I was nervous. A little over a year ago, I had sat in this very room, waiting to see the judge and knowing that our file was incomplete. I remember the agony of waiting more than a year to complete an adoption that would eventually fail. Yes, I was nervous.
I leaned over to our case worker and asked, “Is all our paperwork here? Really?” Her answer helped me relax. “Yes, it is all here. The judge will declare you as Hanissa’s parents.” Easy to say, but would it really happen?
We shared a court date with another couple from our agency. They knew their file was incomplete. I had no words for them. I knew our last adoption had been unusual, but I worried for them and for us.
They judge called both families into a private room. She began asking questions.
“Do you have other children at home? Do they know about the adoption? How do they feel about it? Do you know any Ethiopian children who have been adopted? Have you met your child? Do you want to adopt this child? Have you learned anything about Ethiopian culture? Will you teach your child about their birth country?”
The judge turned to us. “You understand, once I rule the child as yours, that ruling is final? It is irrevocable. You cannot return this child or reverse this decision. Are you willing to accept this?”
She paused long enough to make sure we understood, then said the greatest words she could ever speak to us. “All the paperwork for Hanissa is in order. She is now legally your daughter according to the laws of Ethiopia.”
I wanted to scream, shout, jump up and kiss the judge. I was so happy to hear those words.
Back at the orphanage, the nannies and older kids all gathered around to discover the outcome of our court appearance. Everyone went wild with celebration when they found out we passed. One precious teenage girl jumped up and down and gave me hugs and kisses. The nannies all gave me the traditional Ethiopian affection, a kiss on each cheek plus one more.
My heart was very full when I went to bed that night.
Here we are at court.
BTW – the family that was in court with us were approved the next week. We are so happy for the Coyle family!