Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Scarlett's Adoption Hearing

Our hearing to finalize Scarlett's adoption was Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the Fourth District Courthouse in Provo.  We were worried about being late and were there 30 minutes early.  We were lucky enough to be before Judge Lynn Davis for this hearing too.  Judge Davis has such a respect for birth parents and adoption and expresses that at the end of the hearings.  We love him and if we adopt for a third time we can only hope we will be able to go before him again for finalization.

Gavin, Scarlett and Daddy waiting patiently

Scarlett and Mommy waiting patiently

Gavin loved running around outside the courtroom
Gathering Gavin after he disappeared around the corner at the end of the hall and tried to enter another courtroom
We went into the courtroom and waiting for Judge Davis to enter. Judge Davis recognized JD and I and of course Scarlett who was sitting on my lap.  We brought the iPad for Gavin to play with so he wouldn't fuss during the hearing and he was on the bench behind us.  Judge Davis remembered Gavin and asked if he was there since he couldn't see him.  We brought him forward and Judge Davis said hello.  I have to say I was really impressed that he remembered Gavin and recognized him as well.  Our kids will not remember that experience but it is one I will not soon forget.

Shirl, Scarlett and Daddy waiting for Judge Davis to enter

Gavin was such a good boy to play quietly with the iPad during court.  It is a special treat when he gets to play with it so he enjoys every second!

The four of us before court started. 
 Our attorney, Shirl LeBaron presented documents to the court and our case worker from LDS Family Services, Hayley took the stand to testify on our behalf.  They inquire about the relationship that we have with Scarlett and if she believes we have bonded with her and the big question does she recommend that the finalization takes place.  She answered yes to all of the questions and stated that it was obvious that we loved Scarlett very much and that her recommendation would be to move forward with the adoption.  Our attorney then has each of us state our full names, address and we answer the same questions obviously that yes we felt like it was in the best interest of Scarlett to proceed with the adoption.  Judge Davis then asked us to state our feeling about this adoption and Scarlett.  I shared the unique experience it was to have Stevie live with us and get to know her on a very personal level because of that and watching her come to the decision to place Scarlett for adoption.  It was painful to watch her go through that process even though it was a very short period of time from when she moved into our home to when she told us she wanted us to adopt Scarlett but watching her agonize over the decision and seeing how difficult it was for her to watch us prepare for her arrival.  There is no doubt that her decision was made out of pure love for Scarlett or she would have decided to parent her.  I am so glad that we have an opportunity in court to express our feelings so it can be recorded. I wish Stevie would have been able to attend the hearing as well but she chose not to come because she didn't feel like she would be able to handle it.  I respect her decision and if I had to make the decision she did I'm sure I would have done the same thing.

There was a little hiccup this time in court and I was really worried it would postpone Scarlett's sealing and blessing that was scheduled for the next day.  In the paperwork that was submitted to the court it read that there WOULD be a paternal search done on the birth father registry in the state of Utah.  It had to have been done and until the paperwork stated that it had been done- which it had prior to placement and again a month after placement- Judge Davis wouldn't sign the final adoption decree.  Our attorney had another appointment he had to get to but called his office to have the amended document resubmitted so Judge Davis could and would sign it.  I think we waited for almost 45 minutes because there was another case right after ours but as soon as it was over we were able to go down to the clerk and get the official signed and stamped decree of adoption.  I knew it would happen but I was still sweating it a little bit during that time. 

After court we went to Stevie's apartment to visit her.  Scarlett fell asleep on the way there so we weren't able to stay very long and we had to get up to Ogden for a surprise party for Uncle Ryan's college graduation.  Scarlett did wake up long enough for Stevie to snuggle her a little bit and for me to get a few pictures, of course. 

Stevie and Scarlett- I wish you could see Stevie's face but this is so typical she is kissing her or nuzzled into Scarlett when she holds her.  I hope they always have that special bond.

Court is over and Scarlett is officially a Nielson.  She really is a dream come true.  Adoption is about love there is no doubt about it.  Our hearts are ALWAYS full of gratitude for our children's birth parents and especially on this day for Stevie.  If she loved Scarlett even just a tiny bit less she wouldn't have been able to place her in our arms and make it possible for us to adopt her.   We love you forever Stevie. Thank you for making our dreams come true!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Scarlett's Adoption (Part 1)- Meeting Stevie

Since our beautiful Scarlett turned five months old yesterday and that means our adoption hearing, finalization and sealing is just over a month away I thought I should share the story of how Scarlett joined our family.

JD and I decided very early that as soon as we would be able to apply to adopt again we would start the process.  We figured there was no way that another adoption would happen as quickly as Gavin's did.  We had to wait until a year after placement of Gavin to start the process again so that meant October. 

