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The joy from this CT family marks National Adoption Month

Ebong Udoma
/
WSHU

Connecticut highlighted adoption hearings this November in celebration of National Adoption Month.

The joy of an Ansonia family was evident at one of the hearings at the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in Bridgeport.

The hearing was for two-year-old Ju Ju. She was being adopted by Rodney Moore, a Department of Children and Families social work supervisor, and his wife Christina. They live in Ansonia. They are Ju Ju’s maternal aunt and uncle who’ve been kinship foster parents since she was only five-days-old.

Moore said they were asked to pick up Ju Ju from the hospital, because her birth mother had substance abuse issues, which had affected Ju Ju.

“Unfortunately, she was born positive for a few illicit substances. She was in the NICU (natal intensive care unit) for quite some time, for a few days. And we were kind of a little worried about how she was going to turn out medically, but you know we knew she was family, and we wanted to make sure she had a home to come to instead of going into a stranger's home for foster care,” he said.

It’s not been easy for Ju Ju, Moore said. “She was struggling with a lot of breathing issues. We went back and forth to the hospital, overnights at the hospital. Multiple surgeries. But I would say within the past seven, eight months she’s had a significant turnaround medically, and she’s doing extremely well.”

Christina and Rodney Moore with their children, Ju Ju, Nina and Roman outside the courtroom at the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in Bridgeport, just before legally adopting Ju Ju on Friday, November 17, 2023.
Ebong Udoma
Christina and Rodney Moore with their children, Ju Ju, Nina and Roman outside the courtroom at the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters in Bridgeport, just before legally adopting Ju Ju on Friday, November 17, 2023.

That was evident as Ju Ju joyfully jumped from one family member to another as they waited outside the courtroom for her adoption hearing.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least,” said Moore’s wife Christina. “But I’m happy that now we kind of come to an end. And she’s going to be with us forever.’

“It feels wonderful, amazing, we have been waiting for this for a while and we are thankful,” Moore’s mother Ra’Monia Manick-Highsmith chimed in.

“I can’t put it into words. She’s been part of the family since we’ve met her,” said Moore’s sister Imani Manick-Highsmith.

It feels very different that she’s going to be truly ours. And these past couple of years have been different. But I’ve got used to, and now she’s going to be with us, forever and ever. So it's going to be fun,” said Ju Ju’s new brother, 12-year-old Roman.

“I like having a new sister,” said sister Nina Noel Moore, who’s seven.

The state Department of Children and Families has completed about 420 adoptions this year.

The Moore adoption was one of 30 finalized on Friday, Nov. 17.

Ebong Udoma
/
WSHU

“The name of the child is changed to Jewel Egypt Moore. A decree of adoption so entered. Congratulations,” said Superior Court Judge Sharon Skyers, as the Moore family, friends and well-wishers inside the courtroom jumped up with applause and joy.

Connecticut has also reunified about 400 children with their families, and facilitated about 280 permanent transfers of guardianship.

The emphasis has been on kinship adoption where possible within extended families, just like with the Moore family.

“They have an ability to stay within their families because we know that is going to have a huge and positive impact in the long-term,” Moore said.

“And for people who are not family and they want to foster or adopt, it is an amazing opportunity to take a child who is in an unfortunate circumstance to put them in a home where they can thrive,” he added — because families come in all shapes and sizes.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.