By ED RUNYAN
The Bahn family, now one person larger, was well represented at the Trumbull County Courthouse on Thursday for Adoption Day — a day each year when several adoptions are finalized and celebrated.
Exactly 24 Bahn family members were in attendance to welcome Dejalynn, 5, into the family of David and Gennifer Bahn of Liberty.
Those numbers weren’t just for show.
Gennifer’s sister Gina Holloway and her husband, Rich, say family and church define David and Gennifer and explain the reason why their two adoptions and several other foster children have been so successful.
“All of those kids who came in — they love them unconditionally, and the family loves them, and our church always accepts them. They just fit in,” Rich said after the ceremony.
“No matter how long they’re there — even if it’s just for a few days,” Gina said.
Rich said Dejalynn, a cute, little, tutu-wearing blonde born to parents in Sharon, Pa., who were unable to care for her, was “kind of shy” when she first came to live with the Bahns.
“There were a lot of trust issues, but with the love of the family and the church, she warmed right up. Now she’s very outgoing, very trusting. She always wants to give everybody a hug,” Rich said.
The Bahns, who have an 11-year-old biological daughter named Geordan, also adopted 14-year-old Chantel four years ago after serving as her foster parents since she was 5.
Dejalyn was placed with the Bahns in April 2010.
“She has adjusted well to the Bahn home and has bonded well with her sisters and her adoptive parents. The Bahn home is very warm and welcoming,” said Diane Harris, an adoption worker for Trumbull County Children Services.
“Dejalyn is a healthy child,” Harris said during the ceremony. “When she went to the Bahn home, she had asthma but now only requires occasional medication. She’s an endearing child who is greatly loved. She is truly part of a loving family and identifies this family as hers.”
According to Gennifer, it has become apparent after a certain passage of time that their relationship with some of their foster children should be permanent.
“When they come in through foster care, they just get to know your family, and if they fit, you let [Children Services] know that if the child becomes available, you want to adopt them,” she said.
“They bonded very quickly and very well,” David said of two adopted children and the rest of the family. “And they just became a part of the family.”
TeeYonna McQueen of Liberty also was adopting for the second time Thursday. Two years ago she adopted 3-year-old KaRon, and now has Kaleb, 18 months.
Kaleb, whose birth parents could not care for him, went to live with his grandmother at first, then went to live with McQueen 13 months ago.
“Adoption was something I always wanted to do,” McQueen said. “I got my foster-parenting license in May, I met KaRon in June, and he was living with us in July,” she said of her older son. McQueen also has a 16-year-old daughter, Kionna, who took care of KaRon throughout the ceremony.
Kaleb, meanwhile, smiled and wandered freely through the front of the courtroom, entertaining the large audience with his sunny disposition.
He wandered over and made friends with Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel, who placed him on the empty chair beside him.
“I can’t imagine my life without them,” McQueen said after the ceremony. “They’re a perfect fit, and they’re good boys.”
Brett and Margie Clingan of Champion also adopted for the second time Thursday, adding 15-month-old Cole to their family. He’s the biological brother of Zoe, 4, whom the Clingans adopted two years ago. Cole and Zoe have the same coloring but not a similar build. Zoe is small in stature, while Cole is large for his age.
“Cole is a happy toddler who will soon meet all developmental milestones,” said Malleen Cunning, a Children Services adoption worker.
Brett, who is retired after serving in Iraq with Army in 2004 and 2005, uses a wheelchair because of a neurological disorder that first became apparent in Iraq.
Clingan said he looks forward to raising two children who he believes will be “great citizens of the United States,” aided, he hopes, by the free college education they will receive as a result of his disability.