We attended the adoption orientation class that LDS Family Services requires the first Friday in October.  We got our first packet of paperwork and had it filled out and turned in within a few days.  Let me just add- that is the easy paperwork- very basic.  We met with our caseworker, Hayley, for our intake interview to make sure we met all requirements and to get the next packet of paperwork from her.  I have to say I was very impressed with our Bishop and the speed that he filled out and returned the recommendation form to the office- that is a requirement with LDS Family Services- to have a bishop's recommendation.  Anyway, we started the second packet, paid the application fee of $1000 and were on our way.  We had our information to start filling out the online portion of our profile and application.  This is the stuff that expectant parents see when they are looking at profiles.  It had been so recent that we were able to cut and paste most of the stuff from Gavin's adoption.  Let me tell you that is a HUGE time saver.  It's stuff like how we met, how we plan to discipline, what are life it like, etc. basically things that don't or didn't change.  The biggest change this time was the training classes that are required were now online.  I have to admit I didn't care for the online classes.  I can see the benefit if a couple had never adopted before but I would have liked different options since this was our second adoption.  The review was good for us but different would have been nice. 

We had also just finished Utah Foster Care training which is 32 hours of class time.   I'm so glad we did that training!  We had started prepping our house for placement from Foster Care before we even started paperwork with LDSFS but decided there was nothing wrong with working with both avenues while we waited for our baby.  We had bunk beds purchased and set up and tried to prepare as much as we knew was necessary while we waited to get the call that they were coming to do a home study.  We decided that we would apply with LDSFS too since we didn't have a strong feeling one way or another where our child would come from. 

Since we were on the FSA board and in charge of sending out emails we got an email from Melinda who was the Children's Services manager for the American Fork LDS Family Services office.  She had just met with an expectant mom that day that needed housing.  This is what the email said...
One of our caseworkers met with an expectant mother today who is in immediate need of a temporary place to live. Our young friend is 33 weeks pregnant and considering an adoption plan. She has very little local family support (most of her family are in Southern Utah), and hardly ANY support for an adoption plan so a sweet family experience may be exactly what she needs. She’s looking for a home that is as near to Orem as possible. She works in Orem and doesn’t want anything to disrupt her employment. She does NOT have a car so she’ll also need help with rides to work as well as to her counseling appointments and group sessions at the agency. She’s hoping for this housing help to be a short-term solution since she has plans to start school at UVU next semester and would prefer to live close to the school.

JD and I talked right after I got the email and decided we would tell Melinda that we had housing available.  We didn't fit all the criteria since we live in American Fork and she was in Orem (actually Provo) but we both felt very strongly that we needed to make it known we would be willing to help.  Since we were in the early stages of filling out our adoption profile information we didn't know if she would consider us for placement but beyond that we just felt like we needed to help.  After several emails back and forth between us and Melinda we set up a time to meet Stevie. 

She came over on a Friday afternoon and met JD, Gavin, Roxy and I.  I showed her around the house and the room we had available in our basement. It felt like a good fit to me but ultimately the decision was up to her. I made sure to tell her that our invitation to move in with us wasn't because we had expectations that she would place her child with us but rather we wanted to be able to help and support her and give her a safe place that she could make a good decision for her and her baby.  JD and I talked after she left and both felt good about offering her a place to live until her baby arrived and for a short time after and let Melinda know.  Stevie had contacted her and felt like this would be a good fit for her too.  She moved in the following Monday. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Some of Our Summer Adventures

We had so much fun playing with our friends this summer.  We spent a lot of time at the splash pad in Highland and the Lindon pool.  We fed the ducks- or went with our friends that fed the ducks.  Gavin is a little fish and loves to be in the water.  I'm so glad because it was a great way to stay cool during this hot, hot summer.  We sure kept busy this summer and hate to see it come to an end but are looking forward to playing in the fall leaves and making snowmen this winter.

These are a few of the people and things that kept us busy this summer...

Visits with our birth family

Celebrate Adoption walk for Birth Mothers day in Spanish Fork

Playing in the swing was one of Gavin's favorite things just so long as he didn't go too high.

Supporting mommy in her calling as the ward women's athletic specialist and hanging out with one of the young women (Brooklyn) from our ward.

We applied for Gavin's social security card...he was such a trooper during the long wait in line.

Showing mommy his sassy pants look- hilarious!

One of our many trips to the splash pad

He loves the water! 

With my friends kids at the Highland splash pad

We decided not to put sand in the sandbox this year since Gavin likes to "taste" everything.  He didn't care one bit he had just as much fun with no sand.

Our friends came over to play

Alpine splash pad

Look at all those cute little friends that we spend the summer with- I hope we will always be friends

Isn't this the cutest picture!!??

