Butler County adoption day brings smiles

It was organized chaos at the Butler County historic courthouse Saturday morning as 22 children, all shapes and sizes, ginned from ear to ear while their parents adopted them.

Each year on National Adoption Day Probate Judge Randy Rogers — this year he tag-teamed the cases with Magistrate Heather Cady — presides over the most important day in a foster kid’s life.

Richard and Christina Bennett of Liberty Twp. adopted three children — Isaiah, 9, William, 8 and Abigail, 6. That brings their brood up to eight Bennetts and another foster child; plus they were headed later in the day to the hospital to pick up a foster baby, a two-month-old boy. A couple of former foster kids were also in attendance.

“You either complain about the world or you do something about it,” the dad said. “I choose to do something about it.”

This was the second largest group of adoptions the judge has ever done at one time — last year there were 24 on National Adoption Day — and this year is projected to tie last year with the largest total number of adoptions seen in recent years at 83.

Children Services Adoption Supervisor Theresa Cooper said there were 56 adoptions in 2014 and 51 the year before. She said another phenomenon beginning to look like a trend is the number of sibling groups foster parents are adopting. This year one family adopted four siblings, two families welcoming three siblings each and two others adopted two siblings.

She said all adoptive parents are special and the Bennett family in particular is “amazing.”

“They brought in three kids into their world, three kids that they are not related to, they didn’t know before,” she said. “I feel like the Bennetts are amazing. They take these kids in who have experienced trauma, their world has been flipped upside down, they didn’t cause all these problems in their lives. But then Mr. and Mrs. Bennett bring them in, and just love on them, give them structure and provide them a world that is safe.”

Christina Bennett said they have four biological children, four adopted kids, two fosters and two former foster who like to hang out at the Bennett house. She said it just works.

“I guess our attitudes are always, ‘You walk into the house, you’re ours,’ ” she said. “I think it helps break down the divisions that could occur between bio and foster and adopted. If we are somewhere and I say it’s time to go, I say, ‘Bennett kids, it’s time to go.’ ”

The Bennetts have a 3,000-square-foot home with four bedrooms on the second floor. They turned the dining room into sleeping quarters and there is another bedroom in the basement. With the latest additions to family, she said her husband will be building a new kitchen table. She called him a jack of all trades. He is also a children’s pastor.

Cooper said adoptive parents can get financial support to take care of their new additions. Some take nothing, the norm would be in the $300 to $350 a month range, but the stipend is higher if the child has special needs.

When the judge asked, “You kids want to get adopted today?” all three gave an enthusiastic “Yea!”

Bill Morrison, director of Children Services, echoed Cooper’s sentiments about the Bennett brood.

“The Bennetts are like the most amazing people I have ever met in my life,” he said. “In addition to being foster and adoptive parents, it’s their relationship with Lindenwald Baptist Church that allows us to have the foster parent conference there and host other meetings. They just provide a wealth of resources to the agency.”

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