As Holly and Michael Schafer were finalizing the adoptions of two children, a 7-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, they were not alone.
The Schafers, who live in Macedonia, had their entire family — including all six of their other children — help them press down on the handle of the official Summit County Probate Court stamp.
They received a rousing round of applause Monday afternoon, not only from officiating Magistrate Paula D. Haas, but also from several dozen family members and friends of other adoptive parents seated in the courtroom’s gallery.
Haas called the moment one of the most joyous occasions under the court’s wide-ranging domain of often-sensitive family matters.
“Some of these kids — considering the lives they were born into — it is truly a blessing that they are adopted by loving families like these,” Haas said.
After caring for little Cameron and Maria as foster children since the week before Christmas two years ago, the Schafers made their adoptions official in a half-hour court ceremony Monday. Three other families also formalized adoptions.
James and Kristen Breedlove of North Canton welcomed a 1-year-old, Tessa, who was wearing a pink dress and sucking her right thumb as she helped press down on the court stamp.
A 9-month-old boy, Joey, was adopted by Michelle and Michael Papp of Akron. And David and Rose Sharp of Peninsula adopted a 4-year-old girl named Lyla.
Since the start of 2011, the court and the Summit County Children Services agency has supervised the adoption of 142 children, including 68 this year, agency social worker Lisa Poor said.
She said local families interested in adopting children are urged to call the Children Services’ foster care and inquiry phone line at 330-379-1990 to begin gathering information on the process.
The next steps, she said, are to attend the agency’s scheduled informational meetings and, if seriously interested in foster care or adoption, to fill out a formal application.
Poor said the agency will respond to the family’s application within 90 days.
Haas said the four families who adopted children Monday should receive their formal adoption decrees from state officials in Columbus within a couple of weeks.
Holly Schafer, the mother of Cameron and Maria, said afterward that the half-hour ceremony gave her and her husband a great, warm sense of permanency. Their eight children — one a foster child and all of the others, ranging in age from 4 months to 10 years old — were brought into their family through the Summit County adoption process.
The benefits are incalculable, Schafer said.
“The way I look at it,” she said, “any day, week or month that you can give to these children, is a benefit to them overall.”
For those who might be hesitant, she suggested remembering that simple proposition.
“I would say you’re making a difference, whether it’s for a week, a month or a year, you’re making a difference in that child’s life,” she said. “For the rest of their life.”
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.