National Adoption Day: Butler County finalizes 5 new forever families

Ed and Holly Schlaack, who have 3 adult children, are adopting 12-year-old Paige, middle, on National Adoption Day after 3-years of being foster parents Saturday, Nov. 20 at the historic Butler County Courthouse in Hamilton. The Schlaacks are pictured left to right; Hanna, Holly, Ed, Paige, Grace and Ben. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Caption
Ed and Holly Schlaack, who have 3 adult children, are adopting 12-year-old Paige, middle, on National Adoption Day after 3-years of being foster parents Saturday, Nov. 20 at the historic Butler County Courthouse in Hamilton. The Schlaacks are pictured left to right; Hanna, Holly, Ed, Paige, Grace and Ben. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Event is a joyful moment in local court

Every year, Butler County celebrates National Adoption Day with a “mass” adoption ceremony in the Historic Courthouse, and this year five forever families being created are bringing the total number of adoptions up to 36 so far this year.

Theresa Cooper, adoption supervisor for Butler County Children Services, said new Probate Court Judge John Holcomb and his Magistrate Maria McBride will finalize the adoption of seven kids into five families in the Historic Courthouse today.

One of the “kids” is 19 and has been in their custody, and another family is adopting three siblings. Adoptions this year are way down compared to the past five years, a third of the number adopted in 2016 when 91 kids found forever families. The coronavirus pandemic is the culprit.

“It just is a conglomerate mess of termination of parental rights not happening as quickly because of COVID, it holds up cases,” Cooper said. “When it holds up cases in the year 2020 it holds up cases getting transferred in 2021 and adoptions being able to be finalized.”

ExploreButler County judge celebrates final National Adoption Day

She said they also need more families who are willing to foster and adopt sibling groups and older children, like the Schlaack family.

Holly and Ed Schlaack will welcome 12-year-old Paige into their family on Saturday, they have fostered her since she was 9 and her new mom says she is “just like a light” and is bringing much more to their lives than they have given her.

“Paige is just amazing and we always wonder, how did we get so lucky, gosh of all the parents she could have, how is it we got to be her parents...,” Schlaack told the Journal-News. “She has given us so much, she has brought so much joy and so much love to our life and new perspectives and she’s keeping us from getting old.”

Schlaack said her daughter has had a very rough life and as of today will have been in the foster system 1,569 days, she had been in four different schools and suffered through one failed reunification with her birth mother.

Today, the little girl who wouldn’t pick up a pencil or do her homework, has made the honor roll at Princeton Middle School and wants to be an engineer when she grows up, “I feel like now she’s ready to take on the world.”

Paige told the Journal-News she has “tons of friends” at her new home in Sharonville and the Schlaacks have been very supportive and kind to her. “I’m really excited” she said about her big day.

“I’ll feel relieved because I don’t have to be in foster care anymore, which I hope not,” Paige said. “Once you make a decision you don’t have to worry about what happens next because it kind of messes you up and your whole life and it’s really hard to handle.”

Paige said she was a little nervous about being the center of attention but Holcomb told the Journal-News as always the court will try to make the day fun and festive. He inherited retired Judge Randy Rogers’ giant gavel — the kids love to pound it on the bench after their adoptions are finalized — and can’t wait to use it.

“Not a lot that happens in the court system is an occasion for joy,” Holcomb said. “So adoptions are the big exception to that.”

Schlaack has worked in the foster care system since she got out of college and she and her husband, a federal agent with the IRS, always talked about fostering when their other children got older. She says Paige loves to Facetime with her adult sisters Hanna and Grace who live on the West coast and she adores 19-year-old brother Ben who is studying engineering at UC.

Schlaack said they let Paige decide how much contact she has with her birth mother and biological brother.

“I think my favorite part about the Schlaacks is they keep in contact with Paige’s brother and biological mother,” Angela Evans, Paige’s social worker said. “So I feel like they are not trying to replace what she’s lost but really just trying to add to it.”

Schlaack said it is amazing how resilient her daughter is, able to rise above all the pain and thrive. She said she hopes others will consider adopting “older” kids.

“People are really afraid to adopt older kids, thinking if I get a baby or a younger child I can kind of like start fresh,” Schlaack said. “These older kids are kids too and they just need families. I just wish we wouldn’t stereotype older kids as damaged, behavior problems, many of them do have a lot of behavior problems but it’s not that they can’t be overcome.”


Butler County adoptions

2016: 91

2017: 55

2018: 72

2019: 87

2020: 57

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