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Children Are A Gift: After years of waiting, teenager gets forever family

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TYLER (KYTX) –  Walking into the Smith County Courthouse, it's a day this East Texas teenager thought might never happen.  Holding the hand of her soon-to-be new mom, Kelly Ritch, they approach Judge Carole Clark's bench in the 241st District Court.
The attorney asks, "You are petitioning the court today to adopt a teenager. Is that correct?"  Without hesitation Kelly says, "Yes ma'am!"

Allison watches as her new mom answers a list of questions from the attorney.  Kelly, who's been a foster parent for years, makes it known that she wants this teenager to become a permanent part of their family.

"In the time you have had Allison, have you grown to love her?" asks the attorney.  Kelly resounds, "Absolutely!"

"I've been in foster care all my life so getting adopted feels really good," said Allison with a smile.

Judge Clark has seen Allison struggle in the system for years.  "She has expressed to me on many occasions that she just wants to be like everybody else."

This young lady now has that normalcy and stability of a forever family that she has always dreamed of.  "It means a lot to me. I feel like it's somewhat of a new beginning. Even though I'm 16, it's still a new beginning to me."

Allison was removed from her home at just three-years-old with her two older sisters, who have since aged-out of foster care. One of them showed up for the adoption ceremony to support Allison in the next phase of her life.

"I'm extremely excited for her," said Jamie Barnes.  "She has been wanting a family of her own for a long time since my sister and I aged-out.  I'm just glad she's got someone at 16 who will be there for her and will be there when she graduates and after wards."

Allison also now has a new little sister, Kaitlin Ritch. "I've always been an only child so I'm glad to have a sister and I'm glad to have a sister like Ali."  Kaitlin goes on to say, "I'm working on my manners and she's helping me out with that. I really love her very much. "

New bonds formed and new memories made, all thanks to a family's willingness to open their heart to a foster child.

"It was just a miracle and it was the family God wanted for her. It's just taken very long to find it," said Judge Clark.
To learn more about adoption, join Gillian Sheridan for her "Children are a Gift" report, Tuesday night on CBS 19 Ten @ 10. You can also find information on www.CBS19.tv and www.tylerpaper.com. To inquire about an East Texas child waiting to be adopted call 903-533-4109.

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