ONTARIO -- Dozens of children fidgeted, fussed and tugged at their dress clothes Wednesday afternoon as adults lovingly shushed their giggles or soothed their whimpers.
But after several hours, they emerged from the Ontario Convention Center as families as part of San Bernardino County's 15th annual adoption event.
About 77 families from all over California and Arizona took part in the event.
It was especially exciting for Xavier and Mykaila Francois, 7 and 6 respectively, who for the second time will be welcoming new siblings into their home.
"I'm happy," said Xavier as he played with his uncle in the hallway of the Ontario Convention Center.
Several years ago, Xavier and his little sister were adopted by Tamika and Fritz Francois of Murrieta. A short time after that, the family adopted now 5-year-old Elijah. On Wednesday, the Francois family added three more to their growing brood.
"We have a very special mom," the bouncy 7-year-old said.
The Francoises have no children of their own, but made a conscience choice to adopt children before they tried to have their own biological children.
"It doesn't surprise me that they'd do this because my big brother has a big heart and when I met Tamika, I knew she had a big heart, too," said Patrick Francois, Fritz Francois's younger brother who flew out from Florida to be a part of the adoption process.
"He's flown out here every time," Tamika Francois said.
On Wednesday, the family adopted a boy and two girls, all siblings.
"We were looking to adopt a little girl, but God blessed us with two more," the 29-year-old mother said.
The Francoises were not the only family who opened their hearts and homes to multiple children.
This year, several sets of siblings were allowed to remain together when they were adopted by families unwilling to break the brothers and sisters apart.
"The sense of emotional connection and knowing you are part of a family that will always be with you is the foundation for the health and well-being for all people," said Children and Family Services Director DeAnna Avey-Motikeit in a press release.
"Today's adoption finalization is the celebration of a hallmark day for each of these families achieving the security and love of a permanent home."
Fritz Francois said he and his wife are done adopting but said they will be adding more children to their family.
"It's time for us to now have our own," he said.