Creating 17 families in a single day

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February 3, 2003 // UPDATED 4:26 pm - April 27, 2007
By: Ellen Nigon
Ellen Nigon

Hennepin County judges complete a flurry of adoptions with many tales of love

Lauren Fosselman couldn't have understood the gravity of the event happening in the courtroom where she ran circles around the judge's bench, carrying a bouquet of purple, red and yellow balloons. As the 2-year-old flitted around in her fancy dress of black velvet and white chiffon, her parents swore in front of family and friends that they would always take care of their newly adopted daughter.

On Saturday morning, Jan. 25, four Hennepin County judges held hearings finalizing the adoption of 20 children. The kids ranged in age from infants to 16 years old. All came from child protection services with special needs -- whether emotional, physical or mental. The adopting parents held no illusions about the challenges raising these children would present. However, it was clear that those challenges were far outweighed by the joy these children would bring to their families.

"People say Lauren is so blessed to come into our family," Ann Marie Fosselman said. "I tell them, 'We're the blessed ones.'"

Lauren has a disease known as Stickler Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the tissue connecting the heart, bones, eyes and ears. She is fed through a tube and goes to five different kinds of therapy weekly.

Lauren also wears braces on her legs, but

her mother laughed as she explained that she wasn't wearing them on her adoption day, as they don't match her dress.

Ann Marie and her husband, Anthony, had been in the process of an international adoption when they heard about Lauren through a local friend of Ann Marie's who taught Lauren in her special education class.

"We met Lauren and we fell in love," Ann Marie said. "That night my husband and I were awake until 3 a.m. looking up Stickler Syndrome on the Internet. We know we have a rough road ahead, but we'd do it again in a heartbeat."

In another courtroom on the third floor of the Hennepin County Juvenile Justice Center, 2-year-old Kevin became a permanent member of Carol Ryan's family. Like Lauren, Kevin was also dressed smartly in a vest and tie -- and like any normal 2-year-old, his shirt had come untucked from his dress pants.

Carol, a fulltime foster mother, had been Kevin's foster mom since he was an infant. On Saturday, Carol was teary-eyed as Judge Denise Reilly made Kevin a permanent member of the Ryan family.

Said Carol, "I told Kevin today is his big party day and that he's going to be our baby forever."

When asked why -- out of the more than 40 children she's fostered -- she chose to adopt Kevin, Carol wasn't sure how to reply. "There's just something about him. He's so special."

According to Ana Dean, adoption recruiter, the toddlers at this adoption ceremony are not the typical faces of Hennepin County's waiting-to-be-adopted children.

"Of the 132 children we're recruiting families for, there are very few toddlers and infants because foster parents adopt them," she said. "The majority of the kids fall between the ages of 7 and 12."

Because of their ages, Caitlyn and Kylee Bosely fit into the demographic of difficult-to-place kids. They are 7 and 9 years old, and they are siblings whom social workers would not want to place in separate families. Before they met new parents Lee and Cindy Bosely, they had been in the foster care system for four years.

"The girls grew up without a mom and dad. They weren't even tucked in at night," said Cindy Bosely, an adoptee herself. "We want to give them a new beginning. They're going to be safe. They don't have to be afraid when they go home because our house is full of love and safety."

For years, Cindy and Lee had been trying to have children. Three miscarriages later, they decided to try adopting. Cindy said that because she is in her late 30s and Lee in his early 40s, adopting an older child appealed to them.

"We wanted to give older children a chance. Lee and I wanted to have a family. Now we have an instant family," she said.

The Boselys met their daughters at a Hennepin County bowling party for potential parents to meet waiting-to-be-adopted kids. Although they didn't bowl together, Cindy noticed Caitlyn and Kylee and wanted to get to know them. "I thought they were cute," Cindy said.

The Boselys spent six weeks visiting with the girls before they picked each other. Cindy emphasized that not only did she and Lee choose Caitlyn and Kylee, but the girls also chose them.

"We wanted to make sure they liked us," Cindy said. "It didn't take long for them to start calling us mom and dad."

Following the adoption ceremony, most families were going home for a reception of sorts. Ann Marie Fosselman compared the day to a wedding, after which a lifetime of marriage would begin. "Like a wedding, you plan and plan and plan and then it's over," she said. "Now I want to just go home and kiss Lauren and tell her she's home."

For more information on adopting children in

Hennepin County, call 348-2367.