On a recent Friday, one 9-year-old not only got a new name, he got a new family as well.
While his new siblings participated from their home computers in Texas, their images projected onto a large screen on the wall of a courtroom in the Cochise County Courthouse, Superior Court Judge Terry Bannon declared the child free and legal to be adopted. Then, with a bang of her gavel, the boy became the son of his great-aunt, Jennifer Reno.
“It’s the best day of the year,” she said. “There’s going to be an adoption party tonight.”
On National Adoption Day, four children became a part of local families as each in turn was legally adopted.
The day began as families gathered outside the courtroom at Juvenile Court, happy and laughing, but nervous, too, while they waited their turn. After the first family was taken into the courtroom, Miss Sierra Vista Outstanding Teen 2022 KayLyn Gooch addressed the courtroom. She said she had been adopted at birth, her birth father in prison and her birth mother not in a position to take care of a child. She knows her birth parents gave her a gift, because “My parents are my biggest supporters,” Gooch said. “I am thankful for the life that they’ve given me. Adoption is always an option. There are just so many kids in need.”
Then the proceedings began. In less than 15 minutes, Jason and Kari Ann Leader became the parents of a little boy.
They were followed by Braden Michael Bartholomew, who became the legal son of his grandmother, Elaine Hughes.
Finally, it was the 9-year-old’s turn. Besides getting his new family, the boy was renamed, one he, himself, chose: Nathaniel Lee Reno. Adoption day was a good day for him.
“I actually have a mom now,” Nathaniel said, though he prefers to be called Nathan. “I have a nice house, and I actually have a home now and a place to sleep.”
Nathan has been living with his great-aunt for more than three years. He came with some issues.
“He used to wake up screaming at night when he first came; he was crying, scared,” Reno said. “He doesn’t do that anymore.”
Nathan got two new grown sisters, a grown brother and a brother-in-law. He is quick to point out that he always had siblings, but “they were crazy,” Nathan said.
Because of the adoption, the family now has peace.
“I feel relief,” Reno said. “Now he’s safe ... I know (the adoption is) how Nathan wanted it, to stay and not have to go back where he came from.”