Flournoy said.
It was an emotional day inside of the Angelina County Courthouse, however many tears were of joy.
"It's the light at the end of the tunnel from an emotional roller-coaster," adoptee, Blanca Sanchez said.
Six families adopted 12children, which is the largest National Adoption day in Angelina County to date.
"It is a long process, but to finally get here and to see that the children have permeant loving homes, and committed families, is extraordinary," adoption supervisor, Kelli Slaga said.
For all of these families, they said the process was long, but the reward was worth it.
"When he got out of the car and he looked at me for the first time and said I love you daddy, it was worth it," Adoption day Spotlight family recipient, Christopher Barley said. "I just sat there in front of the school and cried."
"My daughter is happy to be an older sister," Sanchez said. "She's always wanted to be an older sister. We're just blessed to be parents again."
"We had to get together and pray and seek God," Kent Driggers, who adopted his niece's four children said. "Whenever they run to you and say I love you daddy and I love you momma, that's when it changes for us. It changes from being caregivers to mom and dad."
For the last 5 years Flournoy has been a part of this process. Finalizing adoptions to children who have been in the system for years.
"I just dealt with so many of these people that I work with, CASA, The Department of Family Services, and all of the attorneys," Flournoy said. "We put in a lot of time in together."
Although this is his last time he'll be granting adoptions Flournoy said he still plans to help families in need.
"I won't be creating the parent child relationship anymore, but I'll hopefully still be instrumental in making that happen," Flournoy said.
With more than 6,000 children in Texas looking for their forever family, many who adopted hope their story will influence someone to do the same.
"We'd gone through so much that when it finally happened it just felt surreal," Barley said. "Like we were finally able to take a breath."
"We're just blessed to be a part of their lives, but we also realize that if this had not happened it wouldn't have opened our eyes to what is happening in our country and in the world," Driggers said.
For more information on how you can adopt a child into your family click here.