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All in the family August 22, 2010

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.

“Make sure you thank everybody.” Austin is normally pretty good about expressing his appreciation, but I quietly offered that reminder out of concern he might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. He had just finished opening presents in celebration of his 17th birthday, and our guests had been quite generous.

"Happy birthday, Austin Edward Stella!" The cake maker had difficulty cramming it all on.

As he started to speak, the sudden hitch in his voice caught us all a bit by surprise. He was clearly becoming emotional and struggling to find the right words.

Quiet spread amongst our guests—a mix of family and good friends who have remained our biggest supporters—and I would later learn that more than a few of their eyes were already welling up with tears. I approached Austin in case he needed my support.

Austin started by telling everyone how far he had progressed as a person. Around this time last year, he was preparing for discharge from Ramey Estep, a group home located in eastern Kentucky where he had spent 14 months. The staff there, he said, was instrumental in overcoming some negative attributes that Austin had acquired during years of personal upheaval. Thanks to their efforts he felt that, if given the opportunity, he was prepared to join a family.

That opportunity would come several months later. “I remember hearing that some guy from New York wanted to adopt me, and at first I thought it seemed kind of creepy,” he said, eliciting laughter from our guests.

But then he talked about reading the letter I wrote to him, and how there was something in my words—an expression of support and encouragement—that seemed to strike a chord. “I decided that I wanted to meet him.”

Now, just 8 months since our very first encounter in Lexington, Austin and I are officially father and son. The celebration of his birthday coincided with the finalization of his adoption only two days prior. As a result, he now takes on an extended family—individuals who are elated to add him to the ranks of cousin, nephew and grandson.

Looking out at many of those family members in front of him, Austin suddenly had little difficulty expressing his appreciation. “I know what it feels like,” he said,  “to be truly loved.”

Welcome to the family, Austin Edward Stella! You are indeed truly loved.



1. Anna Vulaj Fitzsimmons - August 22, 2010

Wow, Paul – you a have a wonderful son with a beautiful spirit. God bless you and your family, and happy birthday Austin!

2. Maureen - August 22, 2010

Another great story! I just love happy stories!!!

3. Debbie Ferris - August 22, 2010

Oh Paul, what a beautiful story and we are just so happy for you and Austin! Both of you are truly blessed to have found one another.

Austin, from some of your extended family we would like to say WELCOME and hope to meet you soon!!!!

4. Tracy Davidson - August 23, 2010

Wow your going to make me cry this morning. Happy Birthday and congratulations on your adoption. You will a role model for many people who are wanting to adopt.

5. Stellavision: 2010 in review « Stellavision - January 2, 2011

[…] All in the family August 2010 4 comments LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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