ELIZABETH, NJ — Tammi and Todd Oberstein made official the adoption of a 15-month-old girl.
Genna is the newest member of the family from Westfield, which was among those from across Union County at the courthouse’s Cherry Street Annex Friday for the official adoption proceedings for half-a-dozen children and celebrations for 18 recent adoptees.
“I had a student who was here today who was also adopted, and I was inspired by his story,” said Tammi Oberstein, who teaches yoga at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westfield. “That planted a seed, and Todd was also on board.”
“I thought our family was complete before, but it’s so much more complete now,” added Todd Oberstein, who could be found at courthouse with the family’s biological children Ella, 13, and Nate, 15.
Genna appeared to be enjoying a bagel while cradled in her new mother’s arms. She did not have any commentary for this reporter.
The Obersteins were among families to pose for photos with Heroes 4 Heroes, a group of Union County Correction officers who dress up as superheroes to raise funds for children with special needs and for events such as Adoption Day.
Representatives from Court Appointed Special Advocates, known as CASA, distributed gifts to the children, including those donated by the David Brearley High School in Kenilworth.
Gretchan Boger-O’Bryan, communications manager at CASA of Union County, which advocates for foster children, was at the event with fellow CASA advocates.
“Being removed from your home is traumatic. They may have been through abuse, neglect, whatever it may be,” Boger-O’Bryan said. “And then the process of foster care can add to that with the unknowns and multiple placements.”
CASA assigns volunteers to be with the children throughout the process to help counter those negative aspects, she said.
“There’s always that one face, a consistency,” Boger-O’Bryan said. “They know they’ve got somebody in their corner.” Last year, family court judges accepted 90% of the recommendations from CASA advocates, she noted.
Speaking to about 100 people gathered for the festivities, Judge Lisa F. Chrystal, presiding judge of the court’s Family Division, noted that the adoption is made possible through the work of case workers, various state agencies and adopting parents.
“It is the happiest day in the courthouse, and I’m happy that I too was able to preside over this docket, and not this year but in the past have done adoptions,” Chrystal said.
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