The Warren-based service has placed more than 900 special-needs children in Northeast Ohio.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- Edward and Martha Fortune were concerned about empty-nest syndrome when the last of their five biological children was getting ready to leave home.
So they did something about it.
During the past 10 years, the Fortunes have kept their five-bedroom home in Sebring full by adopting 11 physically or mentally handicapped children with the help of Northeast Ohio Adoption Services, which has offices in Warren and Maple Heights.
"It's been a great experience," Martha Fortune said. "I can't imagine life without kids. If we didn't adopt, it would be just my husband and me rattling around the house. The kids keep us busy.
"We took two boys in, and it grew from there. Now we just say we can put another bed in the house so we can take another one, and our family keeps growing."
The Fortunes were among those attending a reunion Saturday of families who used the services of NOAS to adopt children.
Services: Since NOAS opened in 1978, the nonprofit agency, which does not charge a fee for adoption placement, has matched more than 900 special-needs children with families in Northeast Ohio homes, said Judy McCartney, its director of communications.
NOAS not only places children with adopted parents, it provides classes, training and support services, McCartney said.
Mary Brooks of Akron, who works as a NOAS marketing consultant after using the agency's services to adopt two boys, said her children are her biggest blessings.
"I can't describe the joy it has brought me," she said. "The bonds you create are as strong as you would have with biological children."
Nile and Gene Mason of Warren adopted a son about 11 years ago with the help of NOAS.
"It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it," Nile Mason said about raising his adoptive son, now 20. "We had a lot of things to get through like anyone else. But raising an adoptive child is the same as raising a biological child. It was a great experience."
Events: NOAS is holding open houses at its Warren office at 5000 E. Market St., Suite 26, to provide information to families who are considering adopting a child. The events are set for 4-8 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 20.
For more information about NOAS, call (330) 856-5582, Ext. 126.