June 15, 2012 — May 10, 2004.
That was the blessed day a couple from Kentucky would stand hopefully in a courthouse in Seattle, Washington, while a Family Court judge legally proclaimed that their nine-year dream of parenthood finally had been realized.
A half-dozen other anxious couples, prospective grandparents and assorted relatives-to-be had gathered in the same courtroom to witness final adoption orders.
The children to be adopted ranged from pre-teens to a special 19-month-old toddler whom we hoped would become our fourth grandchild. The judge’s welcoming remarks included his first order of the day in which he instructed everyone present to be joyous because Mondays were “happiness days” in his courtroom.
This day would see no families ripped apart through contentious divorces or bitter child custody battles or accusations of physical or emotional abuse of the innocent.
The judge said it was the best day of the week for him because it made the other pain-filled days in Family Court a bit more tolerable.
“This is a special day when everyone leaves here as a member of a happy family,” the judge said proudly.
He also reminded each couple that he had the privilege of having his photograph taken with each new family and that he liked to hold the little ones.
I remember thinking at the time that his comments were hokey but probably good for votes at election time. I soon realized, however, that they came straight from his heart.
A state social worker reported that our daughter and her husband had been approved in all respects to be adoptive parents.
The judge asked them if they were ready to be kind, loving parents for the rest of their lives. They said “yes” or something that sounded like it through their tears of joy.
The judge then issued the final decree and invited the new family, including grandparents, to join him on the bench. I couldn’t wait to get up there as a proud, new papaw.
As the photos finished, the judge asked if he could have one with just him and our brand new granddaughter for his scrapbook.
Later, he told me that he collected those photos because he was just as proud as a doctor who delivered babies.
“Happy Adoption Day” is how our daughter and her family describe May 10.
They say each year the joy of being parents makes it harder to recall the heartaches of those years before.
And the rest of us feel blessed each day that they went west to complete their family.