As 16-month-old Aislynne stood on the courtroom table in front of Jeffco Judge Ann Gail Meinster on Nov. 21, her soon-to-be mother, Jena, straightened the young girl’s new dress.
Everyone in the courtroom laughed as Aislynne danced on the table, clapping her tiny hands to an unheard rhythm.
“Well, let’s make her yours officially,” Meinster told Jena through laughter.
Sometimes it takes nine months and a delivery to augment a family. And sometimes, as in the case of Aislynne, it takes a judge, social workers, lots of legal work and a loving home with open hearts.
But no matter the genesis, the end result is the same.
Jena has been Aislynne’s foster parent since she was 10 weeks old. Shortly after taking the child in, Jena met her future husband, Luis. The two had since dedicated their lives to getting Aislynne ready to move into a permanent home.
“It’s funny; when we started, we didn’t start out to adopt. We were just doing foster care work,” said Jena, who asked that her family’s last name not be used. “My focus has always been on her — not where she’d go or who’d she be with. It was just about getting her healthy.”
But as Jena and Luis continued to take care of Aislynne, the child’s biological mother often missed her weekly visits with Aislynne.
“When you start doing foster care, you just take care of them and try to give them a home,” Luis said. “Once we saw that (Aislynne) wouldn’t go back to her biological mother, we started to get excited about the possibility of adopting her.”
“How could you not want to keep her?” Jena asked.
So Jena and Luis began the six-month process of adopting Aislynne, which ended last week. But they weren’t the only parents in the courtroom that day.
Kim Alberls’ adoption of her great-niece, 2-year-old Addy, also was finalized. Alberls has taken care of Addy since she was 2 days old.
Addy’s birth mother, Alberls’ niece, has been unable to care for her since Addy was born.
“She’s always been my daughter. This just finalized it,” Alberls said. “This is a new beginning. It’s Addy and I starting over together.”
In Jeffco, there have been 37 adoptions this year, with 25 more children waiting for permanent homes through adoption. The county partners with Arapahoe and Douglas counties on a foster care system that includes 100 homes.
“It’s a lot of work to just get to through the process. But it’s small when we can have successes like (Aislynne) at the end of the day,” said Nicole Hadley, Aislynne’s caseworker for Jeffco Human Services. “All the sad stuff we see going on, we live for these days. These are the great days we look forward to going to work.”
While the court proceedings meant the world to the new parents, both Addy and Aislynne seemed oblivious to the occasion. The two kids didn’t need legal documents to know who their parents are.
“She calls us Mom and Dad all the time now,” Jena said.
Contact Ramsey Scott at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.