Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

At Annual Holiday Adoption Event In Jacksonville Judge Is Reminded ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’

Allie, Matt and the rest of their family at the Duval County Courthouse Wednesday morning.

It’s always a joyous occasion when children are placed with their forever families through adoption.

But it’s that much more meaningful when kids get the news they’ll be adopted just in time for the holidays.

As babies whined and adults wiped tears from their eyes Wednesday, Judge David Gooding explained how Frank Capra’s classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, relates to the work of finalizing adoptions.

Gooding, who presides over this annual adoption event called “Home for the Holidays,” said the film’s main character, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, figures out life is better lived as part of a family, no matter the circumstances.

“The future where George does not become part of a family, is bleak, and dark, and angry, and sad.  The future where George becomes a Bailey is not perfect – children still get sick, bannister finials come off in your hand, and arguments occur – but the future where George finds his family is a whole lot better,” he said.

And Gooding said it’s not just good for George to become a Bailey, but it works out better for the whole community.

Allie and Matt, who didn’t want to use their last names, are sure their new one-year-old daughter Hayden will eventually come to the same conclusion. Allie had this message for people considering being foster or forever parents.

“The benefits outweigh all the ups and downs and the emotional. Just what you give to the kids. Even if we wouldn't have kept her, just the attachment and the bonding she got was so important for the first few weeks and months of her life. I think it’s a great thing.”

Allie and Matt said they fostered Hayden before falling head over heels and deciding they wanted to be her legal parents. In total, 12 families were united just under a week before Christmas. 

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.