When two foster children find out they are being adopted, Mickey Mouse helps to break the news.
Did someone just turn Disney World turned into a water park? Because this video of two foster children learning they’re being adopted will definitely get your tears flowing. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)
Courtney and Tom Gilmour of Portland, Pennsylvania have fostered 12-year-old Janielle and 10-year-old Elijah for the last three years. The couple had long planned to adopt the children and were waiting for an official court date when one was finally confirmed in April, just as the family left for a trip to Orlando, Florida, to visit the Magic Kingdom.
When the family checked into the park, they were handed buttons to write down what they were there to celebrate. Courtney wrote “adopting our kids” on her and Tom’s buttons, took a picture of it, and tweeted it the Walt Disney World Twitter account. A Disney representative contacted Courtney a short time later asking how they could make their stay a little extra special. “I thought that they were going to give us free dessert!” Courtney tells PEOPLE.
Instead, the park had something much bigger in mind, and it involved their most famous star.
A video posted by Courtney on July 6 shows the family attending a surprise meet and greet with Mickey at the back of the Town Street Theater at Disney World. “The kids have never been there before, so it didn’t set off any flags that something was happening, we didn’t make it a big deal,” Courtney says.
The footage shows Mickey signing Janielle and Elijah’s guestbook and performing a card trick before a sign is brought out to the kids with a date written across it: May 24, 2017, the day they would officially be adopted. Upon seeing it, both children burst into tears.
Finally, the long wait was over.
The May 24 adoption ceremony at a local courthouse was filled with friends and family. Courtney says that the day was especially important for Janielle, who has been her brother’s protector for all their lives. “When the adoption happened, you saw all of that roll off of her,” she says. “She knew she did not have to have that role anymore and it just came out in tears.”
Since it was posted, the video has been viewed more than 1.6 million times, and Courtney hopes that at least some of its viewers might become inspired to get involved in foster care.
“Whatever hoops we had to jump through, we jumped through because Janielle and Elijah are worth it,” Courtney says. “There was a lot of crying and laughing and screaming in those three years, but we got to the end goal. We got the happy ending.”