HARLINGEN — Diane Nichols and Gilbert Rivera have adopted their sixth son, Henrie Trevor Rivera, 17, three days before his 18th birthday.
Child Protective Services and The Bear Foundation worked together night and day leading up to the adoption day to see this through before he turned 18. They even worked through the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Harlingen couple traveled to Corpus Christi on Thursday where they had their case heard by Nueces County Court at Law No. 5 Judge Brent Chesney.
The whole process took only about 30 minutes and then Henrie was officially theirs.
"We couldn’t be happier," Nichols said.
"He’s said he has always wanted a family," she said.
The couple was his respite care providers when he was 16 so they had already known him. He had gone to live with a birth family member but later turned up back in the system. When Nichols saw him on a website she knew she had to inquire further.
Now, Henrie lives in Harlingen with his new family and will be starting his junior year at Harlingen High School, where he hopes to be on the cheerleading squad.
The couple already has five adopted sons, Troy, 10, Tommy, 9, who were born in China; Ted, 7, Tristan, 5, who are from Laredo; and 20-month-old Timothy, who’s own adoption was finalized less than a month ago.
"They were super excited to learn they were getting a big brother," Nichols said.
"I am so excited. Now I can call a family mine and be a role model for my new little brothers," Henrie said.
Since 2009, Nichols and Rivera have fostered 20 children who have either gone to live with relatives or gone back home to their birth parents. The couples are certified in being "foster to adoption" parents.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there are currently 341 children in South Texas who are legally up for adoption and 6,500 in the state of Texas.
"So, if people want to adopt teenagers, they can," Nichols said.
There will be an adoption information meeting for the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday at 6 p.m. located at South Texas College, North Academic Building, Room G130, 400 North Border, Weslaco, Texas 78596. For more information call CPS Adoption Recruiter Cornelia Garza at 1-361-854-2011.