What Happens On Adoption Day

Everyone gets so excited when we tell them that tomorrow is J.J.’s adoption day. (!!!!!) Yet I wonder how many of them know the details of what will happen on this day.

I have attended many adoption days. One was for Edgar, our oldest son. The others were for children I worked with as a social worker whose families invited me to attend their special day in court; the sweetness and specialness of these invitations were especially meaningful to me.

The funniest part of an adoption day is the juxtaposition of the solemnity of the courtroom, the judge, and the decrees with the joy and festivity of the children and families who are celebrating. I have never seen a judge on adoption day who was not ear to ear with glee. I rarely would describe judges on other days that I was in court as even slightly gleeful; gleeful doesn’t really match with the other reasons you might be presiding in court. One day, a judge (who was wearing a rainbow bow tie for the occasion) explained to me that the judges will fight to be able to preside over adoption day; they get almost as much joy from the hearing as the families do.

Here’s what I’m expecting to happen tomorrow, based on the adoption days I’ve witnessed:

All the families – could be 3 families, could be 10, in my experience – will arrive in the courtroom for their 9 a.m. hearing. This includes the adoptive parents, the adoptive child, and any extended family or friends that have been invited. The courtroom is usually full of chatter and excitement.

When 9 a.m. arrives, the first family is called back to the judge’s chambers. On Edgar’s adoption day, the first family was us – which was inconvenient, because Nana, Aunt Kristen, Uncle Brian, and Cousin B.J. were in the process of abandoning the line for the elevator and sprinting up the stairs of the courthouse to Courtroom A right as our family was called. As a result, those family members have been told that the hearing starts at 8:40 a.m. for Jonas’s adoption day hearing tomorrow. Please don’t tell them that the hearing is actually at 9.

When the family goes back to the judge’s chambers, the judge will excitedly chit chat with the adoptive parents and smile or talk with the adoptive child. Then the judge will do some formal talking – about the adoption packet, the paperwork that’s been filed – and then she’ll read the adoption decree and sign it. If the parents are sentimental, they’ll cry – and if they’re sleep=deprived because their seven-month-old is not sleeping through the night, then they’ll probably cry a lot. (Not talking about me and Tamara, of course. We won’t be gushing crybabies  at all.)

On Edgar’s adoption day, the judge had a box full of beanie babies and said that Edgar could have one to take with him as an adoption day gift.  Our nephew B.J. was with us; he was 8 years old at the time, and he conscientiously took on the task of selecting a beanie baby. He asked if he could take out every single beanie baby, lay them side by side, so he could pick the best one. My brother vetoed that plan, knowing there were at least four families waiting for their special moment in the judge’s chambers, and B.J. quickly chose a tiny green teddy bear with a shamrock on his heart named Erin.

The judge held Edgar on her lap as she read the decree, and then she took a picture with Tamara, me, and our extended family, holding a serious-faced Edgar the whole time. Then we went all together (just our family, not the judge) to eat pancakes at the Towson Diner, which is a tradition Tamara and I have maintained every year on Edgar’s adoption day.

Maybe Baby J.J.’s adoption day story will be different. Maybe it’ll be exactly the same.


green wooden board with heart hole
Photo by Pixabay on


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