JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Monday was a chance for a new life for four Johnson County kids.
Alisia, Emma, Cody, and Bradley Watson have been waiting two years for the day they could officially be a family. On March 12, that dream came true.
“I’m really excited,” Alisia said.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day about two and a half years,” Emma said.
“I knew it would come one day,” Cody said.
“Now having this, I can’t express how much I appreciate just having a family, to be loved and be with a family,” Bradley said.
The four kids, ranging in ages of 11 to 17, have always been siblings, but it hasn’t always been easy.
“Leaving from my dad’s home into foster care, those were the only people I knew, and I really wanted to be with them just to have some comfort,” Cody said.
When they went back into the system, brand new foster parents Eric and Phylis Watson opened their doors.
“We took all four of them, and it’s been really good. It’s been really great,” Eric Watson said.
“I can’t imagine what that would feel like, and being an adult, I can’t imagine, and being a child or a teen, I can’t imagine,” Phylis Watson said. “I’m just glad that we stepped up and did it.”
Thanks to the Watsons, they’re no longer foster children. They’re a family.
The courtroom was standing room only with friends, family, schoolmates and loved ones lining the walls. Judge Kathleen Sloan has been there all the way.
“The court first finds that it is very much in these beautiful children’s best interest to approve these adoptions,” Sloan told the court.
She takes a picture with kids when they first come in her courtroom, and looking back knowing what they went through, Monday was a clean slate.
“It means hope. That’s what it means,” Sloan said.
However, although the Watsons went home Monday night as a family, there are hundreds of kids waiting for a place to call home.
“To give them a home means everything to us. I would say go for it and be a help,” Eric Watson said.
“They could be somewhere right now without a family, without hope, and I say, if you think you can do it, then go for it. Change someone’s life. Help them. I think that’s great,” Cody said.
If you are not able to adopt or foster, another option is to sign up to be an advocate through your local CASA organization. Sloan said she wishes every case she worked on had an advocate and believes its something these kids need.