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Cuyahoga County judge makes it her mission to continue adoptions despite court closure

Posted at 8:49 AM, Apr 22, 2020

CLEVELAND — When the Cuyahoga County courts closed to public access on March 15, one judge knew one thing she wouldn’t stop—adoptions.

For the last few weeks, Judge Laura Gallagher has been video conferencing with families to finalize their adoptions. They’ve gone through months, sometimes years of waiting, so she didn’t want to wait any longer.

“I don't know that we've ever had to continue an adoption, I've driven through incredible snowstorms,” said Cuyahoga County Probate Court Judge Laura Gallagher. “I remember a few years ago it took me 2.5 hours to get to the courthouse and my family was there waiting we just don't continue or delay adoptions if we don't have to, it's so important to these families to have that finalization."

Judge Gallagher has done six virtual adoptions so far. Families who have already completed their home studies are the ones who are eligible One of those families is the Hales, who welcomed their daughter Priyanka to their family.

“When they called and said hey if you guys are comfortable we can move forward with it, and we’re like yeah let’s do it and we 've been looking for excuses to get dressed up for the day so,” said Martin and Emily Hale.

The court is now working on ways to help more families do home visits safely so they can move forward with the adoption process as well.

“It’s a bright light in an otherwise very dreary week these days to be able to meet with these families and see some joy,” said Gallagher.