| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Families thankful for addition via adoption

By the numbers

Annual adoptions through the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau

•2009: 29 children

•2010: 37 children

•2011: 45 children

•2012: 46 children

•2013, through late November: 42 children

Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Two Westmoreland County families need look no farther than the faces of their adopted children to find the true meaning of being thankful.

The parents, who have all finalized adoptions within the past five weeks, traveled different paths, but ended their journeys in the same place — standing before a judge to explain why they should raise the children who had been placed under the supervision of the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau for various reasons.

When Mary Piper stepped before that judge, the Derry Township woman was already emotional about the prospect of adopting her grandchildren, Alyssa, 5, and Cody, 3.

“Can you tell the court why you want to adopt?” asked Children's Bureau Solicitor Chuck Wade.

“Because I love them,” Piper said through tears.

While awaiting the judge's decision, Cody, dressed in a white turtleneck and a sweater vest emblazoned with a fire truck, sat on his grandfather's lap and Alyssa sat next to her adoptive mother-to-be wearing a polka dot sweater dress and pink leggings, her blonde hair in a ponytail.

“I love these kids, I'm very lucky to have them both,” Roger Piper said.

And then came word from the judge.

“It is in their best interests, I approve their adoption,” ruled Judge Chris Scherer. “Enjoy it as much as you can today.”

Thus far in 2013, 42 children have been adopted through the Children's Bureau, according to county records.

The ultimate goal for these children is reunification with their biological parents, said casework supervisor Molly Ridilla.

But sometimes that isn't in the child's best interest and caseworkers try to identify someone within the family to act as a foster parent until the parents' rights to the child can be terminated, either voluntarily or by a judge, Ridilla said.

A foster family outside of the family is a last resort, she said.

Fostering can eventually lead to adoption, a process that takes about two years, Ridilla said.

Judge Christopher Feliciani, who has presided over numerous adoptions in his 10 years on the bench, said the adoption ceremonies signal a start to lives of security and stability for the children.

“The reason adoptions are so meaningful is because it brings finality to what, often times, are years of broken memories, changes in placements and turmoil these children endure,” Feliciani said.

For Josie Bortz of Salem, the decision to adopt her 2-year-old niece was simple.

When she began caring for Lily in June 2011, when the baby was 3 months old, Bortz learned by trial-and-error about how to care for the infant with the help of family and friends.

“I have never even got to be her aunt, I've always been her mom,” Bortz said about the energetic little blonde girl whose favorite stuffed animal is a dog named “Woof Woof.”

Bortz and her financé, Cory Morgan, have a son, 2-year-old Dean. Lily was officially adopted on Oct. 30.

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




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Ex-assistant at Penn-Trafford pleads guilty to sending inappropriate texts
  2. Greensburg will provide interpreter for soccer program
  3. Walker: Scottdale Fall Festival kicks off this weekend
  4. Bicyclist injured in collision with construction vehicle
  5. A Griffins great: Seton Hill soccer team supports 7-year-old honorary member
  6. Southmoreland student injured in school assault
  7. Derry planning commission member joins council
  8. Mt. Pleasant hospital sets ‘exceptional’ example
  9. Ligonier Township man jailed in alleged assault of police chief
  10. Podlucky mansion in Ligonier Township will go to sheriff’s sale
  11. Gluten-Free Living Support Group meetings in Mt. Pleasant open to all
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.