When Leah was born, Leah's mother was unable to care for her. Within two months, Leah was placed in foster care and was matched with foster parents Michelle and Eduardo. She was in a supportive school community, thriving in Michelle and Eduardo's home, and most importantly, shown the love to experience a good life. Yet, Michelle and Eduardo feared that one day the court's would take away Leah and she'd be gone.
“We dedicated our time to going to court and fighting for her,” recalled Michelle. At the same time as they were stepping up their efforts to adopt Leah, Leah’s birth mother was backing off.
Bienvenidos Adoption Program Manager Victoria Ramirez regularly attended court with the family so that she could explain to them what was happening. Each time, the judge handed down the same opinion: the court case was “continued,” meaning, any adoption proceedings were stalled “The pressure was so intense, sitting there and hearing a judge decide your child’s future,” recalled Michelle.
But the two never wavered. Looking back, Michelle and Eduardo agree that the support that was extended to them by their families, their foster care social worker and the adoptions manager from Bienvenidos is what helped them to survive this very emotional journey.
Meanwhile, Leah had grown into a talkative, outgoing three-year-old. “She is funny and intelligent, and soaks up everything we tell her,” said Michelle. Leah’s life was full with 15 aunts and uncles, 13 cousins, and 4 grandparents. “We couldn’t image letting her go,” said Michelle.
On May 4, 2017, Michelle, Eduardo and their extended family and friends –more than 30 of them –arrived a half hour early at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park for an 11 a.m. court time. Leah wore a white dress adorned with pink flowers, her hair curled and pulled back with a matching bow.
Before leaving for court, Michelle asked Leah, “What’s special about today?” Leah answered, “It’s my adoption day!”
“What does that mean?” Michelle continued. Leah responded, “It’s my happily ever after.”
The court ceremony was short, maybe 10 minutes. The ramifications, however, for this family, will last a lifetime.
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