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Through adoption, a judge makes kids' temporary homes permanent.
By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published November 27, 2007
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
DADE CITY - Twice her parents told Ruthann Swanson to wash the dishes. But the 12-year-old would have none of that.
"I know why you adopted me," she told her parents. "You wanted someone to wash the dishes."
Her father, she said, "didn't miss a beat."
"It would have been cheaper to buy a dishwasher," he shot back at his daughter.
Laughter rang out Monday in Courtroom D. Balloons were everywhere. Elmo sat next to Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.
It was the fifth annual adoption day ceremony - held in honor of National Adoption Month - as six families came to finalize the adoptions of 10 children.
But first they listened to Swanson, now 62, a community volunteer and the wife of retired Judge Maynard Swanson.
She has an adopted daughter and an adopted grandson, and an attitude about her origins that she honed when she was just a little girl:
"I'm special," she told people. "I'm adopted."
Adoption proceedings for Jasmine Welton started just days after birth. Sean and Trico Welton were her new parents, hand-picked by the birth mother herself after she read their online profile.
In December 2003 they flew to Las Vegas to pick up the fifth child of their family.
On Monday, they officially added the sixth and seventh children.
You see, Sean Welton returned to Las Vegas after the adoption and learned something shocking: Jasmine had two siblings.
When he returned to Wesley Chapel, husband and wife could not talk about it for three days. Turns out, they didn't have too. On their own, Sean Welton, 37, and Trico, 35, each arrived at the same decision:
They had to unify the siblings.
"We love Jasmine," the father said. "We couldn't imagine her brother and sister bouncing from group home to group home."
A'marrie, 6, and Kendal, 3, had their adoptions finalized Monday. Jasmine is 4 now. They join the couple's four biological children: Brianna, 15; Ashley, 14; Kalen, 11; and Jacob, 8.
Seven kids is as interesting as you might imagine.
"It's, uh, a lot of fun," the father said. "I'd say it's controlled chaos around our house."
Oh, Dean and Jeanell Allen know all about that.
As her children filed out of court, the mother touched each head to keep count.
"One ... two ... three ... four ... five ... six ... seven," she said. The one in her other arm makes eight.
Altogether, the Allens have 10 kids.
For those keeping score at home, that's two biological kids, four kids adopted or in the process of being adopted, and four foster children who might be adopted, too. How did all this start?
"It was an accident," said Jeanell Allen, 33.
Five years ago the couple had two of their own when they took in two more kids temporarily.
That got them thinking: why not become foster parents? "We've always loved kids," said Dean Allen, 44.
They've cared for more than 300 foster children over the past five years. But Monday was their first official adoption.
Three siblings - twins Isabella and Elizabeth, about to turn 3, and 1-year-old Alexis - officially joined the family Monday. Soon, 15-month-old Robert will have his adoption finalized, too.
Three of the four foster children are also siblings - Jessie, 12; Samantha, 11; and Josie, 8 - and they might officially join the family, too. Autumn, 5, has decided that she wants to, too.
Michael, 16, and Dealaney, 9, are the couple's biological children. They all live in Land O'Lakes in a five-bedroom home.
"We're adding on," Dean Allen said.
Ruthann Swanson told the assembled families about the one question she's been asked again and again as an adopted child:
If she ever met her birth parents, what would she say to them?
Actually, Swanson said, she never had any desire to meet her birth parents. But if she did, she said, she'd know just what to say:
Jamal Thalji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 869-6236.
[Last modified November 26, 2007, 22:04:35]