Adopted boy finds 'forever family'

Local family celebrates finalization of adoption Monday
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Matthew Flanagan officially has his “forever family.” On Monday afternoon, surrounded by dozens of friends and loved ones snapping photos and wiping away tears, Placer County Judge John Ross finalized Matthew’s adoption by Pat and Susan Flanagan. The Auburn couple has been caring for Matthew, now 8, since August 2007. “Wow, what a crowd,” Ross said as everyone from Matthew’s principal and teachers at Ophir School to Susan’s mother and brother filed into Department 1 of the Placer County Historic Courthouse. Pat Flanagan and his wife have been foster parents for more than three years, working with Placer Kids, a partnership between Sierra Adoption Services and Placer County, in the hopes of adopting. Flanagan has three children from a previous relationship, and the couple, married 14 years, has one son together, 9-year-old Michael. “We both have hearts for children, and Susan wants to fill the house,” he said. Zuzana Loviskova, adoption worker for Placer Kids, expressed joy over Monday’s finalization. “With this family, really, he was born to them again today,” she said. “He was meant to be part of their family.” Loviskova said the Flanagans have been great foster parents. “Seriously, I want to clone them,” she said. “They’ve never said ‘no.’ They’ve always been there for the department and first and foremost, for the children.” Flanagan said he and his wife have hoped all along to find another child to welcome into the family. “It has been our goal,” he said. “We get sidetracked along the way, but that’s OK. The timing has been right for Matthew. From when he came to us, we didn’t know where it was going, but the attachment grew. As time went on, it didn’t look very promising, but we just kept hoping.” Flanagan said it was beginning to look like Matthew’s case might be transferred out of Placer County, and the Flanagans were prepared to fight. “One day, at a court appearance, out of the blue, his father came and relinquished custody,” Flanagan said of Matthew’s biological father. Susan Flanagan said being foster parents has never been about what she and her husband want, but about providing a loving environment for any child who lives with them. That said, she’s overjoyed to have made a permanent connection with Matthew. “It has made our family complete,” she said. “He’s been a dream of ours. We just didn’t know who it was going to be … He’s allowed us into his heart, he’s accepted us as much as we’ve accepted him.” The finality of Matthew’s pending adoption hit Flanagan a few days ago in the form of a realization that she’ll be able to experience all her son’s milestones. “He was walking out to the car and I thought, gosh, he’s getting so tall, and I realized, I’m going to know. I’m not going to wonder,” she said. Flanagan said Matthew has been counting down to the big day. Matthew said Monday was “exciting.” “I get to be adopted,” he said. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at