CINCINNATI — Karen and Tobias Thompson have a love story that’s been years in the making.
The two Taft High School graduates dated as teenagers but ended up marrying other people and raising families with their spouses. When those marriages ended, Karen and Tobias got back together and married each other in 2014.
Their love didn’t stop there, though. Four years ago, the couple took in Karen’s niece and nephew, twins who are now eighth-graders at Taft. When they found out the children’s younger twin sisters were in the child welfare system, Tobias suggested the little girls should live with them, too.
That’s how it came to be that on Thursday morning, the Thompsons' blended family grew by four when the couple adopted both sets of twins in Hamilton County Probate Court.
“No sense splittin’ ‘em up. Keep ‘em all together,” Tobias Thompson said after the adoption was finalized. “Show ‘em a lot of love. That’s all they need. Love.”
Of course, two sets of twins need other things, too: A safe home, food, clothing and plenty of support. Hamilton County Judge Ralph Winkler said his review of the Thompsons’ case files showed they are more than capable of providing it all.
“You’re a great example of what parents should be,” Winkler said.
The Thompsons sat in Winkler’s courtroom Thursday morning flanked by both sets of twins with family and friends in the jury box behind them.
Amber Sawyer, the couple’s Hamilton County Job & Family Services adoption caseworker, spoke on the Thompsons’ behalf.
“One of the things that stuck out to me is how much family is important to them,” Sawyer said during the proceeding. “You can just feel the love and the bond in their home.”
Winkler noted that several important superheroes were adopted – Superman by farmers in Kansas, Batman by his butler, Alfred, after his parents were killed, and Spiderman by his aunt and uncle.
“You guys are more like Spiderman than anything,” Winkler told the children.
But love was the superpower on display Thursday. And the Thompsons, both 55, said they have plenty of it for their adoptive kids, William, Wilmya, who are both 14 now, and Sharnia and Sharleathea, who are 9-year-old fourth-graders at Westwood Elementary School.
“It’s not easy,” Karen Thompson said. “But it’s not hard either. And if you’re got a lot of love, go ahead and give it to the children.”
The newly adopted kids said they love the Thompsons, too, whom they call Gigi and Papa.
The first thing her Papa told Wilmya when she and her brother moved in four years ago, she said, was “I don’t have to be scared, and I don’t have to worry about nothing because he’s going to take care of me. And I’m safe.”
“I love my Gigi so much,” Sharnia said, “that I’ve been wanting to live with her since we got to her house.”
And when asked to describe the best part of getting adopted by the Thompsons, William said: “Living with them. It’s best to live with them. I love living with them.”
There was no discussion in the courtroom about how both sets of twins became available for adoption.
Sawyer said simply, “the kids have been through a lot. They’ve made a lot of progress in this home.”
Now, the Thompsons said, they have four more children to add to the seven adult children from their previous marriages, not to mention their 27 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“It keeps you young because you always busy. You always busy. There’s always something for them to do,” Karen Thompson said. “It’s just a revolving door just trying to do what’s right by keeping everybody together.”
Winkler said he hopes the Thompsons’ story will inspire other families.
“Hopefully you’ll be encouraging people to adopt and take care of your family,” the judge said. “No matter how it’s built, it’s still your family.”
For the Thompsons, Thursday’s adoption marks another chapter in their love story.
“They family, and I feel like we should keep our family together,” Karen Thompson said. “We should try to, anyway.”
More information about adoption in Hamilton County is available online.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. To reach Lucy, email email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.