Christmas came early for dozens of Iowa families.
During a special event on Saturday at the Polk County Courthouse, foster parents became legal guardians.
Little Nautica brings a sparkle to the eyes of foster parents Roberto Rodriguez and his wife Esther.
They opened their home and hearts to the 19 month old child about six months ago.
“She’s very playful and she’s also very energetic. She’s a handful,” said Rodriguez.
In a court room full of beanie babies and friendly faces, Nautica’s adoption became official.
She is just one of forty children adopted during Polk County’s 12th annual Adoption Saturday.
The event cuts some of the red tape from the lengthy adoption process by opening up the court room to families.
Juvenile court judge, Connie Cohen says some adoptions can take up to a year to be finalized.
“We wanted to start our own Adoption Saturday to provide families a friendly place to invite their friends and family to celebrate adoptions,” she told Channel 13 News.
Forty children finding permanent homes is a reason to celebrate, but the work is far from over.
As of August, the county says 765 children await adoption.
“The parental rights have been terminated, there are no pending appeals and the child has resided with the petitioners for more than 180 days,” said Jude Cohen.
Nautica, however, is no longer one of those children.
She took her first “official” family photo and couldn’t wait to get home and see her brother.
“They love each other. They’re constantly playing and he’s very good with her,” said Rodriguez.