• July 14, 2020

Seven families adopt 13 children Friday - Odessa American: News

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Seven families adopt 13 children Friday

Zapatas add fourth boy to kickoff National Adoption Month

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    From left, 6-year-old Kamdyn Zapata, 6-year-old Kohen Zapata, dad Aaron Zapata, 16-year-old Brennan Zapata, listen as Julie Zapata talks about her family, with 2-year-old Kyan Zapata. The Zapata family, from Odessa, adopted Brennan. Seven families adopted 13 kids from foster care at a National Adoption Day ceremony at Crossroads Fellowship Church Friday.

Posted: Friday, November 1, 2019 3:58 pm

Aaron Zapata admitted he didn’t sleep much during the last 24 hours.

He said he kept waking up every hour in anticipation as he and wife, Julie, legally adopted their fourth boy, 16-year-old Brennan, into their family.

This marked the couple’s fourth adoption since 2015.

“Even though it was already official to us in our hearts, we knew that he was our son, but making it legal was so important,” said Aaron Zapata, the children’s pastor at Grace Christian Fellowship.

During Friday’s adoption event at CrossRoads Fellowship Church, seven families adopted 13 children.

All 13 adoptions were part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ kickoff to National Adoption Month. DFPS detailed in an email that nearly 6,100 Texas children and teens were adopted in 2018 with 1,036 of those adoptions happening in November.

The three judges who oversaw the 13 adoptions included Sara Kate Billingsley, Tracy Scown and Brooke Hendricks-Green.

“I’m super thankful that God placed us here with our kids,” Julie Zapata said.

Aaron Zapata said after adopting their third boy, the couple were holding out to adopt a girl.

However, after the Zapatas attended last year’s National Adoption Day to watch their friends finalize an adoption, Aaron Zapata said he received a phone call from DFPS that Brennan would be at their house the same day.

“When we found out about Brennan needing a family, we knew that it wasn’t about gender or age,” Zapata said. “It was about a child that needed a family. We knew that we were that family.”

The Zapatas have two 6-year-olds and a 2-year-old.

Aaron Zapata explained that Brennan has helped change their family for the better.

“Our boys now have a brother to look up to,” Zapata said. “He’s a great example for them. Our family has changed forever. Today just makes it legally official, but more than anything walking out of these doors knowing his last name is the same as ours means more than anything that I could ever hope for.”

The Zapatas weren’t the only repeat adopters on Friday.

Gabrielle Paulo, 29, and her husband, 31-year-old Antonio, expanded their family after they adopted two boys, Jacob Paulo and Sebastian Paulo. They adopted two of their children previously and they also have one biological child.

“I’ve been anticipating this day for months,” Gabrielle Paulo said. “There are people all over our community that have on shirts that say ‘We are the village.’ People from all over the United States have supported us. It has been a long awaited moment and we are very happy.”

The Paulos work with children constantly as Gabrielle Paulo is a teacher for Dallas Independent School District, while Antonio Paulo works for Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center.

“We both work with kids all day and then come home to our kids,” Gabrielle Paulo said with a smile. “Kids are our passion.”

Odessa, TX

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