A day for creating new families

Courtroom crowded with parents and children on National Adoption Day

November 19, 2006|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun reporter

Sarah Tidd put her arm around her newly adopted daughter outside a courtroom yesterday and gave her the slightest of hugs.

Compared with some of the other parents who openly wept at the Clarence M. Mitchell Courthouse while adopting about 50 children as part of National Adoption Day, Tidd's show of affection for 13-year-old Amber was low-key. But Tidd, 45, says it is because she had already considered Amber, the biological daughter of her partner, family.

"We just decided that legally, we needed to do it," Tidd said.

Tidd's partner, Sheryl, adopted Tidd's 8-year-old daughter during the ceremony as well, giving the black-and-white couple one of the more nontraditional families at the courthouse.

The Tidds, who live in Rockville, met six years ago at the Inner Harbor after initially finding each other online. They took part in a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2000 and have lived together ever since.

Sheryl Tidd, 39, said they started the process of adopting each other's children in August.

"Obviously, there are all different types of families," she said. "We're just one type. A lot of [Amber's] friends think it's cool she has two moms."

Circuit Judges Marcella A. Holland, Audrey J.S. Carrion and Edward R.K. Hargadon presided over the adoptions. A similar ceremony was held in Baltimore County with 10 families.

Carrion, in an interview afterward, praised those willing to adopt, which included a handful of single mothers and one couple that is pushing retirement age.

The fourth-floor courtroom was filled with adoptive parents, family members, foster care advocates and legal community representatives. City Council President Sheila Dixon also attended the ceremony.

"The most important thing for children is that they are loved," Carrion said. "And you saw examples of that. Today was a celebration of that diversity."

William Taft and his wife, Lona, had been down the adoption road before. The couple, raising a 17-year-old and two 15-year-olds, was awarded their fourth child yesterday, 3-year-old Nikita.

Lona Taft, 60, says the family is also raising an 18-month-old foster child whom she expects to adopt. After working as a nurse for 32 years, Taft says she is used to taking care of others and expects to do so up until her last breath. William Taft, 57, works at Phillips Seafood while his wife runs the house.

The Tafts, married for 15 years, appeared to be the oldest adoptive parents.

"I'll be about 80," Lona Taft said of when she plans to stop raising kids. "But I'm all right with that because I'm going to sure be here to see them. I'm going to be 100-and-something years old before I die."

Hundreds of kids in Baltimore are in need of adoptive homes, said Erika Daneman Slater, chairwoman of the Family Law Committee of the Bar Association of Baltimore City.

Slater is hoping the public ceremony will raise awareness of the need for adoptive parents. She cried outside the courtroom, watching parents embrace their children.

"We've had families adopting three, four kids together," Slater said. "It's heartwarming to see parents give that kind of devotion to an entire family to keep them together."

Beverly Richardson, a prekindergarten teacher, met one of her adoptive sons, Tyreek, three years ago when he was a member of her class.

After developing a bond with Tyreek, Richardson said she decided to adopt him and his brother, who is a year younger. She says she has no qualms about raising the 7- and 6-year-olds as a single parent.

"You always want to wait for the perfect setting, but if you never try, you will be waiting forever," Richardson said. "And you never know what's going to be around the corner."

Richardson's sons, wearing matching ties and red sweaters, played together during a reception. A few feet away from the Richardsons, the Tidds ate cake together as a legal family for the first time.

Sarah Tidd acknowledged the significance of the day.

"There is another part for the kids, and that is that nobody can deny who they are," she said. "Nobody can rip Isabella from Sheryl, and nobody can rip Amber from me."


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