Eight families and twelve children finalized their adoptions on live television as part of the Today Show’s “Choosing Adoption” series. The honorable Judge Martha Walsh was on hand to stress the urgent need of over 100,000 children in our foster care system waiting for forever families. Judge Walsh began an annual event in her own upstate New York community to promote awareness of the growing needs of foster care children and to encourage more families to consider adoption. She smiled when revealing her somewhat unusual tradition in the courtroom—she rings a bell every time an adoption is final. “It’s much more appropriate than banging the gavel” she said and reminded viewers it’s “in the spirit of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ when Clarence gets his wings. We thought the bell would symbolize the creation of a forever family.”

One of the families featured, the McIntyres , welcomed 1 1/2 year old Chase who joins the couples three biological and four previously adopted children. They explained that it was their oldest three biological children who expressed a desire for more siblings and were very involved in the decision to adopt little Chase. Mark McIntyre told about the day they all congregated as a family to make the final decision . “We had a family meeting at Denny’s to vote—’is this what we want to do?’ It was a unanimous yes!” Christina, the oldest McIntyre child added “It’s been a very humbling experience. I love the kids. They just fit right into the family.”

A local photographer was on hand to capture the moment when Judge Walsh asked all the families to respond “All in favor, say aye” and a thunderous “aye” was given. Bells started ringing and smiles erupted as twelve joyful children heard what they’d been waiting so long to hear. “Congratulations, it’s official. You have a forever family!”