After facing tragedy, little boy officially adopted by family members

Updated: Feb. 26, 2017 at 1:13 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a new beginning for a little boy who has suffered several tragedies in his life.

After two years, five-year-old Thomas has a new last name, Miller. During a private ceremony inside of the Henrico County Courthouse on Friday, Thomas was officially adopted by his aunt and uncle, William and Gretchen Miller.

The kindergartner stepped into his newest chapter, with the people who have watched him persevere.

"He was in the car that killed his mom," said Gretchen Miller.

In 2012, just a day after his first birthday, Thomas' mother, Reina Opperman, was killed in a car accident.

Thomas was thrown nearly 70 feet. Henrico firefighters and paramedics rushed Thomas to the hospital that day, and he survived with just scrapes and bruises.

"A miracle. It was a pure miracle," said Gretchen Miller.

In 2014, he lost his father, Erik Oppermann, to a heart attack, so his father's sister Gretchen and her husband did not hesitate to step in, raising Thomas along with their two daughters.

Throughout the years, the people who have come to his rescue have continued to be present in his life.

"As much stuff as he's been through, there's a reason he's here," said Mike Hodges, a Henrico firefighter.

Hodges was there when Thomas was thrown from the car. He later became his godfather, promising his family he would always be there for Thomas.

"I told his dad I would be there for his graduation. Didn't realize I would be there for his adoption," said Hodges.

Thomas, who enjoys playing with his sisters, eating his favorite foods, and going to school, is growing each day. His contagious smile, inspiring everyone he comes in contact with.

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