RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - We first met Abel and, at the time, his cousin Jenny in November 2016. They were taking a private yoga class. Something Jenny found helps Abel cope with what’s happened in his eight years of life. Three of which, he’d lived as a foster son in her home.
Abel poses for Reno photographer Jeramie Lu on his adoption day.
The next time we would see each other? On a day that would change his life forever. His adoption day. Marking the event with family portraits. And then:
The proceeding. The culmination of so much growth between a young boy, and his forever family.
“The stability is something that I don't think can be replaced. That feeling is kind of indescribable in this situation,” Jenny says. “Just knowing that he's mine. He's going to be here forever.”
Abel had never been to a birthday party, or had a birthday party until moving in with Jenny. He’d never been swimming until moving in with Jenny. Abel says, in her home, “I learned that everybody's, everybody has kindness and friendship.”
And before pounding the gavel, those in the gallery voiced their love for this new family. Including his CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer Sylvia Fineran, who’d been with them from the start.
“Throughout this process a child needs a voice,” Fineran said, “and I wanted to be that voice.”
“I can't tell you what a happy, privileged event like this is for me as a person. Let alone as a judge,” says Judge Egan Walker.
“I have signed the decree of adoption. He is now your son. Congratulations. (Applause.)”
Walker is a board director of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
“The National Council in particular has taught me and really helps judges across the nation understand is that if we can't provide reunification services, if we can't give back to families of origin, we owe it to kids to give them a permanent family. A forever family,” says Walker. “I'm fond of saying kids need very little really kids need food, water and love. And only through an adoptive family, really, can you get the gold standard of a home for a home in which they can thrive.”
“It was an overwhelming amount of emotions and joy and sadness. There was a little bit of sadness. It's sad that Abel lost what he lost and couldn't be reclaimed,” Jenny says. “But it's happy because he got something in return.”
When asked what being adopted means to him, Abel says, “Really, fun... Feels safe... She always gave me love... Hug me.”
“There’s always a way. If there’s any room in your heart I think you can find the means to help somebody who needs it. A child.”