Adoptions kick off National Adoption Awareness Month in Pinellas, Pasco counties

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month, which is dedicated to shining a light on the almost 117,000 children in the foster care system who desperately need forever homes.

There are more than 2,000 children in the Pinellas and Pasco County foster care systems, alone.

However, on Friday, there was cause for celebration inside the Pasco County Courthouse as 16 of those kids were officially adopted into loving homes.

For 3-year-old Taelyn and 20-month-old twins Arabella and Michael, Friday marked the end of their foster care journey and the beginning of the rest of their lives as official members of the Shelton family.

Amanda and Michael Shelton already have two grown daughters of their own. The toddler years are ones they thought they would never have to revisit.

"We said we were only going to foster, but it's tough. You get attached," said Amanda Shelton. "These three are special. I couldn't imagine life without them."

The family said their three babies were the missing pieces to their family's puzzle.

"These little ones are stuck with us. They were meant to be," said Michael Shelton.

As of Friday, the Shelton family is now complete. They will head back to their full home with even fuller hearts.

Throughout the remainder of the month of November, two other adoption day celebrations will also be held in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.