Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

Adoption Day: Parents and children celebrate the end of a long journey

Single and 46, John Tutay was certain he wanted to be a father, but the odds of that happening were narrowing. So it was with tears and a sense of triumph that he exited a Clearwater courtroom on Friday and donned a T-shirt made for the occasion. "Proud New Daddy," it read.

Two-year-old Michael rested in his arms and, by his side, stood freckled 7-year-old Hailey, her white tulle dress unusually glamorous for the county's Criminal Justice Center. Tutay, a dentist, was working at the county jail when he learned from the children's grandmother that they were placed up for adoption.

They, too, had special shirts that read: "This is what a Tutay looks like."

Adoption hearings are usually closed-door affairs, but on Friday, Pinellas officials brought together more than a dozen families to publicly celebrate the ninth annual Adoption Day. Families packed courtroom benches where they waited to make a brief appearance before a judge, the final step in what can be a years-long process.

Child-welfare workers from Eckerd Youth Alternatives and child advocates looked on, watching the adoption proceedings for children they have shepherded through years in the foster system.

Some found "forever families" in total strangers; some were going to live with relatives or neighbors; and some children had spent years with foster families who had never before been able to officially adopt them.

Across Florida, there are 750 children up for adoption. Of those, 120 are in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Terry Siegrist, 40, did not expect to recognize any of their faces when she scrolled through the pictures posted online of children available for adoption. But she did, and it startled her.

"I was just looking at the picture and thinking where did I know this kid from," she said. "And I'm just staring and staring and staring until I realized: 'Oh my god, it's our Anthony."

She had known Anthony as her son's elementary school playmate — a friend who came over to play Wii and Mario Kart and often stayed for sleepovers at her and her partner Jessica Maldonado's Clearwater home.

"We used to jokingly say to each other, if nobody is looking for him, we'll take him," Maldonado said.

After they moved, they lost touch with the boy and for five years they had no idea what became of him, unaware that in 2008 his parents' drug abuse led to his placement in the foster system.

When Siegrist spotted his face, the couple, who have been together for nine years, knew they had to adopt him even though they had planned to bring a younger child into the family.

Anthony has been living with them since June and, on Friday, Maldonado legally became his mother.

"Everything just kind of aligned," she said. "I love our story."

Comments
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 4 hours ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Shutdown opens week

Shutdown opens week

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The government shutdown will extend into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

More inmates died in Florida prisons last year than in any other year on record, leaving the state scrambling to identify causes and find solutions. The tally, 428 inmate deaths in 2017, was released late Friday by the Florida Department of Correctio...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gather

DAVOS, Switzerland — A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday. In advanc...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Amazon opens cashier-less store in Seattle

SEATTLE — Amazon employees have been testing it, but is the public ready for a cashier-less store? More than a year after it introduced the concept, Amazon is opening its artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store today in downtown Seattle. The ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
At second St. Petersburg Women’s March, 5,000 focus on

At second St. Petersburg Women’s March, 5,000 focus on "what we can do"

ST. PETERSBURGNear Mirror Lake, as protesters posed for pictures, hung signs on their dogs and distributed chant scripts just after noon Sunday, Linda Pair and her friend Beth Gavin arrived to march.Asked why she came out, Pair, 72, of Largo put it b...
Updated: 7 hours ago
USF women blow late lead, lose at Wichita State

USF women blow late lead, lose at Wichita State

WICHITA — USF led by eight points in the fourth quarter but went cold, and Wichita State pulled off the upset 64-56 Sunday afternoon in a potentially costly loss for the Bulls.USF (15-5, 5-2 American Athletic Conference) missed 14 of its last 15 fiel...
Updated: 7 hours ago