ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Eight St. Johns County foster children have permanent homes after a ceremony Friday to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month.
The St. Johns County Courthouse was filled with smiles as five families finalized their adoptions, giving permanent homes to eight foster children.
Judges Howard McGillin and John Alexander held the county's inaugural Adoption Day Event and reception.
Case managers and adoption specialists got emotional during the ceremony, which was a special day for Robert and Laura Ellis. They legally adopted the 1-year-old daughter of Robert's cousin, after circumstances led to the cousin losing custody.
Robert and Laura have cared for little Aubree since she was a few days old. Now she will be a permanent part of their family.
"We stepped in, and she's been a blessing for sure. She's got me wrapped around her finger,” Robert Ellis admitted.
Laura Ellis said adoption doesn't just change the child's life, but the parents' and siblings' lives, too.
“Everybody needs love, deserves love, and it helps them grow, helps us grow,” Laura Ellis said.
Love really has helped the Ellis family grow. They've adopted five children, have three biological children and have fostered more than a dozen children.
"It's stability, that you let that child know that you're going to be there no matter what,” Robert Ellis said of the importance of adoption.
St. Johns County plans to continue the adoption event every year to celebrate new families.