XENIA — Three local families grew Nov. 8 as Greene County hosted the inaugural National Adoption Day event at the Greene County Common Pleas Courthouse in which three adoption hearing were held and open to the public.
Adoption hearing ceremonies are typically confidential. However, the three hearings held Nov. 8 were open to the public to raise awareness of adoption. According to Probate Court Judge Thomas O’Diam, Greene County sees approximately 125 adoptions per year, while a similarly-sized county typically sees 38-40 adoptions per year. O’Diam said Greene County has higher adoption rates partially because of Adoption Link, Inc., a private adoption agency based in Yellow Springs.
One of the families that grew during the event was the Watkins family, of Butler County, who officially adopted their 6-month-old son Clayton. The family also includes Andy, who is the father, and 4-year-old daughter Claire.
“Adoption made it possible for us to have a family. We value it more than life itself,” Adoptive mother Emily Watkins said. “There’s a saying that goes ‘I didn’t have labor pains, but I do have paper cuts’ — there are a lot of steps but it’s worth it in the end. When you give birth, you forget the pain of it when you hold that baby. It’s the same for adoption — you forget the pain when you hold the baby.”
Xenia Mayor Sarah Mays, who is also a foster and adoptive mother, said she became interested in adoption in college. When she met her husband, he was hesitant at first but together they attended a conference that explained all avenues of foster care. From that point, Mays said they “put one foot in front of the other.”
“We had no idea until we were in the midst of it,” she said. “We prayed for direction and kept taking another step. Eight years later, we’re still doing it.”
While she recognizes that there can be pain and heartache involved in adoption, she said there is also beauty and healing.
“Ask questions,” Mays advised prospective adoptive parents. “There is so much beauty in adoption but it can be hard. You need a support system.”
Lana Penney, of Greene County Children Services, said the county organization has hosted 13 adoptions so far this year, but there are 130 children in custody of the local children services, with 35 of them in permanent custody.
“Custody numbers are on the rise throughout Ohio,” Penney said. “Now is the perfect time to come aboard and make a difference in a child’s life.”