Adopting ‘Mookie Betts’: Teen adds Sox star’s name
HAMPTON FALLS, N.H. (AP) — Gage Mookie Betts Sennott signed his adoption papers Wednesday, cementing his place in his longtime foster family while taking his favorite baseball player’s name.
The Sennotts have raised Gage, 15, twice as a foster child, first as a baby and then most recently since 2017. Gage, who has a cognitive delay, has seen the court decide where and when he changed homes over the years. His mother, Andrea, said his new name paying homage to the Red Sox right fielder is as much about his fandom as it is taking control.
“His whole life has had social workers involved, lawyers involved, judges involved,” Andrea said. “For once, this is him getting to make his own decision and be in charge of himself.”
The Sennotts celebrated Gage’s adoption Wednesday with a Hummer limousine filled with family, friends and Gage’s teachers that picked him up and brought him to the courthouse in Brentwood. He received gifts, including a batting helmet and baseball bat signed by Betts, as well as the locker tag that hung from Betts’ locker last season and during the World Series. His parents hope he will someday get to meet Betts, the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player.
“He’s a good baseball player, and we play the same position,” Gage said, explaining his love for Betts. Wednesday morning he wore a blazer and dress shirt because he said he wanted to look sharp for his court appearance. But at home that afternoon he was dressed down in his Betts T-shirt and socks sporting the No. 50 Betts wears.
Gage was 11 weeks old when he first came to the Sennott home in 2004. The Sennotts have been licensed foster parents since 1999, inspired by a family Andrea knew growing up that fostered and adopted children. The Sennotts also adopted Gage’s older sister and brother, Katie and Noah.
Gage returned to his birth parents a year later but stayed in close contact with the Sennotts, who developed a relationship with Gage’s mother and agreed to help raise him because of her personal difficulties.
Gage came to the Sennotts every weekend, vacation and holiday. His siblings struggled with sending Gage home, Katie recalling when Gage first went home after his foster care ended. She was riding her scooter down the street, tears streaming down her face.
“He always had a great time with us, and he knew it, too. He liked being with us,” Noah said. “It was kind of emotional to have to bring him back to his mom every weekend.”
In 2017, the courts decided Gage needed to return to foster care and he has been living with the Sennotts since.
Baseball is big in the Sennott house, and Gage fell in love with the Red Sox while growing up watching them. He has played baseball since Little League, and while his mother said he mostly enjoys being part of the team, he has overcome his cognitive delay to get base hits. When he goes to Fenway Park, where his parents have season tickets, he always sits in “6 pavilion, box nine, second row.”
His brother Noah said Gage has been a fan of Betts since he joined the Red Sox. Gage swings the same type of axe-handle bat as Betts.
When it came time to talk about Gage changing his name to Sennott, Gage asked if he could change his middle name as well. Immediately, he said he wanted to take on Mookie Betts as his middle name.
“We thought he was joking at first,” said his mother. His friends also were surprised, Andrea said, and they suggested he go with just Mookie or Betts, or the player’s actual first and middle name, Markus Lynn.
His parents had Gage talk one-on-one with his social worker to make sure Gage was intent on taking the right fielder’s full name, and Gage told her he was serious. They also asked him how he would feel if Betts was traded to a different team.
“He said even if he got traded he’s still a good baseball player and a good person,” Andrea said.
Wednesday, the judge playfully teased Gage about his middle name, saying he was glad he didn’t pick Jackie Bradley Jr. since that would be a bit long. He also joked he might instead write down Betts’ real name on the paperwork Gage was about to sign.
“I knew he was kidding,” Gage said. He also took a picture with the judge, who said he’d never gotten to take a picture with Mookie Betts.
Andrea said she hopes Gage’s story can raise awareness for a growing demand for foster parents in New Hampshire. She said the state’s ongoing opioid crisis has led to more children being put into foster care and that addiction is making it harder to reunite children with their birth families.
“There’s a lot of great kids out there that need help and support,” she said. “Hopefully, there will be more people that... can be willing to foster and adopt if it comes to that.”
Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com