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Adoption Day

At the King County Courthouse most of the product is heartbreak. People come there to be convicted and sentenced and to sue and be sued. Even the winners leave having paid a great cost for the chance of justice. Plaintiffs, defendants, jurors, and witnesses queue up at the screening tables all wishing they were somewhere else. Lawyers carrying thick file folders wear their officious faces and speak with contrived authority. Courthouse workers greet each other and speak of weekends and food oblivious to the pain around them.

The idea of making new families is completely out of character there. The tiny courtroom sits on the third floor with a view of Third Avenue and the Pioneer Square area. A glass wall separates it from a waiting area where happy, nervous people and fidgety babies and children laugh and chat. One at a time the families file into the courtroom while the people in the waiting room watch through the glass hoping to learn something of what would happen to them. A chalkboard next to the window helps distract the kids as they wait for their case to be called.

Robbie and Meranda’s prospective mom and dad had lost out on adopting another child before and they were pretty nervous that this adoption might not go through. Every phone call and voice mail message threatened disaster and sadness, but all the news was good and 9:00 a.m. finally rolled around.. A couple of aunts were there (when we describe relatives, we always use their relationship with the children) along with the family minister. With me and the social worker we are quite a crowd. Meranda wore a nice maroon velvet jumper and Robbie’s necktie might have looked better with another shirt, but he was more than presentable.

Then our case is called we file into the courtroom where a white haired judge greets everyone. One aunt lines up behind the judge to catch a video of the proceedings.The lawyer hired by the parents announces his business and the judge asks for everyone to introduce themselves, even us spectators. I rise and state, “I am the children’s CASA. I have been with them five-and-a-half years.” The judge also asks the kids if they are good with being adopted and they both nod. He even asks them their new name which they manage to recite.

After pronouncing the children adopted, the judge invites the parties around to his side of the bench where everyone poses for snapshots. Within a total of about seven minutes the process is done and we relinquish the court to a couple carrying an infant and more happy relatives.

The new mom fights back tears as do I. I have represented these kids since Meranda was an infant and so neglected she could not hold up her head. They experienced three other prospective sets of parents until Tom and Janet were able to come through and the best home for them. Amazingly enough the kids do not exhibit any special needs and have every prospect for a normal happy life ahead of them.

My job being done, I gave Meranda and her mom hugs and went about my day.

I have one other case that has lasted nearly as long as Robbie and Meranda’s, but that one is steering towards a return home, another happy ending.

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