The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Mommy, Am I Adopted Now?"

Last week I got a call from our lawyer asking if this Tuesday, May 12th, would work for the finalization of the adoption of the Vance. This came as a surprise since, only a week earlier, she had asked me whether the second week in June worked. (A facilitator working for OHEL apparently actually facilitated).

MHW and I cleared our calendars. We weren't going to let this opportunity pass. (We were also pleased that May 12th turned out to be Lag B'Omer, very fitting since the Vance, whose real name is Meira, has brought so much light into our lives).

We showed up at the Queens County Family Court at around 9, my in-laws eagerly joining us. We were soon met by our lawyer (with whom I had only spoken to on the phone). She was a lovely women who immediately hit it off with the Vance. You could tell that she loved what she was doing.

Shortly thereafter, we were met by a swarm from OHEL, led by David Mandel, its CEO. Also attending were Shelly, the head of foster care services (and our very first close connection from OHEL dating back almost ten years), Chaya Suri, the supervisor of the Vance's case, Ruth, the Vance's caseworker, who was instrumental in brokering the open adoption aggreement, and even Rena, the Vance's former caseworker who doesn't work for OHEL anymore but wouldn't have considered missing the moment. MHW and I were so touched by the presence of the people whose hard work and mesiras nefesh were responsible for getting us to this point.

The scene in the waiting area was pretty weird. Hugs, pictures, the exchange of stories, more pictures. The Vance, didn't really know what was going on but was happy to be the center of attention (and receive a few toys from Ruth). As disruptive as her visits to OHEL sometimes were, she always liked to go because of how well everyone treated her at OHEL. She, Miss Personality, was a star there. She was very happy to be among her friends again.

After a half hour, we were called in. Unlike previous court appearances, this proceeding was in a conference room with Judge de Phillips at the head of the table.

MHW and I affirmed that all the informaation we had provided on our written submisions was true and correct and that there had been no material changes. The clerk then had us confirm our signatures as well as the Vance's new name. The Judge then put some stuff on the record and signed the order of adoption.

As he signed, he said, "When I sign this order of adoption, I am signing an order of love."

He then spoke for a few minutes. MHW were wracking our brains to recreate his moving words. This is the best I can do right now but one of my friends is trying to get a transcript from the court (We think it was recorded).

Judge de Phillips said that we felt privileged to be there and to meet us. He said loving children is an act of humanity and that the more people who love children in this world the better off we are. He said that that to raise a child is a courageous act and that adoption was an affirmation of man's humanity. He said that, in a way, those who are loved by their parents are all "adopted", whether their parents are birth parents or not. Finally, he said that he was 72 years old and had presided over many adoptions. This was the first time he had seen so many agency staff present. He thought that was "wonderful".

We then posed for pictures with the Judge and (this being a Jewish thing) had some cookies (that Shelly had smuggled into court. The courthouse guards are usually very strict about not letting food into court. When Shelly explained that it was to celebrate an adoption, they waived her in, no problem).

As I left the conference room I told Judge de Phillips that we were privileged to be in his courtroom.

During the entire proceeding, the Vance was playing quietly with the new toys that Ruth had brought and didn't seem to be paying much attention. As we left the conference, she turned to MHW and said, "Am I adopted now?"



  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Robert J. Avrech said…

    Lovely. Adoption can save so many.

  • At 2:16 PM, Blogger SaraK said…

    So beautiful. [Wiping away tears]

  • At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    MoC- truly an inspiration. Although I'm not in a position to be as involved with Ohel as you (I kn"h have 4 little kids at home) nor do I have the strength of character to do it- but I will sign up for the Ohel bike ride!

  • At 4:07 PM, Anonymous norma demby said…

    This story is so beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for posting the link to your early posts about your daughter. They are riveting.

  • At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Mo's Bro said…

    If anyone has had the pleasure to meet MoC's wife, you'll understand why they have such a happy home!She's truly an amazing woman! My bro is lucky to have married her!

    The Vance is part of the family; always was and always will be. The only difference will be that she will tower over all of them one day!

    I wish MoC, his ("MHW")and his family much nachas, mazel and bracha from the Vance.Keep doing the great things that you do. You are an inspiration to all!

  • At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    beautiful. my daughter's name is Shayna Meira, and I know that is what your Meira will be to you (and already is!!). A true kiddush haShem you are doing, and an inspiration to all.

  • At 8:05 PM, Blogger Jacob Da Jew said…

    Amazing. inspiring.

  • At 11:45 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said…

    mazal tov!

    כשם שהכנסתם אותה למשפחתכם באהבה כן תכניסוה לתורה לחופה ולמעשים טובים

  • At 3:16 PM, Blogger FCaracus said…


    I have been reading your blog for a VERY long time and I am just thrilled for you, your holy wife, for Meira and for the whole family. I was profoundly moved by your story and am in awe of you and your wife.

    I too wiped away lots of tears reading this. Mazel Tov twice over!

  • At 4:19 PM, Blogger uberimma said…

    Mazal tov!!!!

    So glad she's adopted now. :)

  • At 5:00 PM, Blogger Fern @ Life on the Balcony said…

    Congratulations! I've been following your blog for a long time, and am so happy to know that Meira is finally officially adopted. She has a beautiful name, and I'm so glad to finally know it. First it was TT and then The Vance, neither of which fit the little girl I pictured in my head.

  • At 6:26 PM, Anonymous megapixel said…

    mazel tov. You made me cry...

  • At 1:35 PM, Blogger Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad said…

    I just got back from a trip where I wasn't able to keep up on various blogs. Just read about the adoption being complete now. I'm so happy for all of you! I don't know who is luckier... you and "MHW" for getting The Vance, or The Vance for getting you and "MHW". Mazel Tov all around!!

  • At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Yochanan said…

    Belated Mazal Tov!

    Definitely my "awww of the day".


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