Families welcome new members on Adoption Day in Westmoreland County |

Families welcome new members on Adoption Day in Westmoreland County

Brian F. Henry | Trib Total Media
Nia Pearce, 2, of Derry; her mother, Amber; father, John; sister, Abby, 1, and brother, Jase, 7, rejoice after Nia was officially adopted into their family Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, during a ceremony in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg.
Brian F. Henry | Trib Total Media
Jasmine Falat, 6, of Latrobe; her mother, Kathryn; and father, Gregory, bang Judge Harry Smail Jr.’s gavel to make her adoption official during a ceremony in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

Nia Pearce ran around a Westmoreland County courtroom Wednesday as Judge Chris Scherer finalized her adoption.

Moments before, the 2-year-old had been sitting attentively on the lap of Amber Pearce, her adoptive mother.

“She’s my daughter,” the Derry woman said from the witness box during an adoption ceremony. “She’s been my daughter since birth.”

Three families welcomed new additions as part of Adoption Day in Westmoreland County, bringing the total number of children adopted this year in the county to 32.

The celebratory atmosphere marked the end of months of work by the families to adopt the children they had been fostering.

“In family court, we don’t often get very many good days,” Judge Harry Smail Jr. said at a reception after the ceremonies.

Pictures were taken and hugs shared when Kathryn and Gregory Falat of Latrobe adopted their second daughter this year. Jasmine, 6, officially became part of the family Wednesday, preceded by Faith, 13, in January, Kathryn Falat said.

“We’re excited about it,” she said. “We couldn’t imagine our life without them.”

The Falats each have two biological children. Jasmine lived with the Falat family for about 18 months before Smail granted the adoption.

Westmoreland County has led the way in Pennsylvania during the past two years in timely achievement of permanency, Children’s Bureau Director Shara Saveikis said, referencing data analyzed by consulting firm Hornby Zeller Associates.

The Westmoreland County commissioners offered their congratulations during the reception.

“What a great lead-in to a Thanksgiving weekend,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said before reading a proclamation.

Most children are placed in homes within their family, Saveikis said. If a family member is not available to care for the child, an outside foster home is found, she said.

In Amber Pearce’s case, she and her husband, John, welcomed great-niece Nia to their crew more than a year ago. The couple has three biological children ranging in age from 7 to 1.

Being a foster child herself, Amber Pearce said she had no reservations about providing a loving home for the girl.

“The first moment I saw her I fell in love,” Pearce recalled, adding that the support of local agencies during the past several months made the process easy. “You have to have patience to be able to adopt.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or [email protected].

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