23 Kids find forever homes in PBC's Adoption Day

23 Kids find forever homes in PBC's Adoption Day

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There are 1,600 children in foster care in Palm Beach County right now.

Most days, it's a struggle to find good homes for those kids.
But Friday was a different story as Palm Beach County joined the rest of the nation to celebrate Adoption Day.

Families adopted 23 foster children in a huge ceremony at the county courthouse.

While it was a celebration, Palm Beach County still places last in the state in finding foster homes for teenagers.

"I finally have a complete family and it makes me want to cry," said 14-year old Karla Swick.

It was a special day for Karla, officially becoming adopted by her new mom and dad.

"Don and I have never had children, so this is extra special for us," said Karla's mother, Kim Swick. "This is the best day of my life."

Karla came to West Palm Beach from Texas with her mother, who suffered from drug abuse. Nearly two years ago, Karla entered the county's foster system, which is run by ChildNet.

"We have more children now than we've had and even though we've grown our inventory of foster homes, it hasn't grown enough to keep up," said Larry Rein, ChildNet executive director.

That's where the Martinez family steps in. They adopted 12 kids over the years.

On Friday, they were honored with the Jim Sackett Award, named after the longtime NewsChannel 5 anchor for his work on Thursday's Child.

"They've taught us how to love, how to forgive. Especially that unconditional love that they have," said Daily Martinez.

Rein said one of the most common reasons for children to end up in foster care in Palm Beach County is substance abuse by the parents.

"We've had a lot of infants coming in because they've been testing positive for substance abuse at birth," he said.

And he says teenagers are the hardest to adopt out.

"Often times, by the time they're teenagers, they have more needs," Rein said.

For Karla, it was tough to open up.

"She didn't even make eye contact she barely spoke and as time went on, we've just gotten closer and closer and it's as if she's my own daughter," said Kim Swick.

But horses on the foster family's farm helped break the ice.

"The first time I heard her blurt the word 'Dad' out, it really hit home for me," said Don Swick.

And when a judge made the adoption official on Friday, Karla went home to a forever family.

"I love them like my own mom and dad," said Karla.

The foster care system costs the state money and although the legislature has pumped out more money in the last several years, it's still not enough.

This year is the highest number of foster children the state has ever seen and the funding is not matching that increase.

There are several groups that rely on community donations to support foster children and families. Click here to see how you can help each organization.

Scripps Only Content 2016