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Usually behind closed doors, adoptions open for the day

Sometimes you can find a human interest story in a press release. That's what happened when I received the county's release on their plans for National Adoption Day. I pitched it to the paper, wrote a short story, shot still photos, and shot and edited a short video.

Just like being married at the courthouse or getting divorced, the official adoption proceedings at the Hamilton County Probate Court usually don't live up to the momentous change they signify.

Adoptions are typically done behind closed doors and without much fanfare, but Friday was National Adoption Day. For ten local children whose adoptive parents agreed to go public, there was cake, balloons, and lots of cameras – live-streamed for the world to see.

It was on this day that Gary and Cindy Watson, who live in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, made their third, fourth, fifth, and sixth adoptions. Their oldest children "believe that we should be out on a pontoon boat somewhere fishing, or at least calling from an island somewhere," Gary said. "Our heart's just not in that."

Instead, last night Gary, 62, and Cindy, 57, were caring for a first grader who had lost her front tooth, along with her three siblings.

The couple, who officially went from being parents of four to being parents of eight in a matter of minutes, have been fostering Joshua, 8, Brooke, 7, Kristen 5, and Shyanne, 4, for the last two to four years. (They also have five dogs and two cats.)

"You guys are really taking on a challenge here, aren't ya?" Judge James C. Cissell asked.

They're up for it, they say. The couple estimates they've cared for thirty to forty children over the last 24 years – some for a couple days, some for a few years.

"Our home was empty, (our kids) grew, and married, and went on. It just got to be an empty nest, and we're not empty nesters. God had another idea for us."

Gary will be nearing 80 when Shyanne, the youngest, turns 18. He says he has at least that many years left in him.

"You don't know what's going to happen. Right now, this is better for them."

In Hamilton County, 850 kids are living in foster homes or group homes, or are teenagers about to age out of the system. There are 200 children in the county waiting to be adopted.

To learn more about fostering or adopting, visit Hamilton County Jobs & Family Services.

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