Nov. 26—By Brad Kellar
One day each November, the district courtrooms at the Hunt County Courthouse are filled with individuals, including the judges, wearing masks and capes.
The unusual wardrobe is standard issue during the local observance of National Adoption Day.
This year's event, with the theme of "Calling All Super Heroes," was conducted in the 196th District Court and was sponsored by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Hunt County.
Presiding over the proceedings were 196th District Court Judge Andrew "Batman" Bench and 354th District Court Judge Keli "Wonder Woman" Aiken.
The courtroom was packed for the occasion, with many of those in attendance also dressed appropriately, including the attorneys, CASA volunteer advocates CPS workers, representatives of the Hunt County Child Welfare Board, and the everyday heroes who are police officers and firefighters.
During each adoption, a judge asks the adoptive parents, an attorney representing the new parents and most importantly the children who will be adopted a few questions to make sure everyone was on board and in agreement.
National Adoption Day is annually observed on or near the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for permanent, loving families across the country.
This year, Hunt County hosted the event on the afternoon of Nov. 4, when 12 families officially added one or more members.
The Saenz family formally adopted Anaiya, 2, whom they had been fostering since she was about six months old.
"What a blessing you are going to be for your family," Bench said as he formally granted the adoption.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges in district courts who are hearing cases regarding allegations of child abuse and neglect. The appointees are assigned to meet and visit with the children and to act on their behalf when it comes time for the cases to go to court.
CASA was established in Hunt County in 2000 and is one of more than 900 such agencies across the United States. The agency is currently seeking new volunteers.
Those seeking additional information can contact CASA at 903-450-4410.