By John Burton |
FREEHOLD — There is always much to give thanks for this time of year, but for 17 Monmouth County families and their newest members, it’s going to be a very special holiday season.
“These kids deserve a home, they deserve love,” said Seegal Moses, who, in recognition of National Adoption Day, welcomed 5-year-old Steven into her already large family last Friday.
“They just want to be loved,” Moses observed of her children and all the others who continue to wish for a permanent home.
“It really does feel like Christmas!” added a beaming Kate Johnson, holding her adopted infant daughter.
Monmouth County Surrogate Rosemarie Peters and the seven judges assigned to Family Court in state Superior Court at the Monmouth County Courthouse on Nov. 17, were on hand to celebrate finalizing 17 adoptions, joining together loving families with those who need that love.
The courts and the Surrogate’s Office aren’t always happy places, acknowledged Peters and Judge Kathleen A. Sheedy, noting they’re usually the places for people facing difficult and stressful circumstances.
But on this day, “For our office, this is wonderful,” Peters said. “This is happiness.”
Sheedy said for her and her colleagues, “I can tell you this is the happiest day of the year.”
Sheedy added, “Today we get to create new families.”
The Moses family is already a pretty big one by contemporary standards. Red Bank residents Richard and Seegal Moses have six biological children and with the finalized adoption of Steven last week, have three adopted children.
Seegal was adopted as a young child and is more than willing to bring as many children into the fold as they can, Richard said. “She’s the instigator in this,” he said affectionately. “It still touches me in deep ways,” the commitment her adopted family made to make her a part of their lives, Seegal added.
And with Steven they couldn’t say no, Seegal acknowledged. The boy was found when he was only about 1, living on the streets in Ecuador, being cared for as much as was possible by his two only slightly older sisters. “The parents were M.I.A.,” Richard explained. “We don’t know what happened.” And no one really knows exactly how old Steven is, Richard said, although they have settled on 5.
The boy has been with the Moseses for the past five months and is loved by all his siblings, Seegal said. “It’s just awesome,” Seegal said. “It really is.”
According to Moses, Steven’s sisters have also been adopted and are living with families in the U.S.
For Kate and Jeff Johnson, 4-month-old Ellianna was part of their lives within about an hour of being born. “We were able to meet her at the hospital,” Jeff said.
The Johnsons, who live in Middletown, had entered into a private adoption agreement with the birth mother. “So, she’s been part of us,” Kate said.
But with the formal adoption now done, “We can kind of relax now,” Jeff said, acknowledging there was always the concern the birth mother may change her mind. “This is the day,” Jeff said, joking he now has to start saving for Ellianna’s college and wedding.
“We’re just so excited,” Kate offered. And while it is a lengthy process, having taken the Johnsons about four years total, Jeff recommended to anyone thinking about adopting: “Don’t hesitate, just do it,” because it brings so much joy and happiness.
Victoria Smith and her life partner, Karen Mitcham, are old hands at this, yet it still feels so joyful, they said. “It’s wonderful,” Smith said, as the couple’s adoption was completed for two children.
Jaylen, 2, and Samantha, 5, are joining the Mitcham and Smith family, alongside Mya, a 7-year-old who the couple adopted in June 2012. Smith and Mitcham have been foster parents for these children and for a total of 32 kids over the years. Most of the children returned to their original families or were placed in other homes. “I’m retired now and I love kids,” said Smith, which made the decision to adopt Jaylen and Samantha an easy one.
Mitcham said it’s a lot of work dealing with three youngsters but, “We have a lot of help…we have our church family” to lend support.
Smith believed she and Mitcham are the ones receiving all the benefits. “They keep us young,” she said of the children.
“We learn so much every day,” from the children, Seegal Moses said, believing she and her husband are the lucky ones. “I look at their faces and see so much love.”
National Adoption Day is sponsored annually by a coalition of national organizations, such as the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network, to raise awareness of the approximately 100,000 children nationally, and 300 in Monmouth County, currently in foster care hoping for permanent homes.
Those adopted last Friday range in age from 4 months to 29 years old. There were 122 adoptions finalized in Monmouth County over the course of the year, according to Peters.
This article was first published in the Nov. 23-30, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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