BLACKSTONE, Mass. (AP) - Jean Lubinsky never knew her biological father, but Bob Dube married her mom and became her dad when she was 5 years old.
He used to walk her to elementary school. They went fishing together. When she was a teenager, he taught her how to drive.
Even after Dube and Lubinsky’s mother divorced, the two of them remained close.
He was there when she got married. She told him she was pregnant on one of their fishing trips. He was there for the birth of her first child.
Decades later, when Lubinsky learned about adult adoption, she was surprised how much this idea meant to her. She asked Dube what he thought. He started calling lawyers the next day.
“A lot of people would say why bother or what’s the point, but he’s the only father figure I’ve ever known,” Lubinsky says. “This is a validation to the world that he’s my father, not just the father in my heart. Put that seal on it, damn it - he’s my father.”
Lubinsky, 45, still lives in Blackstone, where her husband has his own machine shop. Dube, 67, remarried and retired to Bradenton, Florida, four years ago.
When they arranged her adoption through A Bond of Love, a Sarasota, Florida, agency, they were offered court dates of Dec. 17 or Jan. 15.
“We both said it’d be great if it was in December,” Lubinsky says. “What a Christmas present.”
For the last 27 years, A Bond of Love has thrown a Christmas party in Sarasota for its adoptive parents and their children.
In Bradenton, Bob Dube tells the jump rope story. On the phone from Blackstone, Lubinsky tells the jump rope story.
It goes like this.
When Dube and her mom went on their first date, in 1977, Jean went to a babysitter’s house. On their way home from the date, they picked her up in his car. When Jean got out of the car, she noticed that she had left her jump rope in the back seat.
“I knew I should take it with me,” she says. “If I didn’t, I might not see it again. But I quickly made the decision to leave it on the seat. I was hoping he’d bring it back to me.”
He did bring back her jump rope. He wound up marrying her mom. He became her dad.
Lubinsky remembers looking for a new apartment just before Christmas in 1978. Dube remembers that, too.
“We got a tree and set up the decorations before we even moved in our stuff,” he says. “This was two weeks before Christmas.”
For more than 30 years, Dube worked in maintenance at a hospital in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. To make extra money, he would clean doctor’s offices in the evening.
When Jean got older, she would work part-time, too. If they finished cleaning early, they would go fishing in a reservoir next to the office park.
“We did a lot of things together,” Dube says. “I taught her to drive on my pickup truck.”
Dube and his wife, Diane, live in Golf Lakes Estates, an upscale mobile home park in Bradenton.
She plays cards. He plays pickle ball.
On their living room wall, Diane has photos of her children and grandchildren. Dube has a wedding photo of his stepdaughter.
He says he never liked the word “stepfather,” much less ex-stepfather, after he and her mom got divorced.
“Legally,” he says, “I found out she wasn’t even my stepdaughter anymore.”
More than 20 years later, when she asked him about adoption, Dube liked the idea, too.
Finally, on Dec. 17, Lubinsky made a conference call to the Manatee County Courthouse, where Dube stood before a judge. A notary swore everyone in. Papers were signed, and that was that.
Five days later, Dube and his wife flew to Massachusetts to spend the Christmas holidays with Lubinsky and her husband, Kevin.
“This is the first time we stay with them,” Dube said before the trip. “We’ll be even closer.”
For Lubinsky, the adoption process has been one emotional moment after another. Months ago, when she gave her mother the news, she wasn’t sure what to expect
“When I told her, she burst into tears,” Lubinsky says. “She said, ‘I’m so happy for you guys.’ “
She thinks the first time she ever read about adult adoption was in a newspaper article. She hopes her story might inspire others who want to recognize their adoptive parents.
“It’s never too late,” Lubinsky says. “I might be 45, and he might be in his late 60s, but it turns out that it doesn’t matter. That’s pretty cool to find out.”
Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com
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