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Mariners mascot attends National Adoption Day

Mariners mascot attends National Adoption Day

Mariners mascot attends National Adoption Day
SEATTLE -- Dan Wilson knows a thing or two about adopted children, baseball and, yes, the Mariner Moose. So it's not surprising that the former Mariners catcher was the one responsible for the presence of the furry mascot in the court room of King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum last Friday on National Adoption Day.

As the Thanksgiving season plays out, family is one of the first things to be grateful for, and that is certainly the case for 16 children and their parents whose adoptions were finalized in Lum's annual proceeding.

For the 10th straight year, the Mariners Moose took part in the celebration, bringing his fuzzy brand of joy to a day that Wilson first took part in back in 2001. Also in attendance on Friday were Wilson and former Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer.

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Wilson and his wife, Anne, have adopted two of their own four children. At the request of an attorney who helped with their adoptions, Wilson attended the first National Adoption Day ceremony at the King County Courthouse during his playing days.

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The next year, he brought along a friend, the furry fellow with the big antlers.

"The Mariners and Moose have been a tremendous partner for National Adoption Day for these last 10 years," said Judge Lum. "Dan was part of the original celebration, and he kind of mentioned to us, 'Would you like for us to bring the Moose? The kids would love it.'

"We've all had a lot of fun with it. We put him in a judge's robe a couple times and characterized him as our wayward colleague. We even gave him a gavel once, but that was kind of a dangerous thing so we took it away from him," Lum said with a laugh. "He has such a great connection with family and kids and, really, people of all ages. It's a delight for us to have him ... whoever he may be."

Make no mistake, however. The judge is the one doing the talking during the adoption process, even if the Moose often turns into the life of the ensuing party.

"He is kind of the strong, silent type," Lum said.

As usual, the Moose was unavailable for comment on his role in the adoption ceremony. But Wilson knows well the power of the antlers, having seen children flock to the mascot at countless charity and social events.

"He just brings a lot of fun and laughter and joy, and that's what that day is about," said Wilson, who has attended several more of the NAD events over the years. "For whatever reason, kids love the Moose. He's always creating some ruckus and mayhem and getting kids involved. It's always great to see him bringing a smile to kids' faces."

There are plenty of smiles on all faces during the National Adoption Day ceremony. For Lum, it's an event close to his own heart, as he himself was adopted as a child and still considers the day that his adoption was finalized as his second birthday.

For the parents involved, it's the finalization of a process that officially adds a new member to their families. And for the kids, well, it's cookies and balloons and, yes, hugs and pictures with the Moose on a day of swirling emotions.

The children already know of their fate and often are already living with the foster parents or families who adopt them, but National Adoption Day -- a nationwide event that played out in 16 county courthouses in Washington last week -- makes an event out of the final step of that journey.

Penny Grant of Puyallup, Wash., took part in Friday's ceremony in Seattle. She and her husband, Julius, are now the proud parents of five adopted children, with 5-year-old Arraya the newest addition.

"It's absolutely a big deal," said Grant, who had finalized two of the families' previous adoptions at the NAD event as well. "It makes them feel special and unique. There are a lot of older foster children who are not always seeing positive things, and it makes it a great experience. I don't even know if I can put it in the right words, but it's a very special thing."

As president of the South Hill Little League organization, Grant appreciates baseball and the Moose as well. In that way, she has much in common with Wilson. And both know that it's the welfare of the kids that ranks first on their priority list.

"It's great to have a day to bring awareness to the fact that there are lots of kids who need adoption," said Wilson. "For us, it's been nothing but amazing. And to have a day for adopted kids and parents to be acknowledged, that really is a neat thing."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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