It was a moment more than three years in the making for Aubree Lynn and her loved ones. Although the Lynn family has taken care of Aubree since her birth, the adoption process wasn't finalized until Monday.
Her mom, Tammy Lynn, said she felt a sense of relief.
"The uncertainty is really hard," she said. "It feels really good to have everything wrapped up."
Aubree and her 2-year-old brother, James, are now both officially part of the Lynn family. They joined five other children in being adopted at a ceremony at the Capitol on Monday afternoon. It was the 19th annual adoption celebration.
Aubree Lynn appeared more excited about her new pink stuffed dog than anything else at the ceremony. No matter the reason, she squealed with delight.
Richard Opper, director of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, said although the seven children might not comprehend the importance of Monday's ceremony, he sure does.
"They have no idea how monumental this moment is for them," Opper said. "I wouldn't miss this ceremony for anything."
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said he speaks at many different events, but this one is especially humbling.
"We are witnessing lives change today," Bullock said. "I join you in your celebration."
The need for foster parents is at a near-record high in Montana. As of last week, 2,788 children are in foster homes. This is nearly double the amount -- 1,500 -- in 2008.
Sometimes it's easy to lose the human aspect of the statistics, Bullock said.
"Each one of those numbers is a child," he said.
John Joyce adopted a son during a similar ceremony 11 years ago. In 2009, he adopted once more.
"Adoption is probably one of the greatest things that anyone can do for a family," he said.
Joyce was recently named an Angel in Adoption through the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, which honors those who have made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families. On Monday, he was recognized with the Stork Award for his work with adoptions.
Coinciding with National Adoption Awareness Month, Monday's celebration was sponsored by the DPHHS, Catholic Social Services and other area licensed child-placing agencies. This month, additional events are slated in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls and Missoula.