Story from Court News Ohio, Csaba Sukosd
The happiest moments in any court system arguably belong to probate courts. In Franklin County, the court’s happiest day is National Adoption Day.
“I would challenge anybody in the legal system that there is nothing better, and greater, than actually seeing families get put together,” said Franklin County Probate Judge Robert Montgomery.
As one of the first courts in the nation to celebrate National Adoption Day after its creation in November 2000, Franklin County Probate Court celebrated its 19th annual event with 14 children finding forever homes with six families.
Adam and April Walters were one of two households to adopt four siblings. The couple fostered the children for two years before receiving permanent custody.
“To bring in four kids, and give them stability, parenting, mentor, and guidance the rest of their lives, that’s kind of how my wife and I feel like we can give back,” said Adam.
The Walters also have a newborn child, so they’ll be experiencing multiple phases of parenthood simultaneously. Their two adopted boys are younger than 4. Their two girls are teens.
“We’re excited to raise the toddlers. We’re excited to see the teenagers continue to grow, be mature, and responsible, and do things with their lives that, hopefully, impact others in the same way that we’ve had an impact on them,” said Adam.
To date, more than 75,000 foster children have been permanently placed across the country as part of National Adoption Day events.
Along with featuring the joy of uniting families, the celebrations also bring to light the thousands of others still in the foster care system. According to Franklin County Children Services, there are more than 125,000 children nationwide, about 3,000 children in Ohio, and more than 200 children in the county waiting on adoptive homes. Since 1998, probate court records state more than 14,000 adoption cases have been opened in Franklin County.
Much of the legal work done by lawyers representing the families as part of the Franklin County event was pro bono, including efforts by the Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School. Many case workers, attorneys, and court staff members volunteer their time year-round – even sacrificing time with their own families – to help area children in need. For all of the above, it’s a small price to pay for something that can have a life-changing impact.
“It’s such a wonderful thing,” said Judge Montgomery. “It’s such a wonderful feeling to be a part of it.”