Last year, 20,936 teens in foster care awaited adoption, but less than a quarter were welcomed into a permanent family.
That’s just one reason why 14-year-old Savannah’s adoption Wednesday was so special.
She joined her adoptive family in front of a judge on Wednesday, and told him she wanted to officially become a Larramendi. When the judge granted the adoption, applause erupted in the room.
For Savannah’s father, Ulises, finalizing the adoption was just icing on the cake. To him, she was already his daughter.
“I knew she was my daughter when she came to us in June,” Ulises said. “We’ve thought of her as our daughter since day one. God has been impacting our lives through her from that moment on. It’s an eternal thing.”
Maria and Ulises Larramendi felt God had called them to adopt a teenager, and Savannah was placed with them about six months ago, after being in the foster care system for more than two years.
Savannah described her parents as “pretty chill,” and her three older brothers as “very protective.”
“In my bio-family, I was the oldest, but now I’m the youngest, so I’m getting used to that,” she said.
Ambitious and confident, Savannah has big plans for the future.
“I want to go to college at Texas Tech and become a choir teacher, and the color guard director,” she said. “I love music, and those have always been my favorite electives in school.”
Now with the full support of a permanent family, her dreams are closer to reality than ever. Her parents couldn’t be more proud of her.
But that’s not to say there haven’t been bumps along the way. Parenting a teenage girl is always difficult, and throwing years of being in the child welfare system on top of that just adds to the challenge.
Ulises said that he and his wife both get emotional when they look at baby pictures of Savannah, wishing that they could have adopted her before she went through so much hurt and trauma. However, they trust that God put them in her life at the right time.
Ulises credits Arrow staff for helping him prepare for the difficulties of being a foster parent by being upfront about its realities.
“One thing Arrow did in every class was be brutally honest, and encouraged us to be brutally honest as well, and now I know why they do it,” Ulises said. “When Jamie (a former Arrow Family Home Developer) said ‘You need to pray this up every day,’ now we know why. But at the end of the day (Savannah’s) life has changed, and God is glorified.”