It’s a day when tears are flowing in a Ventura County courtroom.
But, they aren’t tears of sorrow. They are tears of joy, because it’s adoption day.
Julie and Ray Clayton are at the Ventura County Juvenile Courthouse, in El Rio to finalize the adoption of Anthony Clayton. The little boy is only three and a half, but he’s lived through a lot just to get to this point. He was born with a drug addiction, because his mother was addicted.
Ray Clayton admits this along awaited day is a bit overwhelming. The Simi Valley couple already had a biological daughter, 14 year old Bailey, and she’s excited that Anthony, who has for all intent has been her brother, will now be it legally.
Hundreds of kids are currently in foster care systems on the Central and South Coasts. Some of them may eventually be returned to their parents. But, others will not. Many of them will end up in foster care, and the fortunate ones will end up in new homes.
It’s a very different tone in the halls of this courthouse on this day. Usually, the benches are filled with young criminal offenders, and their families waiting for court hearings. Today, though there’s more than 150 people, many carrying presents and balloons to celebrate adoptions being finalized.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Tari Cody is performing the adoptions finalizations, and says it’s a day everyone who works at the courthouse looks forward to, because of the joy it brings. The courtroom takes on a much different look for the ceremonies, with stuffed animals on all the counters, and a big plate of cookies on a desk counter where a defendant might normally be sitting.
As families wait outside of the courtroom for their big moment, Paul Castenada is busy trying to corral a rambunctious 15 month old who’s running around the hallway: The soon to be new dad says while Nico can be a handful, he’s a happy little boy. Castenada says Nico’s back story is heartbreaking, but they are thrilled to give him a fresh start at life. He says the boy’s mother had a drug habit, and Nico ended up in two foster homes before they were able to get him.
Family after family goes through the process, many after years of effort.
Finally, it’s time for the Clayton family, as Judge Cody calls parents Ray and Julie Claton foreward, along with daughter Baily, and their soon to be official son, three and a half year old Anthony. As the cameras click, and the tears fall, the lives of the Clayton family, and especially their newest member, Anthony, change forever.