A handful of Suffolk County families entered courtrooms Friday and emerged in celebration as new parents, brothers and sisters.
Saturday is National Adoption Day, a key event for adoptive families and adoption advocates nationwide. At Suffolk County Family Court in Central Islip on Friday, amid teddy bears, balloons and sugary snacks, several judges cleared the final legal hurdle for Long Island families ready to call new additions their own.
Adoptions for 13 children, from babies to age 7 ½, were approved Friday, the latest of hundreds finalized in Suffolk County through the National Adoption Day program, which brings together nonprofits and government groups to celebrate adoption. Families with cases scheduled for the day are invited to attend special ceremonies.
“It’s the happiest day of the year for me, when you see a family come together like this,” said Steven Sarisohn, a Commack attorney who handles adoption cases.
For families with pending adoption cases, the process can be grueling and expensive, especially when complicated custody arrangements are involved. But Sarisohn said the final approval is always a day of joy.
Four families spoke to Newsday about their paths to adoption and their newest sons and daughters.
The Masone Family, Port Jefferson Station
National Adoption Day is nothing new for the Masone Family.
After four adoption court dates over the last decade, they have their favorite celebration restaurants and backups to their preferred restaurants — just in case the wait is too long for the family of 10 children, six of them adopted.
On Friday, they had an adoption cake waiting at home for the family’s newest member, 2-year-old Magdalene, said mother Margaret Masone, 57.
About two years ago, the family had been asked to foster a three-day old baby whose mother could not care for her, Margaret said. Weeks turned into months and temporary started to feel permanent.
“We’re relieved, happy, excited. All positive feelings,” Margaret said. “We realized she was never leaving us and we began the adoption process.”
Dressed in a pink tutu, Magdalene officially became a Masone on Friday. Her older sister Felicity, 18, the first child the Masones adopted, came home from her freshman semester at Adelphi University to be there for her new sister, along with five other siblings.
“From the start, I felt she was always ours,” Felicity said. “Right now it’s just official.”
Magdalene giggled as she played with balloons. Next up was planning a baptism for her, said Margaret and her husband Vincent Masone, 59.
“I don’t think it’s actually totally set in yet,” Margaret said. “Adoption means forever.”
The Smith-Miciotta Family, Dix Hills
After their case was approved around 11 a.m., Jason Smith, 44, and Dominick Miciotta, 48, had a tight schedule to keep.
First stop: a photo and framing studio for an official family portrait, with sleepy 4-month-old Alice in tow.
The couple had previously adopted their 4-year-old son Leo, who happily accompanied his dads for his new sister’s special day. Leo kept a close eye on his sister, who smiled at him as he held onto a National Adoption Day balloon.
“Leo is a great big brother,” Smith said.
They wanted to expand their family with a second child, Miciotta said, but the process was less straightforward than it had been with Leo. They tried different agencies and consultants, but had trouble finding the right birth mother and child for over two years.
“I was discouraged, it didn’t seem like it would happen,” Miciotta said. “Then out of nowhere, when you least expect it, a birth mother made contact with us.”
They arranged a private adoption for Alice, which took several months. When Alice’s adoption was finalized, it brought a sense of relief for the couple.
“It’s a dream come true,” Miciotta said.
The Viviano Family, Centerport
Laura and Chris Viviano already had two children, 11-year-old Gabriel and 9-year-old Darien.
Still, Laura said she had been interested in adoption, and earlier this year, it felt like the right time for them to bring a new child into their family.
“If we could give a child a good home, it’s something we wanted to do,” Laura, 45, said.
The couple worked with a consultant to set up a private adoption, which took nearly a year and led them to Cayden, now five months old.
On Friday, Chris, 49, and all three of his sons wore matching navy blue shirts and tan pants as they filed into Judge Caren Loguercio’s chambers. A smiley Cayden cooed and tapped the table as Loguercio flipped through the paperwork.
Gabriel and Darien, who had the day off from school, watched from the couch.
In less than 10 minutes, the judge had made her decision: Cayden was theirs.
“He’s been the most amazing, happy baby,” Laura said. “We’re blessed,” Chris said.
The Calvin-Tracy Family, Centerport
Persephone Calvin, 2, was too young to understand where she was, but she enjoyed her new teddy bear, which she referred to as a “pig” because of its hot pink color.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ritch Calvin, 59, her grandfather. “It took awhile, but here we are.”
For a year and a half, Calvin and his wife, Claudia Tracy, 50, have had custody of their three grandchildren, Persephone and her older brothers Matthew, 7, and Kratos, 8.
Calvin said his son, who liked Greek mythology, died in January after an illness. That’s when he and Tracy began to explore adoption.
A custody agreement made adoption more challenging for the boys, they said, but the couple was able to adopt Persephone.
The actual adoption process took only three months, Tracy said.
“She’s already our daughter. She’s bonded with us and it feels like this is our family,” Calvin said. “But it’s really nice to have that legal recognition and permanency and certainty that comes with it.”