CRESCENT TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A Crescent Township family completed a two-year journey Friday, officially adopting a teenage girl they had been fostering since 2018.

Chris and Heidi Gariti were hoping to officially adopt 15-year-old Maddie in May, but the coronavirus pandemic postponed the final hearing.

They were able to adopt her Friday from the comfort of their living room via a virtual hearing.

“She was worth fighting for and worth waiting it out and going through the whole process with,” said Chris.

The Gariti’s initially never thought about fostering or adopting a child.

They already had three children of their own, Zack (15), Jake (13) and Addy (11), but plans changed in 2018.

“I had never heard God speak so clearly to me in my life than when I knew that she was to be with us,” said Heidi.

Jake and Maddie were originally friends at Moon Area Middle School.

Maddie, who was 13 at the time, was in need of a new home through the foster care system.

“She was already over a lot,” Heidi said. “I was already caring for her in a lot of ways.”

After many long conversations, Chris and Heidi fostered Maddie in April 2018, and she moved into their Crescent Township home.

“I already had such a good relationship with the three of my siblings that, they would just show me this sibling love that I really didn’t understand,” Maddie says of her first days living with the Gariti family.

The family says Friday’s adoption hearing was emotional as they completed the final step surrounded by loved ones.

“I was just so happy and so relieved,” Maddie said.

With court dates and meetings with attorneys now behind them, the Gariti’s are ready to begin their lives as a loving family of six.

“I feel so much better than I did two years ago,” Maddie said. “I feel healthier, and I just feel like I fit in anywhere I go, as long as I’m with the Gariti’s.”

Shelby Cassesse