YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The coronavirus has forced many of us to use technology to connect with people in ways we never have before. On Friday, a unique experience inside the Mahoning County Probate Court helped a local family grow.
It isn’t something you see online every day, in fact, it’s a first for Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert Rusu.
“Therefore, this court is happy, ecstatic to grant this adoption,” Judge Rusu said.
Erin Rose Gambrel was born in August in Arizona. Her new parents, Megan and Matt Gambrel, of Poland, adopted Erin’s older sister Allie on Good Friday one year ago.
When they discovered they could have a virtual adoption ceremony, they took advantage of it.
“We thought it was a good idea since everybody would still be able to see each other and we didn’t want to put off a happy occasion,” Megan said.
Both parents are local attorneys. As it happened, the lawyer for the birth mother reached out to them since the couple had already adopted her other daughter, Allie.
“We had no hesitation for getting another child from this woman,” Matt said.
The equipment and software needed for virtual hearings was purchased using an $11,000 grant from the Ohio Supreme Court.
Judge Rusu admits that the coronavirus pandemic is causing delays in many cases. He says some courts may ultimately need months or even years to clear the backlog.
“So I didn’t want to stop this process. I know the family is always looking for closure, they want the finality,” Judge Rusu said.
Judge Rusu says the new software could prove to be a silver lining of sorts.