CINCINNATI -- Right outside the Hamilton County probate court, where children and families waited anxiously to be legally united, faces brimmed with smiling excitement and energized chattering. Happiness was in the air and was palpable to all.
November is National Adoption Month and Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services celebrated Friday by bonding the 12 foster children with six families in a mass adoption ceremony.
“This is the day they lose the title ‘foster child’ and officially become just ‘son’ or ‘daughter,’ ” said Moira Weir, director of the Job and Family Services department. “It is a day of celebration. Children, parents, our caseworkers, the family’s supporters, this is a day they’ve all worked toward for some time. It really is a day when dreams come true.”
The ages of the children ranged from 2 years old to 15 years old and the adoptions were both single-child adoptions and multiple sibling adoptions.
Adoption finalizations are normally a confidential process but the families allowed the ceremony to be publicized in order to promote the immense need for loving parents to both foster and adopt children without a home to call their own.
Braylin, 2, was placed in the care of a foster mother Evette Banks, when he was just five days old.
When Judge James Cissell asked Brylon’s foster mom why she wanted to adopt him, she simply said, “Because I love him. From the first day he came into my home, he was mine.”
Robyn Smith said she began her journey fostering four young siblings because her home was too quiet for her liking. She has biological children that have grown up and moved out of her home and she missed the noise of a big family.
She and her husband, Greg, fostered siblings Lauriana, Laylah, Lawrence and Leasia and made the adoption final at the ceremony.
Leisha, the eldest of the group, said kids at her school were wondering why she would be missing the school day Friday.
“I’m like, ‘I’m getting adopted!’ It’s such a big step in my life,” she added.
Never without a smile on his face, 2-year-old Justin is the third child adopted into his now forever family.
“He is loud, he’s happy, he’s energetic, he’s sweet,” said Justin’s caseworker Stacey Barton. “Some of that is all him and some of that is environment also. They are a wonderful family.”
A mom who said she was never intending to adopt fostered brothers Christian and Matthew.
Judge Cissell asked her what ultimately changed her mind.
“I just wanted to make their life better and better down the road,” said mother Angela Pearl. “Matthew came with some challenges and I was just determined to help him turn those challenges into big dreams.”
“If we had more time here I could go on and on about how great these boys are,” said caseworker Stacey Barton. “Some of that is credit to them and some of that is credit to their mom. She loves her boys. She is not ashamed or embarrassed to brag about them a lot. They get great grades and Christian does well on the football team and has second highest honors for his class.”
“I want the community to see that these pre-teens are wonderful and it’s not scary to adopt pre-teens and teenagers and they are wonderful examples,” said Barton.
Brothers Christian, 5, and James, 4, strolled into the probate court donning glasses and a bowtie.
Tony and Brooke Agliata had fostered the boys since an abrupt removal from a previous foster home in April.
Before the adoption was finalized, the boys told the judge and the crowd they like to play with Legos and play on the playground.
In the final adoption of the day, teenage brothers Jamal and Tyshawn joined a family of five.
The boys foster parents said they never intended to adopt but their minds shifted after the brothers began to grow close to the family.
“We decided to give them a permanency so they can excel and feel a placement in their heart,” the boys’ adoptive mother said. “They said they were interested in becoming a family and we talked about it and decided it would be the best for them to grow up in our family.”
The agency has about 190 children available for adoption, which is the lowest number in years. More than 70 adoptions have been finalized so far in 2013.