NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — As with many events during the pandemic, adoption hearings In the Hamilton County Courthouse have moved to a virtual mode. They haven't held an in-person final adoption hearing here since March.
That changed Friday.
Twelve such hearings happened in a Noblesville courtroom, marking National Adoption Week.
Twins Millie and Madelynn don't fully understand why they're wearing facemasks in Superior Court II, or the role the man in the black robe behind the bench plays in changing their lives. They knew, however, it was a special day, unlike any other.
“How old are you guys today?” asked attorney Grant Kirsh.
The girls held up five fingers.
“Five years old? That’s pretty awesome,’ Kirsh said.
Friday, Millie and Madelynn's birthday, was also the day they officially became part of the Riley family. Shannon and Rory Riley have fostered and loved the girls for more than two years.
“We’re here today for a final adoption hearing for these two young ladies,” Judge Jonathan Brown announced to a nearly empty courtroom. “I need you all to raise your right hand."
Watching it all via video conferencing were family members who couldn’t be there because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Everyone that’s here, we’re all in support of the adoption today?” Kirsh asked more than a dozen people appearing on the video screen.
“Yes,” they replied in unison.
“From this day forward, Millie Sue Riley and Madelynn Grace Riley are yours to have and to hold. Congratulations,” said Judge Brown, as the Rileys, including Millie and Madelynn, began cheering and clapping.
“This is a day that we’ve been waiting for and praying for,” said Shannon Riley. “It was a miracle. It was better than what we expected.”
“It’s an honor,” said Rory Riley.
The joy of it all wasn’t lost on the two little girls.
“I’m excited,” said Madelynn, hugging a teddy bear given to her by Judge Brown.
Asked what are she was excited about for their birthday, Millie responded “Us getting adopted.”
Afterward, it was off to celebrate with balloons, cake and presents, the stuff dreams are made of when you’re five and it’s your birthday. Because even in a pandemic, life goes on.