One of more than 700 foster children in Erie County received a special gift in Family Court on Tuesday, just in time for the holidays.
Ann Marie Moriarty Pieber and Frank Pieber’s dream came true when Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin announced, “I hereby order that the name of this child be changed to Juliana Aveleen Pieber and that she is hereby adopted.”
Four year old Juliana spent nearly 1,000 days in Erie County’s foster care system – most of them with the Piebers. The Williamsville couple decided to become foster parents when they found out they couldn’t have their own biological children. As a social worker, Moriarty Pieber said she knew there were a lot of children that needed care in Erie County.
When Juliana came to the Piebers, they didn’t expect an adoption to come out of it, but were hoping for it.
“She was pretty much the perfect child for us,” said Moriarty Pieber. “We have a really good relationship with her birth mom. She was a teen mom and probably after about a year and a half she signed over her rights to us.”
Juliana’s birth mother still gets to see her daughter four times a year. Moriarty Pieber said having two mothers makes Juliana a special child.
“She needs to know who she is and where she came from and it takes a village,” said Moriarty Pieber. “I believe that there’s so many children out there that deserve this opportunity. People should do foster care and know that sometimes birth parents can’t always do it alone and we can all do it together.”
Lara Sweeney is Juliana’s Adoption Unit Case Worker with the Erie County Department of Social Services. She said seeing a child through the adoption process can be challenging.
“There are always barriers that come up working in family court – issues with biological families and things like that. For foster families who are looking to adopt, just know that it can be a long process. Patience is key, but I think the end product is worth it,” said Sweeney.
In addition to long-term care for Juliana, the Piebers have provided short-term preventive foster care to a number of other children. Moriarty Pieber said they hope to help more young children in Erie County and make a difference in their formative years.
Frank Pieber is also the father of the late Owen Pieber – a child well-known for his fight against cancer and the program Owen’s Toybox, which supports sick children and their families.
“Owen is always very special in Western New York, as far as I’m concerned,” said Pieber. “His legacy is helping a lot of children. We wanted to continue that somewhat in our family helping children with foster care and the opportunity came up for us to keep Juliana and we of course we’re doing it.”
Moriarty Pieber said the end of Juliana’s adoption process means lots of happy days, no more court dates, and the joy of knowing that she has her first official child.
Along with the gift of adoption the Piebers all received, Ann Marie and Frank gave Juliana another gift to last a lifetime – her middle name, Aveleen. Moriarty Pieber said it is the Gaelic translation for, “The long awaited child.”