"She is a great blessing to us," says Jeannie, who has four adult children, while her husband has two. "She just changed our lives all around. Instead of sitting and twiddling our thumbs, we've got someone to look after." The couple has enjoyed parenting so much that they hope to adopt another girl.
Joe Mondello, 71, also decided to adopt a second time. In late November, he became the adoptive father of 19-year-old Jeffrey. "We're doing great. He's fitting in here," says Mondello, a part-time greeter at Sears.
Modello initially took in and later adopted a 12-year-old foster child, Dale, now 29 and living on his own. This was after Mondello's mother had died and he felt lonely in his three-bedroom home in Highland Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. "He's very much as if he were my own birth child," Mondello says of Dale.
Helping kids to flourish
In the Monroeville, N.J., home of Curtis Blount and his partner of 12 years, Jeffrey Long, adopted kids Gerry and Cedric, both 15, feel as if they're brothers even though they're not blood-related. "Since the adoption, Gerry has really come out of his shell and developed into a fine young man," says Blount, 46, head of information security for a global apparel company. Long, 51, is a retired corrections officer.
"While Cedric is the basketball jock, Gerry has become the pretty boy in the family, with all the girls calling him," Blount says. "They keep us very busy. It's amazing to watch these two grow and mature." During the week, parenting centers around homework and school projects. On weekends, the focus turns to sports.
"To know that you had the opportunity to provide a home to someone who would be just another number in the system is an amazing feeling," Blount says. "Yes, they are the typical spoiled teenagers. But at the same time, they keep our lives humbled and blessed."
Susan Kreimer is a writer in New York.
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