By Nancy Kennedy
Sunday, August 13, 2017 at 8:45 pm
It was a day made for banana pudding and a special song.
After 593 days, lots of diapers, bottles and binkies and a roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs navigating the adoption process, on Aug. 3, the Verlato family — parents Bobby and Heather and children Makayla, Makenzi and Madden — officially added 18-month-old twins Hutson and Brantley to their brood after being their foster family for the past 14 1/2 months.
They call it their “Gotcha Day.”
The day before the whole family went to the courthouse in Brooksville to make the twins’ adoption final, Heather Verlato posted a video on her Facebook page and wrote:
“I have waited 593 days to post this! Tomorrow we will stand before a judge and declare our love for you and make you forever Verlatos. The magnitude of this privilege could never be expressed in words! … But I do know this:
God chose some very important people to fly to the moon, to become doctors and teachers and to defend our country. But he didn’t ask me to do any of those things because he needed me to be available for an even more important job — God needed me to be your mommy!
Being your mom is a calling I will never take for granted. I will always thank God that he looked out into the great, wide world, that he looked at all the potential moms available, and he chose me! I don’t know why he chose me, but I know I won’t ever forget that he did. What a privilege!”
When Bobby, 41, and Heather, 34, opened their home as foster parents last year, they didn’t intend to adopt, but to help families be reunited with their children.
Their goal was to love the children placed in their care for as long as they had them, loving them as if they were their own.
The children they have fostered have come and gone, some to be reunited with their families, but the twins remained.
“With these two, there was always something about them,” Bobby Verlato said. “It was meant to be.”
“They’ve always felt like a part of the family, and now they’re really ours,” said Makayla Verlato, 15, the oldest Verlato child.
“When they became available for adoption, we already loved them,” Heather Verlato said. “We had had them for so long, and from the moment they came to us when they were 3½ months old, we felt like God chose them for us.”
However, as over-the-moon ecstatic as they are to be the twins’ forever family, they are also sobered by the knowledge that their joy is at the cost of another family’s tragedy.
“I feel like adoption is a huge blessing to a lot of families, but it’s also a tragedy for the families who have lost their children, lost their rights, however it happens.”
She said she does not take that lightly.
Theirs is a closed adoption, but they have chosen to stay in contact with the boys’ birth family, sharing photos and milestones with them.
Madden Verlato, 7, said Gotcha Day was fun -- he always wanted to be a big brother, and he has big dreams for the twins.
“We’re thinking they’re going to be soccer and baseball players,” he said. Madden plays soccer and baseball.
Dad Bobby, the athletic director at Crystal River High School, said he envisions a future shortstop and second base duo for a “double play combo.”
“They’re already picking up balls,” Heather said.
Of the two, Hutson is the more mischievous. He likes to get into things and loves to figure things out. They’ve nicknamed him “Hercules.”
Brantley is more mellow and reserved and likes to cuddle.
“They talk to us a lot, and they talk to each other,” Heather said. “They have their own ‘twin conversations’ that we would love to know what they’re saying.”
Heather said she is collecting photos and memories, saving them up for the day they will be old enough to learn about how they became Verlatos, that on Thursday, Aug. 3, in matching bow ties, with their hair styled like their big brother, Madden, they went to the courthouse in Brooksville and were legally adopted.
Then the whole family went out to breakfast to celebrate and the next day were the guests of honor at a “gotcha party” with extended family and friends - and banana pudding.
“It was exciting and it was happy, because I wasn’t worried anymore that they might not be adopted,” said 9-year-old Makenzi Verlato. “Now I feel happy.”
Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.