Magistrate Jon Oldham looked squarely at the three McCausland children appearing before him.
Moments earlier, parents Gerald and Catherine McCausland of Stow confirmed that they wanted to adopt 2-year-old Luke, adding an 11th child to their family.
“Do you understand what this means?” Oldham asked the other children jokingly. “He’s going to take your toys. He’s going to get your dresses dirty. You’re going to have to drive him around when you get older.”
The children weren’t dissuaded and the blond, dimple-chinned Luke legally became a McCausland on Monday during the annual Adoption Day at Summit County Probate Court.
The public event, sponsored by Summit County Children Services, is held each year during National Adoption Awareness Month.
Children Services had 75 adoptions finalized last year, and 38 through October of this year. The agency has about 55 children waiting to be adopted, and of those, 46 were age 12 and older.
Adoption Day is a special, happy day for the families — and the court.
“We don’t always get to bring joy into everyone’s family,” Oldham said.
For the McCauslands, the ceremony itself is old hat. They’ve adopted five children now.
“It’s never dull,” Catherine McCausland, 48, said about their large family. “There’s a lot of love and hugs and just when you think things are crazy, one of them makes you laugh and it reminds you why you wanted a large family.”
The children range in age from 2 to 31.
“Love seems to multiply,” she added.
Catherine is a pediatric nurse who now stays home with the children. She and Gerald, 56, own a plumbing company.
Through the years, they have served as foster parents for 36 children. They had been foster parents to Luke since he was 2 months old.
“We’re Catholic and we’re very pro-life,” Catherine said. “We believe that every person is important. They have a purpose and by caring for the children and loving them and giving them a home, we’re changing someone’s life for the better.”
In addition to the McCauslands’, two other adoptions were finalized.
Christopher and Kelly Tieland of Akron adopted 2-year-old Keyari.
And James and Amanda Rome of Stow adopted sisters, 8-year-old Evian and 4-year-old Raylynn.
It was the first adoption for the family.
The girls have been with the Romes — 32-year-old James is a stay-at-home dad and 31-year-old Amanda is a children’s librarian — for more than two years.
As for why the parents wanted to adopt the siblings, the answer is simple.
“Because we love them and all children deserve a forever family,” James said.
Amanda added: “We believe that all children deserve to have every opportunity to succeed in life and we have a lot of love to give.”
The Romes planned to have pizza to celebrate. The revelry isn’t expect to end any time soon.
“We’ll continue celebrating with the girls for years,” James said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.