Adult adoption brings family closer during holidays

By THOMAS BECNEL – Associated Press – Monday, December 24, 2018

BLACKSTONE, Mass. (AP) – never knew her biological father, but married her mom and became her dad when she was 5 years old.

He used to walk her to elementary school. They went fishing together. When she was a teenager, he taught her how to drive.

Even after and ’s mother divorced, the two of them remained close.

He was there when she got married. She told him she was pregnant on one of their fishing trips. He was there for the birth of her first child.

Decades later, when learned about adult adoption, she was surprised how much this idea meant to her. She asked what he thought. He started calling lawyers the next day.

“A lot of people would say why bother or what’s the point, but he’s the only father figure I’ve ever known,” says. “This is a validation to the world that he’s my father, not just the father in my heart. Put that seal on it, damn it – he’s my father.”

, 45, still lives in Blackstone, where her husband has his own machine shop. , 67, remarried and retired to Bradenton, Florida, four years ago.

When they arranged her adoption through A Bond of Love, a Sarasota, Florida, agency, they were offered court dates of Dec. 17 or Jan. 15.

“We both said it’d be great if it was in December,” says. “What a present.”

For the last 27 years, A Bond of Love has thrown a party in Sarasota for its adoptive parents and their children.

In Bradenton, tells the jump rope story. On the phone from Blackstone, tells the jump rope story.

It goes like this.

When and her mom went on their first date, in 1977, went to a babysitter’s house. On their way home from the date, they picked her up in his car. When got out of the car, she noticed that she had left her jump rope in the back seat.

“I knew I should take it with me,” she says. “If I didn’t, I might not see it again. But I quickly made the decision to leave it on the seat. I was hoping he’d bring it back to me.”

He did bring back her jump rope. He wound up marrying her mom. He became her dad.

remembers looking for a new apartment just before in 1978. remembers that, too.

“We got a tree and set up the decorations before we even moved in our stuff,” he says. “This was two weeks before .”

For more than 30 years, worked in maintenance at a hospital in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. To make extra money, he would clean doctor’s offices in the evening.

When got older, she would work part-time, too. If they finished cleaning early, they would go fishing in a reservoir next to the office park.

“We did a lot of things together,” says. “I taught her to drive on my pickup truck.”

and his wife, Diane, live in Golf Lakes Estates, an upscale mobile home park in Bradenton.

She plays cards. He plays pickle ball.

On their living room wall, Diane has photos of her children and grandchildren. has a wedding photo of his stepdaughter.

He says he never liked the word “stepfather,” much less ex-stepfather, after he and her mom got divorced.

“Legally,” he says, “I found out she wasn’t even my stepdaughter anymore.”

More than 20 years later, when she asked him about adoption, liked the idea, too.

Finally, on Dec. 17, made a conference call to the Manatee County Courthouse, where stood before a judge. A notary swore everyone in. Papers were signed, and that was that.

Five days later, and his wife flew to Massachusetts to spend the holidays with and her husband, Kevin.

“This is the first time we stay with them,” said before the trip. “We’ll be even closer.”

For , the adoption process has been one emotional moment after another. Months ago, when she gave her mother the news, she wasn’t sure what to expect

“When I told her, she burst into tears,” says. “She said, ‘I’m so happy for you guys.’ “

She thinks the first time she ever read about adult adoption was in a newspaper article. She hopes her story might inspire others who want to recognize their adoptive parents.

“It’s never too late,” says. “I might be 45, and he might be in his late 60s, but it turns out that it doesn’t matter. That’s pretty cool to find out.”




Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram

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