With no-nonsense haircuts and near-unbreaking stoicism, Pittsburgh police Detective Jack Mook and his two adoptive sons looked like a family long before a judge made it official on Tuesday.
“You’re Mooks!” the detective told Josh, 15, and Jessee, 11, as they celebrated with high-fives outside the courtroom after the brief hearing before Judge Kathleen Mulligan.
“I have been so very impressed with the wonderful job (Mook) has done,” Mulligan said during the proceeding. Applause broke out when she signed the adoption order.
Mook met the boys about six years ago at Steel City Boxing, where he volunteers as a trainer.
In February 2013 , he stepped in as the boys’ foster father upon learning about their troubled home life with birth parents who struggled with drug addiction. Police had arrested the boys’ guardian.
They’ve been together since.
This summer, the boys fished at Pymatuning State Park and ate their way through Geneva on the Lake, Ohio. When Mook asked Jessee the name of the burrito place, Jessee grinned and said, “Effin Burrito.”
“They loved it,” Mook said.
Outside the hearing room, the boys — wearing collared shirts and dress pants — posed for photos with Mook and relatives. They changed into T-shirts and gym shorts as soon as they got to their Brighton Heights home, and they planned a pizza party at the gym that brought the family together.
“It’s real now. It’s forever,” Mook, 45, said. “Even when they leave the house at 18, I’ll still get headaches.”
Mook said the boys’ birth parents will remain part of their lives.
“I’m still ‘Coach,’ ” Mook said. “Their biological dad is still their dad. I want them to be a part of the good things they experience.”
The boys said they wanted Mook to go through with the adoption. They said they feel healthier. Josh is training for a 10-mile run in November, and Mook said he had to cheer Jessee up with ice cream at the end of last school year because the fifth-grader was upset he got a B and C instead of straight As.
“I’m very happy,” Jessee said. “His house is clean, he has great rules, and I know he’s going to make me a better man in life.”