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Four Elkhart Co. foster kids celebrate National Adoption Day with new families

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Being a kid can sometimes be tough, but that journey can be even harder if you've been in and out of the foster care system. For four children in Elkhart County, today was their chance at happily ever after. Though all of their lives have been relatively short, today was a long time coming.

Normally Elkhart County Juvenile Magistrate's courtroom is filled with anticipation. Today, is no different, but this time, it's a happy occasion. The glow coming off of 7-year-old Kaitlyn's face says it all. She's been a part of the Smart family for two years as their foster child. Now, it's official. The Smarts are adopting her.

"Kaitlyn brings many wonderful things. She's just full of joy, laughs, happiness. She brings a lot to our family. A lot of just...fun," said Keri Smart, Kaitlyn's foster mom.

For Magistrate Domine, adoption day is a welcome break from the cases she normally sees.

"Often, we see tragedy. Often, the endings aren't so happy. But in adoptions, there are happy occasions because every child needs a family and today, they're getting that family," said Domine.

Kaitlyn isn't the only one getting a new last name. The Wagners are also taking the plunge. They're adopting their three grandchildren.

"For me, the biggest thing is closure. We've been going through court hearings for the last four years since they have been taken from their mom with D.C.S. and it's nice that we can be done," said Teresa Wagner, the children's biological grandmother.

Often times, children in the foster care system haven't had the easiest journeys. Their parents often step in and out, and sometimes, are not even around at all. Though it's families like the Wagners and the Smarts, who have stepped up to fill the gap.

"It's a wonderful thing to be able to do for these kids. They need a loving, they all need a loving, safe, home," said Smart.

"Sadly, there are a lot of kids out there who never get adopted, who become adults without a family, so these occasions are certainly worth celebrating," said Domine.

The adoption is the end of these kids' past and just a picture into their future.

To learn more about adopting a child: https://www.in.gov/dcs/2984.htm

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