FORT WORTH -- Michael Gus Scott can still remember hearing his father in the crowd, yelling "Go Michael go" at a track meet more than four years ago.At the time, Roderick Scott of Kennedale wasn't his legal father, but that didn't matter to Michael."I thought of him as my father back then," said Michael, now 16.On Friday, it became official.As part of National Adoption Day, Michael was among the oldest of 73 children adopted at the Tarrant County Family Center on Friday morning.Children with special needs were adopted, grandparents adopted grandchildren, and a father and grown son both adopted children during the busy morning in a courtroom filled with balloons, teddy bears and smiles.To Roderick Scott, Michael became his son not long after he moved in as a foster child at age 9."I knew five years ago that I wanted to adopt him as my son but it wasn't simple," said Roderick Scott, a single father. "I told him regardless of what happened he could consider me as his father. That was never going to change."Before the adoption could take place, Michael's parents had to relinquish parental rights, and the case hit a snag when a caseworker planned on letting Michael "age out" of the system and become an adult without parents.Three siblings were adopted in Florida, but Michael didn't want to leave Texas.At the adoption ceremony, Michael posed with the judge and smiled as he grabbed one of the stuffed animals provided for all the children adopted Friday.After the ceremony, he just seemed relieved."I've been waiting for this for a long time," said Michael, who plans to go to college after high school.In one Arlington family, a father, Oscar Perez, and his grown son, Oscar Perez Jr., adopted 5-year-old girls Friday.The families began exploring adoption when Oscar Perez Jr.'s wife, Deven Womack-Perez, helped her in-laws learn about becoming foster parents and eventually took the next step to adopt children.Last year, they adopted Romeo, now 5; and this year Oscar Perez Sr. and his wife, Irma, adopted a 5-year-old girl, renaming her Mariaisabel Noemi Perez for a clean break from a difficult past."She asked if she can bury her old name so I told her we could have a little ceremony when we get home," Irma Perez said.When she came to them as a foster child at age 3, there were issues with trust."This happy little girl is not the girl that came to our home," Irma Perez said. "It was very difficult. But now when she gets up in the morning and she's happy. She's healthy. She wants to go to college like my older daughter and be a nurse."She will be part of a blended family of six: two biological children, two adopted children and two foster children who have even more relatives next door, where Oscar Perez Jr. lives.The Perez Jr. family adopted Jasmine Jane Reyna Perez, 5, who has cerebral palsy.She will also be part of a blended family, of seven children: three biological, one adopted and three foster.The large family was once an obstacle."They wanted her with a single parent so she could get more attention," Deven Womack-Perez said. "But she started responding and doing better with us so they eventually came around. She's been doing great and just loves my husband. She's so attached to him."Tarrant County Family Law Judge Jean Boyd said she hopes National Adoption Day inspires others to consider adopting or becoming foster parents."The need is still there," Boyd said. "This is a great day but we hope people will read about this in the paper or see it on TV and want to get involved. Imagine being a teenager and becoming an adult and not having any parents."Though more children were adopted Friday in Tarrant County than on any National Adoption Day since they began in 2000, many children are waiting.As of September, Tarrant County had 881 children in foster care, 208 of whom hope to be adopted. Nationally, 107,000 children are in foster care, officials say.Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698Twitter: @fwhanna
How to help
Anyone interested in adopting a child or serving as a foster parent can call the recruitment hotline at 800-228-UCAN (228-8226).