|Sarah, Dad, me, Ry, Noah, Sally, and Ashley|
Our case worker helped us with all of the paperwork before Noah's birth and then did all of our supervisory visits after his birth. She was awesome! People always ask me if I felt like I had to have the apartment spotless before she came over, or if I felt like I couldn't be truly open and honest with her if Noah was having a bad day or week--not at all! She is a mom too, and she knows what it's like to have a newborn. She was a huge support to me throughout the entire process. Here she is, snuggling with Noah at the courthouse:
Our lawyer is an awesome man too. He and his wife adopted their first son through our agency about 25 years ago, so now he does the legal work for the agency's adoptive families for free. Isn't that amazing? He says adoption has been such a huge blessing in his life that he wants to make it more affordable for young couples like us. So cool.
|He is a giant.|
Then we went to our courtroom and waited outside while the lawyer went in and got everything ready with the judge. At this point, I got a little nervous--I'm not sure why--maybe because it all felt so official. Here we are, waiting for our hearing to start:
When we entered the courtroom, Ryan and I sat at the table in front of the judge, and our friends and family sat in the observers' seats behind us. I got to hold little Noah. He was so calm and angelic, which made everything even more special.
We all rose for the judge as he entered, and we took the oath (felt like a movie). After our lawyer presented our Petition for Adoption to the judge, he asked us a few questions. He asked Ryan why we were the best parents for Noah, and he asked me how Noah had improved our lives. I don't think either of us was prepared to answer such big questions. I mean, "how has Noah improved our lives"?? Are there even words? I stumbled through a very cliche answer about how much we love him and how he's taught us about love and how he's "our angel" (yes, I really said that--cornball!!). I felt kind of silly and quite inadequate trying to answer such an important question in just a few sentences.
But the judge seemed to like what we had to say because he approved our petition and banged his gavel (did he really bang it? I can't remember, but I hope he did), and we had ourselves a son--officially and lawfully.
Here we are with the judge. He had awesome hair. Ryan said it was "straight from Britain." And he gave Noah the little teddy bear. Cutest!
As we walked back to our family, everyone surrounded Noah and gooed at him and talked to him and congratulated him, and I realized that all of these people will be there to support him every step of the way for the rest of his life, just as they've been there to support us. Amazing.
Outside the courthouse, we got some pictures. He's a Nielson! And the cutest one yet, if you ask me (yes, he's usurped Ryan's title)!
No, just balancing on Bapa's hand.
This was cause for a celebration, so we all went out to the Original Pancake House for brunch. Yum!
After brunch, back at home, Ryan took a little video of Noah demonstrating his new rolling skills. I think Ryan's commentary is really funny, especially at the end ("and rubbing my hand in it...and rolling on top of it" hahaha):
Later that day, the guests started arriving for the rest of the weekend's festivities. Noah was settling down for a late afternoon nap when there was a knock at the apartment door. Knowing who it would be, I picked Noah up from his crib and held him front and center while I opened the door to quite a crowd: Katie, Drew, and their families. Noah greeted them with a huge, open-mouthed grin. It was perfect.
|Noah and his birth parents.|
Love these three.
|Noah and his birth grandmas. |
Love them too! They are awesome.
It was so wonderful to have Noah's birth parents and their families in town for his temple sealing and blessing in church. Many of my friends who are unfamiliar with open adoption were very surprised to hear that Katie and Drew and their families were coming. "Won't that be really hard for them?" they asked. I didn't know what it would be like for them--but I knew that they were excited to see Noah and be part of his celebration. I have since asked them what they were feeling throughout the weekend, and I will share some of their thoughts in an upcoming blog post. I am excited to share a bit of the "birth family" perspective. We've all developed such a close relationship over the past year, centered around one perfect little boy.
Noah played with everyone for a while, but then he'd had it (he'd missed a nap, after all), so everyone left, and Noah went to bed early. While he was sleeping, all of Ryan's family and my little sister arrived--yes, Ryan's parents, all four of his siblings, their three spouses, and my little sister (whose husband had just deployed to Afghanistan that day) came from out of town for the weekend. It was so humbling to have everyone put aside their busy lives and spend the time and the money to come celebrate our little Noah. I know how very lucky Ryan and I are to have the families that we do. We are so blessed.
We hung out at the apartment that evening and ate delicious Indian food (prepared by Sally and Ashley) and laughed, talked, and played games.
|Sal, hard at work as usual!|
It was a great day from start to finish! I was already exhausted but knew this was just the beginning of the fun because the next day, we were taking Noah to the temple! (More on that in the next post...now can you see why it's taken me almost a month to write about this huge weekend??)