Courthouses closed, but adoption continues via zoom for one Northern Ky. family

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KENTON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Coronavirus restrictions aren’t just keeping families physically apart, it’s keeping them from being made.

Courts aren’t open to legalize adoptions right now, but the Galbraith family in Kenton County family found a way around that.

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In the Galbraith family there are three biological siblings, 22, 20 and 11 years old, plus an open door to nearly 15 foster kids since 2015.

About three years in, one teenager came through their door and never moved back out.

“Caleb was just like a missing piece in our family,” 11-year-old Zane said.

“He felt like part of the family when he came, he fit in really well,” Taylor, the oldest, said.

And Caleb agreed, he felt like he clicked.

Kentucky has a chronically high number of kids in foster care. Right now, non-profit DCCH Center for Families says there are 10,000 Kentucky kids listed in the system.

The DCCH Center is how the Galbraith got started fostering kids and eventually meeting Caleb.

The goal in foster care is to hopefully get kids back to a biological relative, but that doesn’t always happen.

Caleb was approved for adoption summer 2019.

Last week, it was finally time to make it official, but the courthouse is closed because of coronavirus restrictions. So, virtual was the next best option.

Trish is the mother of the family. She said Zoom was offered as an alternative to going to court in-person and she jumped at it.

“So, we’re like, well, why not? Right? We just wanted it to be official, however way,” she said.

Something dad, Gary, said ended up being a better than expected experience.

Ron Bertsch with the DCCH Center believes it’s the first zoom adoption in Kentucky.

A milestone normally celebrated with a party, but again COVID-19 regulations getting in the way. So mom, thought one better…Why not ask the governor to share the good news? On Friday at his daily coronavirus update, he did.

“Congrats Caleb. Congrats to the Galbraith family, and thanks for opening your heart and your home to a child who needed it,” he said.

The family, Caleb said, was exactly who he needed.

“I came from a difficult time before I met them. And they gave me that different perspective on life and what it should be and what a family actually is,” Caleb said.

A family connected by more than blood.

“You can’t really imagine what this is like. Because it’s better than anything I could’ve imagined,” he said.

Once a stranger, now a Galbraith, a missing piece finally found they couldn’t imagine life without.

Even before the official adoption Caleb started sharing his story with other families looking to DCCH Center for advice.

Bertsch says Caleb has grown tremendously after moving in with the Galbraith’s in 2018.

“He would have never been able to do that at the beginning and now he can stand up and and share and speak on his story,” Bertsch said.

The Galbraith family said everything worked out for a reason and they’re grateful to have met Caleb when they did and encourage others to become foster parents.

“You go into it thinking that you’re going to be the one doing most of the teaching, but each kid that comes into your house teaches you something different about yourself and betters you,” Trish said.

If you want more information on how to become a foster parent/family you can contact DCCH Center for Families if you’re in Northern Kentucky. Or if you live in another area you can directly get more information from the state.

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com