March 31, 2013 - Miranda Hope was born
September 13, 2013 - Termination Hearing was held to terminate the rights of the birth parents
December 18, 2013 - Finalization Hearing. Miranda Hope was officially and legally declared "ours"
Gotcha Day was this past Wednesday and it was nothing short of spectacular.
Judge: "Do you understand that if the court approves this adoption, you will legally assume all of the rights, duties and responsibilities of a natural parent of the child? Do you understand that if this decree is granted, this child be the same as a natural child to you? Do you understand that you will have all of the duties toward this child to educate, support and to supply moral guidance and upbringing? Do you understand you have a duty of love and affection to this child?"
YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With those nearest to us in the court room seats, Miranda and I took the witness stand first. I placed my hand on the bible and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My tears could not be stopped as my heart was so full and I was so happy. The judge asked me to introduce all the people we had with us and I proudly showed off our family. I gladly answered the questions that the judge posed and our attorney chimed in as needed. Then we switched and Gary took the stand. He was so proud to be there, holding our daughter. It made me weep some more.
It was about a 10 minute hearing. It was surreal. It was amazing. We walked into the courthouse with Baby Girl B (her legal name this whole time) and walked out with Miranda Hope Koellhoffer. Yesterday we received an official certificate of adoption. She is ours. We are hers. Life is good.
We came back to the house and hosted a small lunch for those who were able to celebrate with us. Very hard on a weekday and a week before Christmas. But many people were able to attend and share our joy. I will never forget a moment of that day.
On the witness stand, holding Miranda on my lap, I felt a little tingle. It was Allie. I am sure of it. She was there. She was watching. She was protecting her little sister.
And so, now we are just a regular old family. No more legal bills, no more social worker visits...just a normal family. Well, our version of normal, anyway!
A special thanks to everyone that made "Gotcha Day" so special. Phyllis, Rita & Mike, Gary & Brenda, Paul, Caraline, Sean, Ryan & Maddy, Dan, Lauren, Ella & Summer, Jeff & Neda, Amy, Tina, Estelle, Kara, Jon, Jackson & Joss, Mel, Pearl & Leslie, Cheryl, and Ashley. And for all the texts and emails and well wishes...not to mention the 135 or so Facebook likes...thank you. Thank you all.
|Daddy's side of the family|
|Mommy's side of the family|
|With "Aunt" Amy|
|Judge Ott and Us|
|The Koellhoffer Family|
|Our daughter, Miranda Hope|