Judges Corner

Judge Dawn Veronica Denaro’s Inspiring Dedication to Miami-Dade County’s Children and Her Love for Her Adopted Children

By Lucy Pinero. Esq – adoptive parent/child advocate  Lucy@pinerolawpa.com

Who is Judge Dawn Veronica Denaro?

Judge Dawn Veronica Denaro grew up with her parents and her brother in Miami-Dade County. She attended Palmetto Senior High School, graduated in 1984, and went on to graduate from Tulane University in 1988 with honors.  In 1992, she fulfilled her dream of becoming an attorney when she graduated from law school in Michigan. Then returned home to Miami-Dade County to begin her professional life.

During the course of over 18 years, she was an assistant state attorney with the Miami-Dade Attorney’s Office specializing in homicide, juvenile and domestic crimes. From 2004 thru 2011, Judge Denaro was regularly featured as one of our top government attorneys in South Florida’s Legal Guide.

In May 2011, Judge Denaro was appointed to the County Court Bench, and in 2018, elevated to the Circuit Court. At present, she is a tenacious child advocate assigned to the Unified Family Court located at the Children’s Courthouse.

Interviewing Judge Denaro was an unexpected delight. Her passion and commitment to adoption and children was enlightening.  I posed a series of questions to the Judge during my interview and wish to share some of the most meaningful highlights.

What does National Adoption Day mean to you?

It’s a beautiful celebratory day for children who have suffered so much and who have finally found their forever family. Dreams have become a reality for these children. My advice to those who want to adopt is to follow your dreams and become an adoptive parent.  There are so many children who are in need of a loving family. You might suffer some heartache in the process, but the adoption experience is clearly worth it. “I would not have done anything differently during my life” is the judge’s beliefs.

Is anyone in your family adopted?

Yes, my sister and my husband, Gary, are adopted. I find nothing unusual about the concept of adoption. It’s all about loving and caring for children in need.

How many children have you and husband adopted?

Both of my daughter ages 18 and 10 are adopted and my son was born by surrogate.

Tell me about your first adoption experience.

I was 36 years old, single, and childless; I wanted more than anything to be a mother. So, I first adopted, as a single parent, a baby girl from Russia.

What was your experience with adopting from Russia?

They provided me with a tiny “referral” picture of Emma, my daughter to be. She was 2 months old when I started the long adoption process.  It was a difficult time, filled with anxiety.  Then Russia implemented a lengthy adoption moratorium that included approximately 60,000 children; Emma was one of those children.

When I finally got the call from my attorney months later, I travelled halfway across the world with my mother to meet this little girl that I had dreamed about for so long. I then had to leave her behind and wait for a call from the authorities in Russia to return for the court proceeding.  Two weeks later, my mother and I made the 24-hour journey to begin a three-week process in Russia to perfect the adoption.  Years later, I reunited with my high school boyfriend Gary, the love of my life and we were married. He subsequently adopted Emma who is a blessing in our lives. Today, Emma is a college student and a skilled artist. She is also very much the entrepreneur, who sells her artwork through her website.  Following in her mother’s footsteps, Emma also gives back to needy children.  I am very proud of my daughter and her accomplishments.

Did you adopt another child?

Gary and I later became foster parents through the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and adopted Taylor when she was 3 years old. I had a good experience with DCF throughout the adoption process.  However, the experience was nonetheless stressful and produced much anxiety each time we had to appear in court. We really did not know what would happen down the road. There were many delays, but it all worked out in the end.  I was blessed to have a great Judge, case workers and  Guardian ad Litem assigned to her case.

I keep in touch with her wonderful foster mother who cared for her for three years. It’s important for Taylor to know that she is very much loved by her previous foster parent, who played a very important role in her young life.

Today Taylor is 10 years old. She plays Volleyball, is very artistic and practices Karate. Taylor is such a special child who is kind and loving.

Did you and Gary adopt a third time?

Gary and I chose to have our third child through the surrogacy process. One day, a close friend of mine was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show where Oprah was discussing the surrogate process overseas.  After three years, nine surrogates and three egg donors, we finally got the amazing news that our surrogate was pregnant.  My husband travelled across the globe to bring home our son, Edward.

Edward is a second grader who loves school, the outdoors, baseball, karate and soccer.  He is such a delight in every way.

Judge Denaro’s Message to the Families Adopting on National Adoption Day:

 Congratulations! You are about to embark on the most meaningful journey of your life.

Spotlight to a Child Advocate Champion:

This year, as we prepare to celebrate National Adoption Day on November 19, 2022, we celebrate child advocates, such as Judge Dawn Veronica Denaro, for her enthusiastic and unwavering commitment to the adoption process and for her tenacious labor for the children in Miami-Dade County.

The Interview:

If there was ever a human being better suited to provide guidance to the many adopted parents and children in this community I, can’t find one, better suited than Judge Denaro.