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Lodi couple brings adopted baby into new, loving family

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Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2001 10:00 pm

Valerie and Richard Mahoney saw a 2-week-old baby who was up for adoption earlier this year and immediately decided he was the one they wanted.

"They said, 'Go home and talk it over,' " said Richard Mahoney.

The Lodi couple didn't go home and think about it. They decided the baby was the perfect one for them.

Now more than 10 months old, Davis Ian Mahoney was welcomed into the Mahoney household on Nov. 10 through San Joaquin County's third annual "Adoption Saturday," which finalized multiple adoptions in a single morning.

Valerie, Richard and Davis Mahoney couldn't be happier.

"To me, raising children is exciting, watching them grow up and do the things they do," Valerie Mahoney said.

Young Davis comes into a rather unusual family. For one thing, he has a nephew who a year older than he is.

That stems from Valerie Mahoney deciding to adopt a child at the age of 48. She has three grown children from a previous marriage. Husband Richard, 39, also has a daughter from a previous marriage.

Davis' 2-year-old nephew, Quentin Lawrence, usually spends each day at the Mahoney household while Quentin's mother, Clar Lawrence, who is Valerie Mahoney's daughter, teaches at Lawrence Elementary School in Lodi.

Davis Mahoney and Quentin Lawrence get along famously and play together all day while Quentin's mom is at school.

"They are really like brothers," Valerie Mahoney said.

So much that young Davis has missed his playmate this month.

Quentin and Clar Lawrence are home this

month, however, because Mom is off-track from her teaching assignment.

The Mahoneys initially talked about having a child of their own, but it didn't seem to work out, said Richard Mahoney, a lifelong Lodi resident who works for Praytel Communications, a Lodi firm that sells pay phones to gas stations and fast-food restaurants. It is also an Internet provider and long-distance phone company.

But the couple have friends who have adopted children and applied to the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency.

In early 2000, the Mahoneys attended an adoption workshop at the Lodi Public Library, which included adults who were adopted as children.

"That really helped a lot in our understanding of it," said Valerie Mahoney, who grew up in Rio Vista.

They had to sign up for a 10-week class to qualify for adoption.

"It's a very strict class," Richard Mahoney said. "If you miss a class, you have to make it up."

If the missed class isn't made up, the person is out of the program, he said.

Instructors put the prospective parents into the child's place, such as being taken out of his home and having his name taken away.

"His mom (in her 20s) couldn't afford to take care of him," Valerie Mahoney said.

"We felt we have a lot to offer a child," Richard Mahoney said. "We have a nice home here. Valerie can stay at home with him."

Although one may not consider 48 an advanced age, many consider it an advanced age to have a baby. Valerie Mahoney doesn't see it that way.

"As an older parent, my life is him," said the new mother, a former nurse at a Lodi doctor's office. "I enjoy it so much more now."

At 48, Valerie Mahoney doesn't have her career and other children competing for her time. She was tired when she came home from work when her adult children were little. It helps that young Davis now sleeps all night.

"I would highly recommend going through the county (to adopt)," said Valerie Mahoney. "They're very thorough. They come into your home four or five times to get to know you personally. I was very impressed with the service they have."

During Adoption Saturday this month, nine children ranging in age from 10 months to 11 years were adopted into seven families during a ceremony held at the San Joaquin County Courthouse in Stockton.

The county's Human Services Agency finalized 143 adoptions during the 2000-01 fiscal year, according to agency spokeswoman Lindy Turner.

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