DAYTONA BEACH — Serena Lapp remembers when her now-7-year-old son Tobin used to carry a bag of Hot Wheels around like it was his “security blanket.”
A few months after the foster child came to live with the Lapp family, he began to throw away the toy cars one-by-one into the trash can, until one day, Tobin didn’t need his security blanket at all.
“I think it was his process of settling into safety,” Lapp said. “It was a way to visually see that he was starting to feel safe where he was at.”
On Friday, more than two years after Tobin brought that bag of cars into the Lapp’s Orange City home, the family finalized Tobin’s adoption was among those for 17 children and eight families at the Plaza Resort and Spa in celebration of “National Adoption Day.”
Adoptions through the foster care system are typically closed to the public, but one day every year Community Partnership for Children, the lead child welfare agency in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties, and the 7th Judicial Circuit open the proceedings to the public.
This year included a larger group of families than usual, said Ludi Lelis, court communications officer. According to Community Partnership, there are more than 100,000 foster children nationwide waiting to be adopted. To put it in perspective, that’s about the population of Flagler County.
A video played on a loop before the ceremony began Friday showing pictures of some of the 800 children statewide that are still waiting for their “forever families.”
“It still surprises me every day the way I feel about him,” Lapp said about Tobin. “I was one of those people who didn’t understand how you could feel about a kid that wasn’t yours. It’s not different with Tobin — he’s mine.”
Lapp, 36, and her husband, Alan, 43, have two biological children, Kaley, 14, and Jonathan, 16, Tobin and two foster children living with them, as well.
Friday marked the beginning of a new journey for the family, but while smiles and tears of joy filled the room, Lapp said the road to making Tobin an official member of their family was not always so cheerful.
Tobin came into their lives when he was…
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