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Families happily grow on Adoption Day

By Rachel Southmayd
rsouthmayd@heraldonline.com

The happiest place in York County on Monday was the lobby of Family Court in Rock Hill.

It was just beyond the doors of that lobby that children got parents, parents got children and families became whole. It was what attorney Dale Dove calls “Adoption Day.”

But for 6-month-old Eddie, who wears a sticker-covered helmet to fix a misshapen head, it was just another day to sit on his parents’ laps, cramming his fists and anything else he could get his hands on in his mouth.

For Justin, 11, it was something he had to get through before he could go back to playing with his brother.

In the courtroom, the lawyers, court reporter and judge did what they were supposed to do. They read reports and asked formal questions and submitted paperwork. It was all very formal, very structured.

Except that when it was all over, when Eddie or Justin or one of the other children got official homes on Monday, the judge came around from behind the bench, handed each child a teddy bear donated by the York County Bar Association and smiled for pictures as new families took their first official photos together. Then they left, beaming and giving reassuring looks to the next set of families patiently waiting in the lobby for their own good news.

“It’s just the best day,” Dove said.

Eddie is the second adopted child for Leslie and Ed Currie, who own and operate the Fort Mill-based Pucker Butt Pepper Company and whose pepper was recently recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s hottest. The Curries adopted a little girl, Katie, two years ago, after three pregnancies ended in miscarriages.

As Leslie and Ed tell it, God intervened and sent them an angel in the form of a visiting pastor who told them that adopting a baby would would be a joy and a blessing, even though they were both 50 years old.

In the lobby of the courtroom on Monday, Eddie’s eyes followed Katie as she walked around.

“I looked at Katie and thought how nice it would be for her to have a sibling,” Leslie Currie said. “And we said if the timing was right, God would send us a sign.”

Then came the phone call about a young woman who was going to have a baby.

Leslie Currie called the young parents who decided to give up their son for adoption “loving and courageous.”

The newest Poole

After the Currie family had dotted all their I’s and crossed their T’s, it was the Poole family’s turn.

Not only were Mary and Richard Poole adopting an older child, they also were adopting their second child with Down syndrome.

Justin is now the newest member of the family, following Mary and Richard Poole’s five biological children and one other adopted child.

“We decided when our youngest was in high school, … we wanted to keep being parents,” testified Mary Poole during Justin’s adoption hearing.

Mary Poole is executive director of the York County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs. Her husband said they’ve always felt drawn to children with Down syndrome and that they enjoy their personalities.

Their other adopted son, J.T., 8, waved from the back of the courtroom while his parents were on the stand.

“These are the kids that nobody wants,” Richard Poole said. “And we want to give them a home.”

Their new son Justin, a quiet, sweet boy, didn’t seem rattled by all the hoopla surrounding Monday’s events. Before posing for a family photo, his new dad bounced Justin on his knee and made him flash a rare smile.

An honor and a privilege

Parenting is a joy no matter how your children come into your life, said Ed Currie.

“It’s an honor and a privilege,” he said.

On Monday, 14 families were scheduled to finalize the adoptions of 18 children and 1 adult.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072
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