Children adopted into Jacksonville families ahead of Mother's Day

Some became mothers for the first time

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five children were adopted into Jacksonville families Friday, and some of their parents became mothers for the first time -- just two days ahead of Mother's Day.

It's an event Duval County Circuit Judge David Gooding holds each year in time for Mother's Day. While some parents were welcoming their first additional member to the family, others were expanding their troop and couldn't be happier.

One of four families making an adoption is the Lewis family. Kristen Lewis is the new mother of Grayson and Brooklyn, who they've been caring for since February. Friday, they were thrilled to make it official.

"Grayson, he is just so sweet. He throws his arms up at you and hugs you -- he melts my heart," Lewis said. "And Brooklyn -- she has such a cute personality. She's the same age as our youngest daughter."

Emmarae, a 6-month-old, met her adoptive parents just 72 hours after she was born.

And the Thomas family adopted a 10-month-old. Her new father said she is his wife's biological niece.

Judge Gooding is passionate about the event, which he holds yearly just before Mother's Day.



"Where do you go if you don't have family for Mother's Day," Gooding questioned. "For Father's Day? For Christmas? For Thanksgiving Day?"

Gooding continued, "Where do you go to celebrate births and mourn deaths if you don't have family? Everybody has got to have family."

According to Gooding, if a child ages out of foster care without becoming adopted, they are four times more likely to end up in the adult criminal system and considerably more likely to be homeless before age 21.

Gooding said he has personally been part of about 4,000 adoptions over the years.  All of the adoptions Friday were made possible with the help of Family Support Services of Northeast Florida Inc.

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