For 16 years, family was simple, basic, to Shana Wood. Family meant life with her daughter.
Then she met Jax.
“I wasn’t looking to adopt a kid at 43 years old,” Wood said. Yet her family soon expanded because she saw a young man in need, and she was called to respond. “This is required by you, as a human being – not by law, not by signing a piece of paper. The boy was mine since I first saw him.”
In a Regions Bank branch in Tyler, Texas, Shana’s expanding family gathers to celebrate Adoption Day with families from across Smith County with a huge party.
Together, they share their stories, then gather as one to walk the short distance to the Smith County Courthouse. They enter the courtroom of Judge Carole Clark. Once everyone is settled, the district judge leaves the bench, joins one new family at a time and has everyone hold hands.
And, just like that, another family has expanded.
“It’s a day of joy for the families and for the children, who are getting their forever home,” Clark said.
Last year on Smith County Adoption Day, to celebrate November’s National Adoption Awareness Month, 15 children were legally welcomed into 10 new families.
In the last six years, Lloyd Brummit and his wife have fostered 40-plus children. They legally adopted two a few years ago, then recently added two more.
“Smith County is a wonderful community for the kids,” Brummit said. “You’ve got Regions Bank to come in and put on a party for them.
“And you’ve got Judge Clark. If there’s something you need, she’ll ask you — in court — do you need anything? We tell her, ‘No, Judge, we don’t need nothing. All we need is some happy kids that we give a happy home to.’”
Regions partners with the Smith County Young Lawyer’s Association each year to make certain that Adoption Day is special for each child and every new, expanding family.
For Bryan Campbell, a Trust Advisor for Regions, it’s a very personal moment.
“I feel lucky to work at a place like Regions, where we want to do more in our community, and where we are doing more in Tyler.”
Dominique Royal, a specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, knows that Adoption Day is the end of a long road for everyone.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” Royal said. “I have never seen anything like Smith County – everyone coming together, everyone doing something positive, and wanting to be a part of a special day.”
Regions support for Smith County Adoption Day comes from local support, headed by Campbell and East Texas President Chad Cargile. It also has more widespread support from Marc Angle, who serves the bank as Texas Area President.
Angle watches Adoption Day unfold, from the celebration at the bank to the moment children legally become a part of families they love.
“It’s a very emotional day,” Angle said. “Standing around and talking to these young kids, knowing they’ve been looking forward to a day like this for a long time. … I had to choke back the tears.”