35 Beautiful Photos Of Adoptive Families Coming Together

From airport homecomings to courthouse celebrations and more.
11/28/2017 04:42pm ET | Updated November 29, 2017

Adoption can be a long, grueling and emotional process, but as adoptive parents will tell you, the result makes it all worth it.

In honor of National Adoption Month, HuffPost is shining a light on families who’ve grown through adoption, and raising awareness for the children who still need loving homes. To celebrate the beauty of adoption, we gathered photos of adoption homecomings, courthouse finalizations, births, first meetings and more.

Here are 35 beautiful photos of parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even friends coming together as families through adoption.

"Shannon finally gets to hold her son Mathieu for the first time. Mathieu was adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo." -- Sandra Eminger
"As Grandpa held his new granddaughter, the judge joined in the celebration by allowing the little girl to tap his gavel on his desk." -- Mary Morrow
"I was so happy to photograph Keegan’s adoption becoming official! The Morrises asked me to be at the courthouse as their adoption journey was reaching the finish line, and it was an incredibly special day for all who were there. From his family to their social worker to the server at the post-court lunch party, everyone was thrilled to celebrate the (official!) uniting of this lovely family." -- Molly Wantland
"After being separated from a papa he had only gotten to spend a week with in the Congo, this precious boy was ecstatic to see Papa waiting for him and Mama at the airport." -- Mary Morrow
"This big sister exclaimed 'She's all ours!' once her newborn baby sister's adoption was finalized, which made her mama cry." -- Mary Morrow
"Josh and Elizabeth had been in the process of adopting for a long time, jumping through the various hurdles required for the process. They were finally matched with Lawson on their fifth wedding anniversary. Imagine their joy when that call came in." -- Dylan Goldby
"When Alexis heard about a birth mom who was pregnant with twins and looking to put her babies up for adoption, she immediately knew these were her children. " -- Sarah Mariel
"This strong family accepted S's referral at 5 days old, but he finally came home from Democratic Republic of the Congo, three years later. S only got on the airplane to make his long journey with the promise that his big brother was on the other side." -- Brandi-lin Ebersole
"This is the moment Jim and Jeanette's grandkids officially became their kids. The judge ruled in their favor and everyone in the courthouse cheered with them as they hugged and kissed one another. This was a hard-fought battle, and they were relieved it was finally over." -- Jennifer Hicks
"I had never met this family before photographing their arrival at Sacramento airport from Ukraine, but their family had shared their adoption story with me as we waited patiently for their late-night plane to arrive. By the time they emerged, I had tears in my eyes, watching their two adopted children see their new family for the first time, waiting with open arms and USA balloons. As a photographer it's always the greatest privilege to witness some of my clients' most intimate and important moments." -- Michelle McDaid
"Tom and Russell's 26th anniversary was an especially wonderful day, because it was also the day that they finalized the adoption of their two foster children." -- Sarah Mariel
"The Sims family is known as being advocates for many youth from hard places. Here they are adopting two teens at this beautiful adoption finalization." -- Mary Morrow
"Thirteen years under the title 'orphan' and in what seemed like a moment, Nate became a son. As we drove the 40-minute journey to meet Nate, the Harris family shared their inner thoughts and feelings about what it was like to be moments away from their son. And then our van rounded the corner, the gate was rolled back and Nate jumped out of the car. This is the moment Tiffany and Adam Harris first laid eyes on their son in real life. Nate ran into his mother's arms repeating, 'Hello mother, my mother, mother.'"
"I met this family the day of their adoption. They adopted their son and were now adding a little girl. The grandparents were also present at the adoption. The judge was so sweet. He took his time and made sure to get to know the family." -- Aimee Butier
"The adoptive mom was by the birth mom's side for an all natural childbirth. The adoptive mom cut the cord. Then she and the dad took in their baby." -- Brooke Smith
"At Kings County Family Court in Brooklyn, NY, with the help of The New York Foundling, Ms. Mayra Rivera adopted four siblings all at once to ensure that they could remain together as a family under one roof. Ms. Rivera has been a foster parent for six years, and on Nov. 16, she adopted Shawn, William, Rosa and Na Maya. Ms. Rivera, who runs a day care center from her home, said, 'It was a situation that was just supposed to be for a few months, but after a few years, I felt that they were already mine, so I wanted to adopt them to give them a good home.'"