BBQ with friends at our house

Trying his first dreamsicle

Trying on hats and other shopping adventures with mommy

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

American Fork Steel Days parade

We had so much fun last Saturday at the American Fork Steel Days parade.  We helped build a balloon arch and decorate the float for the American Fork Families Supporting Adoption chapter and walked in the parade and handed out otter pops.    Our float won the Blue Ribbon Award for Theme and Message- how cool is that??!!  Adoption really does rock!

We met a couple of other families that came to walk in the parade that we hadn't met before and they were so much fun.  The Hartman's dressed up in true rock style and they danced all the way down the parade route.


Here are a few pictures from our day at the parade...

Our family
It was so HOT the day of the parade we took some time to enjoy the shade before the parade started.

These kids had such a good time rocking out on the float!

The set up and parade was right in the middle of nap time for Gavin.  He was such a trooper!

Finished float

Handsome boys and their rock style mohawks!

Gavin rocking it out on the parade route!

After finishing the balloon arch we took a break for a picture.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Days Rodeo

JD and I have enjoyed the Strawberry Days rodeo in Pleasant Grove every year since we have been married.  We were so excited to take Gavin to his first rodeo this year.  Strawberry Days rodeo has a special place in our family too because we met Karlee and Devrey for the first time for dinner the night we went last year.  Oh boy how things can change in a year!!  It is definitely a family tradition to go each year.
Cute little cowboy.  Thanks Uncle Jared and Aunt Klar for the cute cowboy gear!

Gavin was dressed in his cowboy gear that Uncle Jared and Aunt Klar gave him at his baby shower.  I had been dying to get him in the outfit since she opened it at the shower and it was a perfect night and a perfect fit!   Gavin loved the rodeo and kept his eyes stuck on the arena all night.  He did get scared when the clown made some big noises during his show in the middle of the rodeo but otherwise did great!

Gavin and daddy- Gavin was watching the horses in the arena

Mommy and Gavin waiting for the rodeo to start

A bunch of little kids were facinated by this pick up man at the rodeo.  We were so impressed that he came over and talked to the kids when he wasn't needed for the rodeo.

You can't go to the Strawberry Days rodeo and not have strawberries and cream.  Gavin loved it! 

Happy boy at the rodeo

It got a little chilly at the end of the night so we snuggled up under our John Deere blanket.  Gavin really enjoyed the rodeo and we can't wait until next year!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Celebrate Adoption tees

I never knew when JD and I got married that adoption would be a part of our lives.  I always imagined I would get pregnant, have morning sickness and we would build our family in the "traditional" way.  Boy oh boy was I wrong!  We are so grateful for adoption and how it has changed our lives and perspective of what a family is.  I was never opposed to adoption in a general sense I always thought it was a good thing but I never knew it would come so close to home...our home!

We celebrate adoption everyday in our house and are so grateful that we were selected by Gavin's birth parents to be his parents.  We tell Gavin his story everyday and we have pictures of his birth family not only in his room but on our family picture wall.  They are after all forever connected to us because of adoption.

JD and I volunteered to be part of the American Fork Families Supporting Adoption board just after Gavin's placement.  We wanted to give back to others because we have been so blessed.  This weekend all of the Utah County chapters of Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) is hosting a Celebrate Adoption Walk.  We are so excited to participate this year.  We planned to go last year and some unexpected things cam up and we weren't able to attend.  We are so excited that Tiff, Ryan and their boys will be there with us along with Gavin's birth parents and Karlee's daughter.  What a better group to celebrate our adoption!!  We decided to make shirts to wear for the adoption walk this weekend and I think they turned out great!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fun Day with our Birth Parents

We invited Karlee & Devrey over for a BBQ yesterday.  We hadn't seen them in several months so it was definitely time to get together.  G was of course showered with hugs and kisses.  Here are a few pictures from last night.

J.D. was trying to make Gavin giggle since he had been so quiet all night.  He has the magic touch because he did finally giggle for us.

Saying Good night.  Gavin got to have a tubby while Karlee and Devrey were here.  It wasn't planned by definitely necessary after graham crackers and a MESSY diaper. 

J.D and I are on the Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) board for American Fork and now part of United for Adoption (UFA) board.  Next Saturday, May 11 is Birth Mother's Day and the Utah County FSA hosts a Celebrate Adoption Walk each year.  We are so glad that Kand D (hopefully depending on his work schedule) will be there with us as we celebrate adoption! 

We are having shirts printed for all of us and our parents and my sister and her family that will be with us at the walk.  I can't wait to see how they turn out!!  I will definitely post pictures when we get them done and from the walk on Saturday.