At 20-years-old today Stephanie Scott-Lucas, an adult herself, finally has what most children are born with: a family.
Scott-Lucas was one of more than thirty District-area children who were formally adopted today in a mass adoption ceremony at the DC Superior Courthouse.
"I didn't want to stay in the system forever," Scott-Lucas, who has been in and out of group and foster homes for many years said today, "it's been putting me through a lot so I'm really happy I'm adopted."
Today is National Adoption Day so Washington, D.C. joins other states celebrating the day with a ceremony. Adoptees, new moms, dads, the social workers who helped in the adoption, and the judges who oversaw the cases came out to celebrate matching a child with a forever home.
Parents signed the official decree today in front of a crowd to applause and jubilation to family members in the crowd.
"She was our daughter in our heart but she's our daughter now on paper," adoptive mother Betty Buchanan said today of the ceremony where she signed, with her new daughter by her side, her as the newest member of her family.
The pomp and circumstance of the ceremony today is important, experts say, for the transition of a child into a formal family structure.
"I think for many children who are adopted it's very much part of their identity and coming today and seeing other children who have been adopted and being able to share their stories is very important for them," Adoption Judge Julihe McKenna said today after the ceremony.
McKenna adopted a child herself nine years-ago and says the memory of the ceremony was something that helped her daughter adjust.
The event today was also intended to serve an educational purpose - to highlight the adoption process. More than 150 children in Washington currently are seeking adoptive parents. In 2011 over 180 children were adopted in one year alone.
Today as the new moms and dads walked their new son or daughter across stage, emotions ran high.
"It's just overwhelming and great," Michelle Mayes said with tears running down her face over the adoption of her new daughter who has been a foster child in her home for years, but not official until now, "we've been waiting for so long to make it forever family."
And for the kids, the transition means more than a new home, or family. For most, it also means a new last name.
Stephanie Scott-Lucas giggled while saying her now-hyphenated name out loud.
"It means strong," she said of her new name and identity. "Strength and family."