Cassie Jones gets a mother during National Adoption Month

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Mon., Nov. 21, 2011
Cassie and Alana Jones sit in the Northeast Children's Probate Court. Photos by D.Coffey.
Cassie and Alana Jones sit in the Northeast Children's Probate Court. Photos by D.Coffey.

On Nov. 18, life settled down for 10-year-old Cassondra Jones. She has been through a lot in her young life. By her first birthday, she was in the foster care system. She was adopted soon after, but her adoptive parents have since passed away; her father in 2005, and her mother in 2009. Then she moved from Florida to Brooklyn to live with her stepsister and guardian - Alana Jones. And here, she has finally found a home.

In one of six recent ceremonies held in children's probate courts across the state - ceremonies that also commemorated National Adoption Month - Cassie officially became the daughter of Alana Jones, and she recalled some of her difficulties up to this point. “I didn't make it through without crying,” she said at the courthouse.

One of the things that makes this adoption so special is that Alana Jones is the director of Hearts and Hands and Homes, a federally- funded collaborative whose mission is to ensure that children in out-of-home placement are put into loving homes. Jones holds regular meetings for people interested in learning more about foster and adoption services in northeastern Connecticut. She has fostered 42 children during the past six years, and Cassie is the third child she has adopted.

Adoption resource specialist Denise Lopez has worked closely with Jones through the years. “It’s been a pleasure to work with her,” Lopez said. “She has a heart of gold.” Apparently that heart was handed down from her parents, who adopted two children when they became empty nesters.

The Honorable David Griffiths, who presided over the adoption ceremony, said it was one of the happiest occasions for a judge. “It's wonderful that people extend their homes and their lives to adopt children,” he said.

Adoptions are delicate issues requiring all the wisdom a judge can summon. There are studies and hearings required. Sometimes recommendations are made and follow-up is required. Visitation rights might need to be worked out. The hearings insure that all sides involved have a chance to be heard. Ultimately, a judge must decide in the best interests of the child.

“After you make a decision, you think about it at night,” Griffiths said. “You have high hopes.”

The adoption ceremony is a celebration; the end of the preparations, and the beginning of a new journey. It was brief. Griffiths charged Alana with her obligation to do her best to guide Cassie through whatever life struggles she faced. Then Griffiths asked Cassie to make it official by banging the gavel.

“As far as the court is concerned,” he said, “you are Cassondra Jones.”

The room erupted in applause, photographs were taken, and Cassie and her Alana Jones handed out cake to celebrate the occasion.
More than 100,000 children await adoption in the United States. In a proclamation issued on Nov. 1, 2011, President Barack Obama declared November as National Adoption Month. “I encourage all Americans to observe this month by answering the call to find homes for every child in America in need of a permanent and caring family, and to support the families who care for them,” he wrote.

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