Austin Adoption Day brought together 24 new families at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center on Thursday, November 1. Sponsored by the Austin Bar Foundation, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and several others, the event put 51 foster care children into “forever families.”

The day was one of celebration as the justice center became an enchanted Emerald City, decorated with a balloon rainbow, yellow brick road, costumed characters, and hundreds of stuffed animals on each judge’s dais.

“These families will realize their goal of adoption, while enjoying a day filled with love, hope, some tears, and many smiles. It is a day to celebrate these children and families while also creating an awareness of hundreds of children still waiting to find their forever homes in the Region 7 (Central Texas) area,” Holly Benningfield, the Region 7 post-adoption liaison for the Department of Family and Protective Services, said in a press release.

Austin Adoption Day, along with National Adoption Month in November, is part of a nationwide effort to celebrate families welcoming new members from foster care and to bring attention to the need for foster and adoptive homes. Awaiting adoption in Texas are 3,754 children, including 122 in Travis County.