M iguel Salinas had the same name for 12 years until Friday, when he became Miguel Jaramillo.
“It sounds more Mexican, and I like that,” Miguel said with a smile while eating doughnuts.
There is a deeper meaning to that name change, as Miguel and his 14-year-old sister, Karla, became two of the 16 children adopted during Brazoria County Adoption Day.
County-Court-At-Law No. 3 Judge Jeremy Warren hosted the families and their numerous supporters in his courtroom, though other judges performed adoptions at the same time to make the families official as quickly as possible.
Moises Jaramillo and Alma Jaramillo, of Texas City, have had Miguel and Karla in their home for three years, Moises Jaramillo said, along with 7-year-old Alex and 8-year-old Alexis, whom the parents adopted in August 2018.
“We never had kids … so we just decided to give it a shot,” Moises Jaramillo said.
From the day they began fostering Miguel and Karla three years ago, they knew they would be eligible for adoption, he said. The kids had been dropped off at their grandparents’ house when they were very young, then had no one to take care of them when their grandma died, he said.
The day they came into the Jaramillo home, they asked if Moises Jaramillo would be their dad, he said.
“It was a long time coming,” he said of the adoption.
The kids fit right in, Moises Jaramillo said. Alex and Alexis have picked up on Spanish and now speak it fluently since it is Alma Jaramillo’s primary language, he said.
Miguel is a “Little Moises” and has the same likes, including eggs over easy and Spam with grilled onions, his father said.
The kids are very appreciative in the Jaramillo home, he said, and every “good night” and “thank you” means so much to the parents.
Miguel remembers life before he went to live with the Jaramillos, he said, adding that he would have to sit inside and watch television, never going outside.
“I like going outside and playing,” he said. “It was kind of like the first actual home I’ve had.”
This was the first Brazoria County Adoption Day since 2015, Warren said. In the past few years, the county hasn’t had any cases and was heavily dependent on Child Protective Services to provide a list, he said.
This year, CPS, Bikers Against Child Abuse, Angleton Exchange Club, Brazoria County Alliance for Children, Counseling Connections, Gulf Coast CASA and the district attorney’s office donated toys, blankets, gift cards and other items to welcome the children to their official families.
“It’s the happiest day for the families and the children,” Warren said, adding that it’s an amazing experience.
Tapatha Richard, adoptions program director for CPS, said the day takes a lot of preparation but is very fulfilling. It’s especially gratifying to see siblings adopted into the same family, she said.
“We try to keep our sibling groups together, because that’s their biological connection,” Richard said.
Children come into foster care for a variety of reasons, she said, and adoption is a happy ending to that.
“This is their birthday, this is their Christmas all over again,” Richard said.
Warren teared up as he finalized the adoption of CJ Erickson to his stepfather, Jake Allen, changing CJ’s last name to Allen. Warren knows CJ through baseball and was privileged to grant the adoption, he said.
The Brazoswood freshman kept it cool before the adoption, saying “yeah, he’s good” about Jake Allen, but he teared up as Warren completed the adoption.
CJ’s mother, Chelsea Allen, said it will be easier for the family to have the same last name.
Kailin and Ben Craft of Lake Jackson officially adopted 7-year-old McKenzie and 4-year-old Christopher.
“Today for us is just making official what we’ve felt for three years,” Kailin Craft said.
The couple were led to adopt because they saw the need in their community and had the resources to help, she said.
After the adoption, the last name changes but the love stays the same, Kailin Craft said.
Sean Wirth and Megan Ryan of Clear Lake, who are getting married in February, officially adopted Ryan’s niece, Harper. The 2-year-old has lived with the couple since she was 3 months old, Wirth said.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I don’t think anything is going to change.”
Wirth and Ryan’s family and friends surprised the couple by showing up in shirts that read “We are the village,” since it takes a village to raise a child, Wirth said.
Though they have abounding support, Harper is officially their daughter, he said.
“Over time we just fell in love with her and realized we needed to keep her forever,” Wirth said.