Sitting with chins nestled in hands, a 9-year-old boy and his younger brother looked on as their parents signed adoption papers during a group ceremony Monday at the Long Island Children's Museum in East Garden City.
"My name is Gregory Taylor, like them," the older boy proudly proclaimed, pointing to Richard and Eugenia Taylor of Hempstead.
Richard, 68, a retired New York City Transit worker, and Eugenia, 56, a New York City Board of Education employee, had been foster parents to Gregory and his brother, Jeremiah, 4, for nearly two years. The couple, who have five grandchildren, decided they wanted to be parents again.
"When we met these two guys, we just fell in love with them," said Eugenia Taylor, beaming with joy.
In recognition of National Adoption Day, which was Saturday, Nassau County Family Court Monday finalized the adoption of 18 children, most of whom had been in the county's foster care system. Suffolk County Family Court in Central Islip held a similar event Friday to complete the adoption of 24 children.
There are 460 children in foster care in Nassau, said Karen Garber, program coordinator for the Office of Consumer & Public Information. When efforts to reunite children with biological parents or other relatives fail, she said, children are placed for adoption.
There are three children - two are 18 years old, the third 13 - waiting for a permanent home, she said.
Suffolk has 702 children in foster care and six awaiting adoption. Four years ago, Bridget and Joe Kateridge of Seaford set out to be foster parents and have provided a home for four children, including a boy they adopted Monday.
"We love him so much," said Bridget Kateridge, 36, holding her 19-month-old son, Peter Michael Kateridge. "My life is complete now."
Joe Kateridge, 45, a Long Island Rail Road supervisor, said the boy's biological parents asked him and his wife to adopt the boy. "They felt that he would be in a better place with a more stable family," he said.
Fred and Maria Wright of Long Beach met their son, Alvin, when he was 6 weeks old. At the time, he was being cared for by a foster family friendly with the Kateridges.
"We fell in love with him and didn't have the ability to put on our emotional brakes," said Fred Wright, 49, a school principal in Queens.
Alvin, now 3, who has been living with the Wrights for more than two years, officially became their son Monday. The couple, who has a daughter, Noemi, also 3, plans to add a third child to the family.
"I feel great," said Maria Wright, 40, a school psychologist in Freeport. "It's been a long time coming and we're just so excited."