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Pinellas County
Kids find their forever homes on Adoption Day
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[Image]
Photo by ALEXANDRA LUNDAHL
A teary-eyed Dr. John Tutay, 46, of Seminole wipes his eyes during the Nov. 30 Adoption Day ceremony at the Criminal Justice Complex in Clearwater. Tutay adopted biological siblings, Hailey, 7, left, and Michael, 24 months. His sister, Ann Marie Tutay, right, films the event.
[Image]
Photo by ALEXANDRA LUNDAHL
The Tutay family, Michael, 26 months, Hailey, 7, and Dr. John of Seminole show off their congratulatory cake that they were given in honor of their adoption day, Nov. 30, 2012.
[Image]
Photo by ALEXANDRA LUNDAHL
Judge Raymond Gross poses with Charity, 7; Stacey; Sierra, 2 1/2; and Charles Parker of Redington Shores. The Parkers adopted Charity two years ago and adopted Sierra on National Adoption Day Nov. 30.
[Image]
Photo by ALEXANDRA LUNDAHL
From left are Anthony Siegrist, 14; Terry Siegrist; Peyton Siegrist, 11; and Jessica Maldonado of Clearwater. Maldonado adopted Anthony on Adoption Day Nov. 30 during a ceremony at the Criminal Justice Complex in Clearwater. Anthony is taking the last name of Maldonado’s partner. Peyton is Siegrist’s biological son.
CLEARWATER – There were many smiles and tears in the Criminal Justice Complex in Clearwater Nov. 30, when 17 families finalized adoptions on Adoption Day.

It is the one-day a year when the courtroom is opened to the public and the press to let people see some of the many happy endings that Eckerd Youth Alternatives help make possible through their foster and adoption programs.

Dr. John Tutay, 46, of Seminole is the dentist at the jail. Although he has 12 godchildren, and loves kids, he is a single man who does not have any of his own.

He learned through a coworker than a little girl was in need of a home, and her mom was pregnant with another child. Tutay said for the mom to have the baby and he will raise both children as his own. Hailey, now 7, did much of the work raising her little brother, Michael, now 26 months, for his first year of life. A protective big sister, she wanted to make sure their new dad got it right.

“She knows how to diaper him, change him, feed him, knows what size his diapers are, bathe him,” Tutay said. “The first time I changed him, she said, ‘That better be the real Desitin, not that generic brand because that will make him break out worse.’ You thought I’d forgotten that. Nope, nope nope.”

Tutay and his siblings, Ann Marie and Frank, were the last Tutays and thought their name would die with them. John is thrilled to now have children of his own and that his family will continue into the next generation.

Another happy family is Jessica Maldonado and her partner, Terry Siegrist of Clearwater. They have been together for about nine years and each has biological children of their own. They tried in vitro therapy to have children together, but Jessica miscarried twice, she said. When in 2008 it became legal for same-sex couples to adopt, they decided that this could be a good option for them to pursue.

Never did they imagine that the boy who would come into their life was already like family.

Their new son, Anthony, 14 – who is taking the Siegrist last name but is being legally adopted by Maldonado – used to be over at their house all the time when he was younger because he was best friends with Siegrist’s son.

“Back in those years when he was coming to our house and spending hours and weekends there, we had jokingly said, ‘If no one is looking for him, we’ll keep him,’ because nobody was looking for him,” Maldonado said. “And here we are reconnected with him.”

The couple had been in the process of looking to adopt, and one day Siegrist was looking at The Heart Gallery of Pinellas, which features pictures and bios of children in need of adoption.

“She calls me frantically, going, ‘Oh my god, this is our Anthony,’” Maldonado said.

When they met, Anthony recognized them in about three seconds, he said. It was a perfect fit right away.

Stacey and Charles Parker of Redington Shores also had a happy Adoption Day. Two years ago, they adopted their first daughter, Charity, who is now 7. They had decided that they wanted to foster kids before they considered having kids of their own, Stacey said. They did not go into it necessarily planning to adopt, but Charity was their very first placement, the bond was just right, and when she became available for adoption, they knew she had to be part of their family.

The Parkers also have Sierra, now age 2 1/2, since she was only 14 days old. She is another special child who fit perfectly into their family, and they were thrilled to adopt her officially on Adoption Day.

Charity said she is happy that her sister is being adopted.

“She’s nice, and she says she loves me with all her heart,” Charity said.

She also added that she and her sister love sharing with each other, especially their toys and stuffed animals.
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