We made it to the courthouse on time, and luckily didn't run out of gas. Phew! Levi was dressed to impress in an outfit gifted to him by his Grandpa and Grandma S. We waited outside the courtroom, and by the grace of God, every single member of our 17 person adoption party made it to the courthouse on time (huge feat for my family).
There was my mom and step-dad, my dad and step-mom, Herb's mom and step-dad, my sister-in-law and niece, our friends Lynne, Matt, Erin, Ethan, and Adin, and our two social workers.
Once they called us into the courtroom (which really looked the way it does on TV), the judge went over our intentions and the previous parental termination by Levi's birth parents. One weird thing was at the beginning of the hearing, the judge kept referring to Levi by his birth name, which was Jeffrey.
Next, Herb took the stand. He was asked about his age, name, place of work, our anniversary, Levi's birthday, Levi's "Gotcha Day," and his intention to raise Levi as a child that would have been born to us. Herb nailed all the questions! At the end, the judge asked, "If this adoption is decreed, what name would you like to give the child?"
I felt the hot sting of tears. I started thinking about this little baby who wasn't supposed to live, and now here he is 30 years later passing on his namesake to his very own son.
Proudly, Herb replied, "Herbert Levi Suereth V."
Throughout the courtroom there was a stifled chuckle, as I'm sure everyone was thinking, "What a big name for such a small baby."
Next, I was called to the stand. I walked up to the chair, worried the back of my dress may have been tucked into my underwear. (Don't worry, it wasn't.) When they asked me if I promised to tell the truth, I purposefully said, "I do," rather than "Yes."
I didn't get quite the same grilling as Herb. I had to state my name (to which I almost said Michelle DeeAnn Stoltzfus - WHAT?!), age (I stuttered), my occupation (proudly SAHM, plus piano lessons), and if I promised to raise Levi as if he were my biological child. Around this point, my dear sister-in-law Jocelyn caught my attention from the front row of the gallery.
Oh dear, I should not have looked at her. She was starting to do the ugly cry. It resembled this:
I was already on the edge of my emotions, and then I lost it. I knew the next question they asked would be about the name we would like to give the baby, and again, I just thought of how proud my husband and his family must be of this namesake.
With many tears and a huge lump in my through, I eeked out his name, but I won't be surprised if the court records show something kind of unrecognizable mumbling for my kid's new name.
After I gathered myself together and sat back down with our attorney, the judge went over our home study, the adoption process, the fees paid, the openness requested by Levi's birth family, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. Finally, he gave his ruling, and the verdict was...
The judge came over to shake our hands, and then offered to pose with us for some pictures.
Lynne walked around and took some more pictures. Please notice everyone it a little teary!
Then we went for a big group picture. I so treasure each one of these people more than words can say. At our lunch adoption party, we took some time to tell each one what their support has meant to us in the last two years. Of course, more tears again!
We headed over to Isaac's for a delicious lunch after a quick detour to Binn's Park to let the kids play in the fountain.
The only downside of lunch was that I forgot to bring the cake I made for Levi's big day! Oh well, we just enjoyed it when we got home.
From the bottom of my heart, I really really want to thank each one of you who read this blog. I know we have been so covered in prayer and very encouraged by more people than I can count. This is the end of our adoption adventure (at least for now, wink wink), but not the end of this blog. I will keep writing about our journey as (adoptive)parents, but it probably won't be my focus all the time. I hope you'll check back tomorrow to see what's new! I've got some fun stuff up my sleeve.
Love to you all. And thanks be to God.