ORLANDO, Fla. — Ada Cartagena and Carolina Asencio had to fight to get to this day, but now Jesse is officially theirs.
- Kids, parents take part in ceremonies on National Adoption Day
- Record 42 children adopted at Orange County event
- 21 children find 'forever homes' at event in Brevard County
"He is so inquisitive that he makes us look at the world a different way," said Asencio, his now adoptive parent, from the Orange County Courthouse during a National Adoption Day event.
Cartagena's daughter gave birth to Jesse 9 years ago. Jesse is on the autism spectrum, making his childhood even tougher. Jesse's mom struggled with drug addiction, and his father ended up in jail.
For years, the grandmothers have been fighting for Jesse's custody.
"It wasn't easy. It was like a nightmare, but we always had faith in God," Cartagena said. "We loved him since we saw him, and he was already in our hearts."
Lawyers argued in court that the couple was unfit to adopt because of their lifestyle, but they didn't give up.
Jesse celebrated his much-anticipated Adoption Day with 42 other kids. "I am glad today was part of my life, since I have been adopted and it was very fun," Jesse said.
Jesse's mother ended up dying of an overdose, and his father was deported. But Jesse has a different life ahead of him with a new set of parents who are willing to give the world for him.
"Now we are complete, absolutely complete as a family," Cartagena said. "He feels like he has a family, and we are so happy because he has brought so much joy into our lives that it's amazing."
A total of 66 children were adopted between Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
In Brevard County, a "Celebration of Adoption" event took place in Judge Charlie Crawford's courtroom in Viera.
Each family appeared before the judge to make the 21 childrens' adoptions official.
The Harper family from Mims was excited and dressed to the nines, as three new members are now a part of their home: Bentley, Emmanuel and Brycen.
"I'm really excited. We've waited a long time for this," Danielle Harper said.
The annual adoption event is sponsored by Brevard Family Partnership, the guardian ad litem program, Family Allies and IMPOWER.
More than 800 children are currently up for adoption statewide.
Brevard County Reporter Greg Pallone contributed to this article.