"Emily is greeted at the airport by her two older sons after bringing home Noa from South Korea." -- Sandra Eminger
"The Shaws waited a long time for this moment, four years to be exact. Their adoption journey landed them with Mwana Villages 20 months ago when they first found out about their daughter. This is their journey to their daughter. Adoption can be hard and broken, and the meeting moments aren't the cure all, but they sure are sweet. It was a special moment getting to witness the redemption that was brought through this long wait."
"The Rogers had two beautiful children and wanted more, but because of post-pregnancy issues they knew that their next child would join the family through adoption. They now have an open adoption and their family is finally complete." -- Sarah Mariel
"After six months with him in the U.S., this family was all smiles that they were finally able to finalize their son's adoption." -- Mary Morrow
"I first met Lori and Steve shortly after their arrival in Seoul, and despite the jet lag, they were palpably excited to be here and meeting their son, Davis." -- Dylan Goldby
"After learning the corrupt side of international adoption, the Bridgers family found Mwana Villages, a holistic and ethical family organization in the Republic of the Congo. When the Bridgers learned that Mwana Villages first seeks to support the birth family and keep children in their family of origin they knew this was an organization they could trust. They set out to adopt two children who they researched and found to be truly in need of adoption."
"On National Adoption Day, Jada, age 9, was officially adopted, and the joy was felt by all." -- Brandi-lin Ebersole
"Ben was adopted as a 2-year-old from China. Ben has Down syndrome, and in order to thrive in life, he truly needed to be adopted. We traveled with the Baxter family to Ben's home country, and were humbled to capture their story through photos and film. We hope this story inspires more people to consider adopting children with Down syndrome as it is beautiful and much needed."
"Family meeting birth mom and baby for the first time. Family has three biological boys and birth mom is having a girl. They had never met until this very moment." -- Brooke Smith
"At Kings County Family Court in Brooklyn, NY, with the help of The New York Foundling, Kimberly Westbrooks adopted the fifth child of five siblings to ensure that the children can all remain part of the same family. Ms. Westbrooks has been a foster parent for 11 years, fostering and adopting siblings Roberto, Breanna, Tyler, August and finally, their baby brother Xavier last week, just in time for Thanksgiving! As their foster mother, Ms. Westbrooks has said that it wasn’t planned that she would ultimately adopt all five children, however, over time she said, 'I couldn’t let the other kids go, and it became my job to keep them all together.'"
"This sweet boy could feel the excitement in the air as his parents were about to finalize his adoption." -- Mary Morrow
"A sweet, quiet, somewhat reserved baby girl, Lucy took a little while to open up to her new family. But when she did, it was smiles all around and she took her new brother by the hand to show him around." -- Dylan Goldby
"Our third and final adoption, the completion of our family and our hearts. Using the same magistrate for all three babies, and being able to capture so much love in one picture." -- Baby Wesley's mom, Hayley
"Adoptive mom and dad and birth mom spending time with the baby together. Birth mom taking her in. The little girl is named Journey -- very fitting for their story." -- Brooke Smith
"Olivia, adopted from Congo, meets her family." -- Sandra Eminger
"This is a powerful story of brave people choosing to walk down an unknown path for the sake of another human being’s life. Two women, each a mother in their own right, entered a hospital, one carrying a babe in her womb, the other carrying a babe in her heart. These women are forever knit together by this brave love called domestic adoption."
"Anna-Marie and Brian were in Korea to meet their second son, Tobin, for the first time ... Clearly a loving little man, it didn’t take him long to give his dad a big kiss on the cheek, get swept up in hugs, or share a drink with his mother." -- Dylan Goldby
"Grandma meeting her adoptive granddaughter for the very first time and couple telling grandma that she is named after her. Amazing moment" -- Brooke Smith
"Travis and Rachel were R and K's foster parents for a year until they were adopted. K is declaring to the whole world that he has a forever family." -- Brandi-lin Ebersole

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the last name of Aimee Butier as Butler.