ATTLEBORO - For kids as young as 4-year-old Wade and 3-year-old Hunter, Friday may simply have felt like a fun day off from preschool spent with their family.
Make that their forever family.
On Friday, the boys were officially adopted by Suzanne and Michael Stevens of Attleboro.
The Stevens were among 85 families that finalized adoptions of children from foster care during a statewide National Adoption Day celebration.
For Wade and Hunter, that means little change in their day-to-day lives. They've already spent a good part of their young lives in the Stevens' care.
Wade, whom Suzanne described as "really smart and really funny," will keep on playing with cars and computers, while Hunter, described as "a little love bug" will get to keep watching the sports he loves.
Suzanne and Michael, who are in their mid-40's, were not thinking about adoption when they signed up to become foster parents. Inspired by family friends who are foster parents, the couple realized they had room in their hearts and their home to care for foster children.
After completing training, rigorous background checks and an extensive home study, the Stevens got a call about Wade, their first placement, about two years ago. They believed Wade's stay would be temporary, and that he would be reunited with his birth family, as is frequently the case with foster children.
When a reunification attempt failed for Wade's brother Hunter, the Stevens agreed to take him into their home, as well. A social worker then asked the Stevens if they would consider adopting the boys.
"There was nothing to talk about. We didn't want another family to adopt them. If they couldn't go home, we wanted them home with us," Suzanne said.
The state's 12th annual National Adoption Day festivities were held at five courthouses across the state.
Kids adopted in the ceremonies held at courthouses in Boston, Brockton, Worcester, Springfield and Hadley ranged in age from infants to 16 years old.
The event was organized by Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, the state Department of Children and Families, the state's juvenile and probate courts and local adoption agencies.
While the ceremony means that 108 children have found permanent homes, there are still more than 7,000 children living in foster care in Massachusetts, alone. Most will return to their parents, but more than 800 children in the state are waiting for permanent homes.
One of the reasons that Suzanne Stevens shared her family's story was to encourage others to consider becoming foster parents.
"There are so many American kids out there who need families. They just need someplace safe to be," she said.
To learn more about adoption from foster care, visit www.mareinc.org, or call 617-54-ADOPT. For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit the state Department of Children and Families website at www.mass.gov/dcf or call 1-800-KIDS-508