The Palmer family grows by one on Friday
BRIDGEPORT — Simone Palmer’s name was on the papers, but it seemed like the whole courtroom adopted Kadean Lynn Johnson on Friday.
A small army of Palmers — aunts, uncles and cousins — crowded onto two courtroom benches to cheer as Judge Robert Clark made official what has pretty much been the reality since Simone Palmer began fostering Kadean two years ago.
“This is as good as it gets,” Clark said from his bench. “We do a lot of difficult work here, but not today.”
“Thank you for giving me this blessing,” Palmer told the judge.
The celebration was one of 12 to play out in Bridgeport Juvenile Court on what has been dubbed Adoption Day in Connecticut, an event held in open court to encourage more families to provide permanent homes to children in foster care. In all, 17 children, including three sets of siblings, were adopted into a dozen families in the Housatonic Avenue courthouse.
The courthouse was filled with flowers, smiles and lots of picture taking. In the case of the Palmers, it was a team photo after Kadean gave the judge a high-five.
In the past fiscal year, the state Department of Children and Families reported completing 519 adoptions and transferred guardianship for 352 children. That pace was up from the year before.
As of Aug. 1, there were 4,329 children in foster care — 9.4 percent fewer than in 2011, according to the DCF. Roughly half are expected to return to their families and 42 percent are living with relatives.
Palmer said the decision to adopt was not hard.
“I am a people person,” she declared. “I love kids. I love people in general.”
A 27-year-old single mother, Palmer grew up and went to school in Bridgeport. She works two jobs, assisting adults with disabilities and is a FedEx driver.
She started caring for Kadean two days after the girl’s 2nd birthday, and knew from the start it would become permanent.
Kadean turns 4 in January, and on Friday looked like a mini-me to her now big sister, 8-year-old Sanyrah. They dressed in matching pink skirts, butterfly shirts and black boots.
Kadean stood out with a crown of colorful barrettes.
Susan Ontra, a DCF social work supervisor, said she has known Kadean since she was a tiny baby.
“To see her in the loving hands of all of you is so wonderful,” she told the Palmer family.
Palmer is the youngest of nine sisters, who were all in the courtroom with their own children and an aunt, Rosemary Palmer. Palmer also has two younger brothers.
She said it was a beautiful thing to help others get off the system and give them a loving home. The certificate she received did not make her feel any different.
“She was always my daughter, since the first day she walked into my house,” Palmer said. “Ask her her name. She will tell you, she’s a Palmer.”