A little boy who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, was adopted by his stepdad and knowing that he got his forever family meant everything to him.
As soon as he learned it was all official, he burst into tears and felt happier than ever before.
What are the details?
"I'd been waiting for it for a long time. When the judge said I was officially adopted, I burst into tears because I was so happy and relieved that it happened,' Connor Julian shared with The Epoch Times about what it felt like to learn he was adopted.
The boy has a great relationship with his adoptive dad, Derek Julian, and the way they became a family is very endearing.
Derek and Sarah met 14 years ago while she was enrolling as a student in a medical program, and he worked at the same college.
They soon became friends, and then they dated for a while. They separated, but they still kept in touch for several years.
When Derek's grandmother passed away, and Sarah lost her dad, they got closer after facing such difficult times.
Derek had talked to Connor on the phone and Facetime, but they only met in 2016, on Christmas Eve.
"Connor knocked on my door on Christmas Eve, and we ended up spending a couple of hours together, me, him, and Sarah," Derek recalls.
After watching movies and playing, Sarah and Connor left for a family event.
"We had so much fun together, and when we were leaving, I was very upset," Connor said.
Even though they'd just met for the first time, Derek and Connor had formed an instant bond of affection, and Sarah had to turn the car around so her son could give Derek a second hug.
From that day, they began spending more time together, and Connor and Derek got closer all the time.
Connor also joined Sarah and Derek when they went out on a date.
"He was always such a good kid to take out to dinner. If we would spend an hour and a half in the restaurant, he'd sit there and color or play and give Sarah and me time to talk to each other and reconnect. We just became an instant family, the three of us," Derek said.
He also started to coach Connor in baseball, and one day, as they were going out together, Connor asked him an unexpected question, "Can I call you dad?"
"I felt like I'd known him much longer than I had. We shared so many memories that I just wanted to call him dad," the boy added.
"I wanted it, too, but I couldn't say yes without talking to his mom first," Derek recalls.
So, he talked to Sarah on that day, and she explained that she was ok with it but didn't want Derek to feel pressured into anything.
They didn't tell Connor anything for a week, but after that time, Connor asked Derek again and began calling him dad.
"I feel like it makes our relationship ten times stronger," Connor said.
Derek and Sarah got married in 2017, and Conor played an important part in the ceremony.
"We called Connor my best son, so he was kind of one of the best men at my wedding as well," Derek said.
Connor also remembers the special day with a smile.
"We were all so happy. And every day from that point, our family got happier and happier."
As soon as they tied the knot, Derek knew he wished to adopt Connor officially, and the boy wanted the same thing. However, the process took time.
In the meantime, Connor began using Derek's last name on all his school papers, and when his teachers questioned him, he said he wanted to be adopted. The entire process took five years.
"I had to contact his dad. He and I sat down for a couple of hours, and I told him how much I love Connor and what this would mean to him and our family," Derek said.
Connor's father then called the boy to ask if that was truly what he wanted and then signed his rights over to Derek. Once they agreed, the process sped up and was completed in a few months.
The whole family got excited as the wonderful day finally came.
"The first words Connor said were, 'I get adopted today,' The judge was asking us questions, and neither of us had it together; we were a mess, tears streaming down our faces," Derek shared.
The adoption meant a lot to Connor precisely because he had waited and hoped for it for so long.
Their family has also grown, with the couple welcoming a little sister for Connor, who adores being the big brother.
"Sometimes, if she's crying, I just walk around the restaurant with her," he said.
Connor and Derek are also on social media together, with many followers who love to see the father-son duo. Many of them are surprised when they find out they're not related.
"They don't believe it a lot of times. Many people think Connor looks like me, especially because of his eyes. At baseball, we'd tell people, and they'd say, we would never have guessed that," Derek said.
The happy dad shared that Connor is a kindhearted child, very outgoing and positive. Connor also feels lucky to have a dad who is loving, understanding, and always ready for a new adventure.
"You're going to have the ups, the downs, the challenges, and the wins. But it is worth every single tear and frustration you have. The result is about the journey," Derek concluded on the meaning of love and patience that make families stronger and build memories to last a lifetime.