CHICAGO - Several Cook County families are a bit bigger after a special adoption ceremony Friday morning.
It took just moments in front of a judge to get the adoptions finalized, but lives are now changed forever.
"I'm happy now. My baby is in my life forever now," said Julisa Green as she adopted the 15-year-old girl she's cared for since she was a baby.
The Circuit Court of Cook County opened normally private ceremonies to celebrate National Adoption Day and highlight the need for more families to open their homes.
"Yes, foster care is great, but this is the permanency that we're embracing here today and the love and the caring and the compassion that comes from a permanent home is what's being established here today," said Chief Judge Timothy Evans.
Cook County lowered adoption fees from $265 to $89, trying to make adoption a bit easier and match the pricing in many collar counties.
"So today is about more than good public policy. We're proud to celebrate with families who walked the long road for adopting children in need of homes," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
Again and again, FOX 32 Chicago watched families get a bit bigger, at least on paper. In practice, they've been together for years.
A huge extended family gathered in matching shirts to welcome the newest member of the Hickey clan. David and Jim Hickey adopted their son, Franklin, six years ago. They now say their family is complete with 4-year-old Maddie.
"For me, it's just paperwork because she's been our daughter the whole time. But it's nice. We tell her she gets to change her name and have the same last name as us, and it's another reason to celebrate," said Jim.
An already powerful bond now made permanent.
"One of the most important jobs that any of us can ever have is being a parent. And today we celebrate all of those who have opened their hearts and their homes to people and to the children," Judge Rena Marie Van Tine said.