A judge in Prince George's County, Maryland, finalized adoptions for 10 families on Thursday, and she spoke with News4's Barbara Harrison about how adoption changed her own life.
Judge Beverly Woodard said she remembers the feeling of becoming a parent herself.
"Just like when they hand a baby to you in a hospital, that you've given birth to, there was no different feeling for me when they handed me my daughter and said, 'You can take her home,'" she said, surrounded by photos of her daughter, Ashley.
Woodard said she knew she wanted to be a mom.
"I was turning 40 and I specialized in sexual abuse and child abuse cases in the state's attorney's office, and I loved children. And when I went home at night, I knew something was missing for me, in my life," she recalled.
It didn't happen overnight. There were classes and a home study. Her parents were concerned about how she could handle a child on her own.
Then, seven months after she saw photos of an infant, she got the call that changed her life. And she brought her little girl home.
"She was in my heart from Day One," Woodard said as she showed a photo of herself and her daughter.
Woodard's daughter, a Towson University graduate, has been the light of her life.
Her experiences 25 years ago made her want to celebrate the joy of adoption with new families. She has now done so in Circuit Court for at least eight years.