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For Rocky Point couple, adoptions come before retirement

Rachel Hearn-Somma, 68, and her husband, Joseph, 67,

Rachel Hearn-Somma, 68, and her husband, Joseph, 67, both of Rocky Point, are raising their second set of adopted children, two boys ages 11 and 12. Their other two adopted children are now adults. The photo was taken during a July 2015 camp-closing ceremony that the couple's sons, Alex and Max, participated in at Baiting Hollow Boy Scout camp in Calverton. Credit: Instagram / Rachel Hearn-Somma

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Rachel Hearn-Somma's 12-year-old son is a Lego master who loves to get dirty from head to toe. Her other boy, 11, plays the violin and can figure sales tax in his head.

Both are Boy Scouts and, by all accounts, turning out just right.

They're the second set of adopted children -- 20 years apart -- for Rachel and her husband, Joseph.

About five years ago, the Rocky Point couple started parenting youngsters again at a time when most people their age are poised for retirement.

"It's not over for me. I love my kids. . . . I think life is boring without them," said Rachel, 68, a retired special education teacher.

The boys were siblings in foster care in California when the couple found them. Alex is now a seventh-grader at Rocky Point Middle School, where Max is in sixth grade.

For Rachel, raising a family hasn't been easy. There were early emotional scars. Her first child died hours after being born prematurely. Then doctors told her that due to medical issues, the odds of her having a healthy baby were slim.

"I was a mess for years because I was the kind of person that loved kids," she said.

After her first marriage ended in 1981, she began thinking about adoption.

Four years later, newborn Erica, given up by her mother in the Bronx, entered Rachel's life, making her a single mom.

In 1991, she added a son, adopting 8-month-old Ben from an impoverished family in Guatemala.

She moved in 1995 from Manhattan to Ronkonkoma, where she could buy a home. That year she met Joseph Somma at a weekly Hauppauge dance for single and divorced parents. He was divorced with two teenage sons. They fell in love and soon wed.

Now 29, Erica is on disability with severe asthma and lives at home. Ben, 24, an Army corporal, is based in El Paso, Texas.

"They have good values," Rachel said.

But their mother found herself longing to help more disadvantaged children. She thought of the special needs toddlers she taught at St. Mary's Children's Hospital in Bayside, Queens.

"Your heart goes out to them. You just want to take them home," she said.

So Rachel talked to her husband about adopting again. He didn't hesitate.

"I just felt there was a need out there, and if the Lord was willing to allow us at this age to adopt, I was going to go along with her," said Joseph, 67, a retired Virginia sheriff's deputy.

When Alex and Max were old enough, the couple enrolled them in the Boy Scouts, which had helped mold Ben.

In July, Rachel took a photograph of her younger sons during a flag-folding ceremony at Baiting Hollow Scout Camp in Calverton.

"They're a gift," she said.

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