22 kids adopted in Hennepin County on National Adoption Day

To mark National Adoption Day on Saturday, the Juvenile Justice Center opened its doors in Minneapolis to hold hearings and place nearly two dozen kids with new families.

Saturday, 22 kids were adopted, with some going to new families and others joining families they’ve known all along.

When Jacquelyn Williams walked into the Juvenile Justice Center Saturday morning, she walked in as an aunt to her two nieces. But, she left with a new role to the 12 and 17-year-old girls.

"I plan on raising them like my kids, like I’ve been doing," said Williams. "Same way I raise my daughter and son; I’m going to raise them the same way."

Darlynisha and Robernay have been living with Jacquelyn and her son and daughter for over a year. When it came time to adopt, there was no question: Jacquelyn would make them an even closer part of her family.

"It was kind of an emergency, so it was like either you do or you don’t," said Williams. "At the time I felt like it was the right thing to do, and it was only the right thing for me to do."

"I don’t have to be with nobody that I don’t know," explained Robernay. "I can be with my family that I know."

Their story is one that’s becoming more and more common in Minnesota.

“When you don’t do that, you often find out from adoptees that there is a missing piece," said Hennepin County Supervisor of Adoptions Angela Marks. "And when they can be adopted by family... it’s not missing any longer."

According to Marks, when people like Jacquelyn adopt members of their family, the trauma of the loss is lessened and the ties of the family are preserved.

"It keeps them in the same culture," Marks says. "It keeps them connected with their extended families. It keeps them connected with their communities and that is important."

There are still 135 children and teens in the county that are looking for families, and 905 kids across the state.