|Connecticut Adoption Day marked by union of new family during open New Haven court proceeding
NEW HAVEN — Cupcakes and balloons aren’t the normal decor at Juvenile Court, but it’s not every day this courtroom gives birth to a family quite so publicly.
With news cameras at the ready, 4-year-old twins Dashawn and Dalon walked into Chief Administrative Judge for Juvenile Matters Carol Wolven’s courtroom Monday with their soon-to-be legal parent, Raynetta. At the family’s request, the court asked that the family’s last name not be used.
“Mom, why are all these people here?” Dalon asked.
“Is this a party? Is it our party?” Dashawn chimed in.
Well, yes. In honor of Connecticut Adoption Day, the court allowed an open proceeding to showcase the adoption process.
In previous years, this open session was held in probate court. A recent change to state law enabled the ceremony to occur here at the state Superior Court for Juvenile Matters on Whalley Avenue, where Department of Children and Families staff involved in the case could attend.
At the ceremony four-year-old twins Dashawn, left, and Dalon, right, were adopted by
their new mother Ranetta center and are congratulated by
DCF Commissioner Joette Katz and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register.
“You become a family not because you share the same genes, but because you share so much love for one another,” Wolven told Raynetta and her sons, who sat on either side of her. The boys were dressed in crisp, new suits and natty neckties.
“The day-to-day responsibilities of parent and child are for you, together, to work out,” Wolven said.
All the legalities were finished in a matter of minutes. Then there were handshakes, hugs, cupcakes and applause.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” Raynetta said.
The boys had been in foster care since the age of 6 months, according to DCF social worker Amy Forte. They lived in two other foster homes before Raynetta came into their lives 1½ years ago.
“This has worked since Day One,” Forte said of the new family. “She’s a schoolteacher, she’s young, she’s active. She can keep up with these boys, who are extremely active.”
Raynetta said the first time she met Dalon and Dashawn, she took them to Edgewood Park. “What I remember is, they wanted me to play tag with them,” Raynetta said. “They were so energetic.”
Actually, she said, she and the boys were reminiscing about it just recently. “Dashawn said to me, ‘Remember when you used to be Raynetta?’” she laughed.
Now she’s Mommy.
Also in attendance at Monday’s proceeding were state Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, DCF Commissioner Joette Katz and members of Raynetta’s extended family.
“This is better than Christmas,” said Carole Williams of Hamden, the boys’ new godmother. “I got my present early.”
November is National Adoption Month. So far this year in Connecticut, 415 children in DCF care have been adopted. Last year, there were 507 such adoptions.
For those interested in adopting a child in foster care, DCF suggests calling 888-KID-HERO or visiting ctfosteradopt.com.
Raynetta said she used to see adoption segments on WTNH when she was a kid, and ask her family if they could adopt someone.
“One thing I’d always wanted to do is adopt a child,” she said. “And I found two.”
Call Jim Shelton at 203-789-5664. Follow him on Twitter @JimboShelton.