It was also a stark contrast inside the courtroom. We have always felt so alone and so intimidated in that courtroom. Today, as we literally had a room full of family and friends there to back us up, we felt so confident and supported as a family. It was overwhelmingly emotional. As soon as she had us raise our right hands and state our names, we were fighting the ugly cry. And losing.
We were asked to confirm that we wanted to adopt him, and then asked if we vowed to love him and treat him as we would any biological child. As we sat there with India, our little surprise in the midst of this journey, I knew full well that we did love Jafta as if he were our own biological child. When she announced he was now officially Jafta Jordan Howerton, the room erupted in applause.
When the day was done, we wanted to check in with Jafta to find out how he was feeling and what his thoughts were. This was his reply:
"It was a big day. We went to the court and we waited and waited and waited, for a really long time. And then finally, Ryder came!! And then everybody clapped for me. And then Ryder went down the elevator and I was sad, but then I saw him again!"
Leave it to Jafta to measure the gravity of the day by how much Ryder hangage he got! Love the 3-year-old brain.
As we process the end of this long road, we feel incredibly grateful for our son and for the friends and family who supported us and prayed us through this adoption. We can't even begin to say the weight that has been lifted off our shoulders, and it has struck me in big and small ways over the last 24 hours. He's ours. If someone had told me when we were placed our baby son that he would be in preschool by the time we finalized, I probably would have run screaming for the hills. But somehow, day by day, we got through it, and Jafta has been a gift worth waiting for. He teaches me daily with his ability to be in the moment, find the joy in small things, and live life with a zeal and energy that is inspiring (and yes, occasionally exhausting). We praise God for his hand in our family. Jafta, YOU ARE LOVED.