Giraffes and elephants in court? Missouri Judge making adoption proceedings special

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JASPER COUNTY, Mo. (KSNF) — It could be the biggest day of a kid’s life, and a Missouri judge is using a unique set of skills to highlight the celebration. What’s different about these court proceedings?

“I do balloon animals. It’s something I picked up during our campaign back in 2014. And I just continued to do it for our adoption kids,” said Jasper County Judge Joe Hensley.

Hensley had done more than a thousand adoptions as an attorney before becoming a judge. He wanted to make that special when he took over the bench, so he decided to invest a little time and energy.

“Bears. We have, let’s see giraffes, elephants; I can make all kinds of things.”

Not something you’d normally see in the courtroom, but something Emily Dunavent says is priceless.

“Judge Hensley is amazing and has a huge heart for kids who are in the foster care system as a whole. And so this is just a really special thing, and I’m so excited that my boys get to experience this with him,” said Dunavent.

Judge Hensley estimates he does 75 to 100 adoptions a year. He says it’s the highlight of his docket.

He points out it costs just a few pennies to make the balloon animals.

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