SAN ANTONIO – Anyone in the jury room of the Bexar County Courthouse on Friday could feel the joy and see the miles-wide smiles as the adoptions of 23 children became official in a mass adoption ceremony.
Among them was a boy 17 years old -- an age at which officials say is uncommon to be adopted.
But for Lacey and Melvin Bartlett, Michael Reser was the perfect fit.
"He's officially and forevermore a part of our family," Lacey Bartlett said. "Its life-changing."
At first, Reser wasn't sure he wanted to be adopted. In fact, a family was interested in adopting him last year, but he declined.
Reser then met the Bartletts and their son, Jimmy.
"I fell in love with their family, and I met Jimmy later on on a visit and would love to be his bigger brother," Reser said.
Eighteen children and their new families gathered to hear a judge call their name and say, "The adoption is granted."
As each of the 18 names was called, the crowd, including 13-month-old Carlos Longoria, cheered and applauded.
"We didn't change his life. He changed ours," said Alma Longoria, who, along with her husband, Serapio, officially adopted Carlos.
"We got a call and they told us that there was a three-week-old baby ready for a home, and we said, 'Yes,'" Longoria said. "And he showed up at our doorstep at 8 p.m. We've loved him ever since."
Babies, toddlers and teenagers all belong to a family now, after the words "The adoption is granted."
"He's staying with us forever," Longoria said.
"He completed us," Lacey Bartlett said.
November is National Adoption Month.
For more information about how to foster or adopt a child, click here.