GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Right now in Gwinnett County, alone, there are 380 children in the foster care system. As of Monday, 16 of those children found their forever homes and had their adoptions finalized during Gwinnett County's first-ever Adoption Day celebration.
Like 19-month-old, Paisley Orr.
"She's the one that made us parents -made us mommy and daddy," Jason Orr said.
The process started more than a year and a half ago, just days after Paisley was born.
"Day 4 we started visiting her in the NICU in Gainesville, and she came home with us Day 7, and we've had her ever since. It's just been amazing," Orr said.
As families received their final adoption papers, they rang a bell to mark the occasion.
"We saw children being adopted out of foster care, we saw stepparent adoptions, we saw relative adoptions," Clerk of Court Tiana Garner said.
Garner hopes more families see the need for hundreds of other children still waiting to be adopted.
"The children range from birth to 17 or 18 years old so there's no one size fits all," Garner said.
Adoption Attorney Ina Cook said they are also looking for homes for children from other countries.
"Anyone who is willing to give their home and open it up and love on these kids," Cook said.
Cook was also recognized during the event after she recently received a Congressional award for her work to reform policies for undocumented children in the system.
"(This event), it just puts the spotlight on adoption and people that have been thinking about it... they're in their house thinking I might do that one day, this lets them know, no, no you can do it now, so the day is now," Cook said.
Other adoptive families were on hand to celebrate, like Jennifer and Ishmael Johnson, who have 11 children and have fostered 19 over the last few years.
"It's amazing what can do and what we've been able to do, and what all of these kids have brought to us and I see with my own kids- the effect fostering has had on them, and I just encourage people to do it," Jennifer Johnson said.
The process can take many months and the Orrs actually had another baby during that time.
"That was definitely not expected at all, but Paisley is the best big sister," Orr said.
But it's time, they say, that was well worth the wait.
"It doesn't take blood to make family," Orr said.
Any family interested in fostering or adopting should reach out to their local Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Office to start the process or click here.