WARREN - What are normally confidential adoption proceedings went public Thursday as Trumbull County staged its annual Adoption Day with Minnie Mouse, balloons and refreshments.
Three youngsters were officially adopted in proceedings overseen by Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift, who said that after 33 years of serving on the bench he has already encountered kids that he previously approved for adoption now applying for marriage licenses in the same court.
The court has partnered with Trumbull County Children Services the past six years to hold the special day as part of National Adoption Month, which spotlights 400,000 youngsters in the country who are in foster care and more than 100,000 who are in need of adoptive homes. Normally, a child waits an average of five years before being placed.
Kionna McQueen, 16, holds on to her brothers Kaleb, 1, in her arms, and Ka’Ron, 3, in front. Both boys were adopted by TeeYonna McQueen of Liberty. Kaleb was one of the children singled out Thursday at Trumbull County Probate Court’s Adoption Day. Tribune Chronicle photos / Christopher Bobby
In Trumbull County, 65 youngsters have been adopted so far this year, with more proceedings scheduled through the end of the year.
A total of 29 of the adoptions were the result of agencies' approval such as Children Services and Northeast Ohio Adoption Services. Others are the product of step-parents seeking to give all the kids in the family the same name. And others are arranged as private adoptions.
Trumbull Commissioner Paul Heltzel, who with fellow Commissioner Frank Fuda presented Swift with a resolution, may have said it best when he described to a crowd in the large third-floor courtroom about growing up in a large family that led to he and another brother teasing younger brother Larry.
''Finally we were teasing him one time and told him that he was adopted. Larry finally told us that if that was true it was because Mom and Dad really wanted him. And my brother and I just happened along somehow.''
The anecdote held true for TeeYonna McQueen, a medical lab technician who works for Valley Care Lab Services.
She's already raising her teenage daughter Kionna, who's enrolled in a pre-nursing program at Trumbull Career and Technical Center.
McQueen became a foster parent in 2009 and adopted 3-year-old son Ka'Ron last year and 1-year-old son Kaleb Thursday.
Kaleb roughhoused with his brother and scooted around the courtroom as a testimony was given about Kaleb's birth parents being unable to care for him. His grandmother also violated a safety plan in place by CSB, who took over custody of the boy.
''I can't imagine life without both of these guys,'' said McQueen. ''This one is a little bossy as you can see,'' she said, holding on to Kaleb.
David and Gennifer Bahn, also of Liberty, adopted five-year-old Dejalynn Star Bahn, who clutched on to her stuffed animal for most of the morning and while posing for photos with a large extended family that showed up to watch the proceeding.
Mrs. Bahan, a teacher at Victory Christian School, and Mr. Bahn, who works for AVI, say Dejalynn has been fitting in perfectly with sisters Chantel, 14, and Geordan, 11.
Brett and Amarjit Clingan of Warren adopted 1-year-old Cole Clingan, who will be learning Spanish as well as English since his mother was born in Panama.