Youngsters find their forever homes during Adoption Day at the courthouse

‘For this child, we have prayed.’ – 1 Samuel 1:27

That line of scripture was printed on the T-shirt worn by Cummins Inc. employee Charles Fugate when he appeared before Bartholomew County Juvenile Magistrate Brittney Long Wednesday morning for an adoption request.

At Fugate’s side was his biological great-nephew, Remington “Remy” Crouch. The toddler, who will turn 2 in January, had a different message printed on his shirt:

‘Answered prayer.’

After a year-long adoption process, Charles Fugate’s prayer was answered moments after Long brought the toddler up to the bench and gave him the gavel. The second that Remy banged it, the little boy became Remington Sawyer Fugate, Charles’ son.

Two adult women who are close friends of Charles Fugate had the same biblical quote on their shirts. Carol Zopfe and her daughter, Shelby, said they have agreed to play an active role in raising Remy.

“It’s a crazy situation, but we love Remy so much,” Carol Zopfe told the judge. “He’s going to be so loved and taken care of.”

Fugate’s attorney during the adoption process, Grant Kirsh, said getting to an adoption in an (Indiana Department of Child Services) case is not an easy thing to do.

“Charles has been so invested in his nephew,” Kirsh said. “During our entire time working together, Charles fought very hard for this day.”

Susie Hodnett, a case manager and supervisor for the Indiana Department of Child Services, told the court she has handled Remy’s case since the day he was born.

“(Remy) is absolutely where he needs to be – in his forever home,” Hodnett told the judge, adding that she has seen Remy grow and flourish with the love and care of his new father and other family members.

Wednesday was National Adoption Day, which is observed in Columbus with the finalization of multiple adoptions at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

A half-hour before the Fugate adoption, 11-year-old Destani Freeman became Destani McClellan, the new daughter of Ginger McClellan, in what became a standing room only event in the courtroom.

Destani has also become the sister of another adopted child, 6-year-old Jamison McClellan. She has been living as a foster child under her new mother’s roof for more than two years.

“(Destani) has always been considered family, and she’s been loved since Day 1,” Ginger McClellan regarding her new daughter. “So we are just making it legal today that she now has a forever home.”

As Destani grows from a fifth grader at Clifty Creek Elementary into her adolescence, her single mother will have a tremendous support system provided by several members of the Community Church of Columbus, according to Jennifer Hanley, an Indianapolis attorney who represented Ginger in the adoption.

Many of the 60 people in attendance, as well as 10 individuals who witnessed the adoption through video conferencing, are either members to the church or part of Ginger’s family, Hanley said. Others who witnessed the adoption were former teachers and case workers with the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Long expressed admiration for Destani, who has been through a great deal, including custody battles, Hanley said.

“You are loved beyond words. and have touched so many people in your short life,” the magistrate told the 11-year-old. “You have shown self-confidence and perseverance. You’ve gone through a lot of things that no one should have to go through, and you came out stronger.”

Following the hearing, Destani said she was feeling very good and extremely happy.

“I feel more confident that I’m part of the family,” Destani said.

And like a lot of real family, the 11-year-old said she finds her new little brother annoying at times – but loves him anyway.

To view a link of adoption day photos, visit:…rtholomew-county/