Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Official! (again)

Yesterday Eli, Brad, and I appeared before a judge in Arapahoe County, Colorado to validate Eli's Ethiopian adoption.  The Colorado validation also served to change Eli's name officially from Lingo Bradley to Elijah Lingo.

We talked a little bit with Eli before the hearing about where we were going and why, but when we arrived at the courthouse Eli immediately went into stress mode.  He became silent and tense, and I wasn't sure if he was on the verge of tears or an angry outburst.  I tried reassuring him but was shoved away.

We were called into the courtroom right on time, perhaps even a few minutes early.  Brad and I sat at the designated table, but Eli refused to sit.  He instead stood behind Brad's chair, peeking at the Judge from around the side. 

The Judge quickly ran through the jurisdictional and other questions, validated Eli's adoption, and signed the decree.  He apologized for proceeding so rapidly, but said he was due in another courtroom for a hearing on the Aurora theater shooting.

After signing the decree, the Judge came out from behind the bench and shook our hands.  He held his hand out for Eli, and Eli very tentatively shook it while diverting his eyes.  The Judge complimented Eli on his cowboy boots, and told him that he has some cowboy boots too.  I was touched that even though the Judge had such a weighty hearing to take up elsewhere, he still took the time to try and soothe the frightened boy before him.

We decided to skip the traditional courtroom photo, although I'm sure the Judge would've obliged.  Eli was so stressed that all I could think about was getting him out of there.  So we thanked everyone and said our good-byes.

As soon as we walked out the front doors of the courthouse, Eli's anxiety lifted.  I showed him his validation decree, and explained to him that the Judge just declared us a family forever in America.

He wanted to carry his "very important paper" from the Judge, and he proudly told us he was being careful not to let it blow away in the wind.

Eli smiling at the above photo Brad took of us outside the courthouse.  He loves looking at photos of himself, just hates having them taken.  Go figure.

While I'm a little disappointed we don't have "the" photo from his validation hearing, I think we did the right thing by not forcing him to pose in the courtroom.  He's not fond of having his picture taken under the best of circumstances, and he was so scared I didn't want to throw him into fight or flight mode.  No photo is worth traumatizing our child.

Our reward for not forcing the courtroom photo was seeing the happy confidence in his stride as we left. 

However scared he was in the courtroom, I think his memory of validation day will be a good one.  What more could we want for him, and us?


  1. i absolutely love the photo of him clutching the paper and striding into his new life with jeans and cowboy boots! the other would have looked staged... you did good, mom!
    jessie light

  2. He is such a strong little man...evidenced by that strut in the boots! Congrats on officially being official :)

  3. Great job mama, always putting your sweet boy first, and look at the precious photos you did get, he is stinking adorable in those boots!

  4. Congrats on your Forever family Kathleen. Love his outfit.