Family and Juvenile Court celebrates National Adoption Day

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Two-year-old Malik Mayes Hallmark squirmed and wriggled as he legally became a part of Donald Ray and Pia Hallmark’s family

Friday.

That was OK, Judge Guy Bradberry joked with the youngster and his family. The boy was better behaved than many lawyers who

come through the court, he said.

It was a light-hearted and celebratory day as Family and Juvenile Court celebrated National Adoption Day, which is Saturday,

with 11 adoptions.

“Not only did you open your heart and

home to this baby, but now you’ve changed this child’s life,” Bradberry

told the Hallmarks.

“Thank you.”

“We believe all children deserve a

permanent and safe home for the rest of their lives and parents who will

love them unconditionally,”

said Judge Lilynn Cutrer.

The Hallmarks have two children they previously adopted, said Pia, who also has two adult biological children.

“After I had kids, I had cancer and the choice of having more children was taken away from me,” she said. “I just had to wait

until mine grew up and at the age of 47 or 48, I started all over.”

In fact, it was Pia’s daughter, Heidi Flick, who first encouraged the Hallmarks to foster children.

“I went into it to help my daughter, but I fell in love with the children when they came to my house,” Pia said.

Flick’s husband, Eric, had three kids, but Heidi wanted more and they decided to foster and adopt children.

“We can’t have children of our own,” Heidi said. “I always wanted a big family and now we have seven kids. There are children

out there that need to be loved and taken care of.”

Eric, the fourth of five children himself, said, “There’s never a dull moment. They’re good kids. Most kids who come into

foster care are not bad kids.”

The whole brood was at the courthouse Friday to celebrate the adoption and all were wearing superhero-themed clothing. Malik

is a fan of superheroes, and Heidi comes up with a theme for each time another family adoption becomes official, Pia said.

The Hallmarks chose to keep Malik’s last name, Mayes, as his middle name so that it would be easier for his biological family

to contact him in the future.

Although Family Court is usually closed to the public, the Hallmarks agreed to allow media in the courtroom. It was the third

adoption for the Hallmarks, who first had Malik as a foster child.