An official welcome to the family

Smiles, tears mark National Adoption Day proceedings for seven children and their new parents

November 23, 2008|By Rona Marech | Rona Marech,rona.marech@baltsun.com

Loretta and Tom Faulkner had been trying to have a child for seven years when the Department of Social Services called in 2006 and said they had a foster child to place with them. Her name was Hope, which Loretta took as a sign.

"I was always hoping she would be mine," she said.

It has been a long journey: Hope, who weighed less than 5 pounds when the Faulkners took her in as a 4-day-old, was returned to her birth mother after two months. But in the beginning of the year, when the biological mother went through a rough patch, she asked the Faulkners if they could take the toddler back.

They immediately did, and yesterday, the years of hoping came to an end when the Faulkners legally adopted their 2 1/2 -year-old daughter at the third National Adoption Day commemoration at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. Hope, who was wearing a purple ribbon in her blond hair, was among the seven children between the ages of 10 months and 11 years who were adopted at an event court employees look forward to each year because it's a rare courthouse occasion where, for once, everyone is happy.

The families, surrounded by a clutch of relatives, were introduced to the court one by one. After Judge Michael E. Loney said that he had reviewed the files and it was in the best interest of the child to grant the adoption, each family received a bouquet, a teddy bear and a piggy bank amid a burst of camera flashes. Even the smallest children seemed to figure out that something important was happening. There were no outbursts or screaming - just a lot of clapping and wet eyes.

One little girl from Vietnam, one of three international adoptees, played peek-a-boo and giggled while the assembled clump of photographers snapped pictures. The judge invited the oldest girl, Daina Eve Elizabeth Sivilli, to join him at the bench while he signed her papers. Clutching her mother's hand, she stood next to him in the blue-and-black polka-dot dress she had picked out for the occasion.

Afterward, she said she felt "wonderful." Her mother, Tina Sivilli, has three grown stepchildren, but said she always wanted a child of her own.

"We've been looking for Daina for a long time, so we're glad we finally found her," she said as she, her daughter, her sister and her mother all burst into tears. "When I found Daina online, I just knew. We just knew."

Michelle and Greg Bast began trying to adopt a child more than two years ago. After three possible domestic adoptions fell through, they decided to look internationally.

"We couldn't take the emotional roller coaster," Michelle said.

When he was flipping through television channels one day, Greg saw a program highlighting an orphanage in Guatemala City, and that's where they found Benjamin Jose, an active 2 1/2 -year-old who was on the move for much of the morning.

"It's wonderful, and it's a big relief, too," Michelle said once the proceedings were over. "It's the final step. Everything is done."

Maria Stanley also adopted her daughters from Guatemala. She brought her older daughter home in 2005, and yesterday she got the final paperwork for Maxine, a wide-eyed, 15-month-old in a blue-and-white plaid jumper and yellow turtleneck.

"I'm a single parent, and I thought if anything happened to me, I wanted her to have immediate family here, so she'd have a sense of belonging and someone to go through life with. I carry a lot of weight because I'm the only parent. I thought it would be nice to have a sister for her," Stanley said.

She was there with her mother, Kathryn Stanley, who was beaming.

"I've never seen her happier," she said, nodding at her daughter. "I didn't think I'd ever become a grandma and now I'm a grandma twice, and I'm enjoying every second of it."

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