On Tuesday, July 10th 2012 at 9 AM we went to the Fourth District Court in Provo Utah to sit in front of a judge and finalize Benson's adoption. This is when all of the paperwork, background checks, home visits and post placement visits are reviewed by a judge and the court decides that Benson can finally be ours, legally and lawfully, forever and for always! My mom and dad as well as my sister, Rachelle, and my sis-in-law, Tiffany, all came to be there with us and support us. We are also lucky enough that Tiffany is a photographer and was there to document the process. It was such a special morning. I was so nervous leading up to this week. I was worried about my hair, what I would wear and just knowing how to react to everything. When it actually happened, none of that mattered. All that mattered was we were now a family and Benson was ours!
I want to document for my own sake some of what happened during the proceedings. The first thing was we had a tiny scare that we didn't have all of our paperwork. The clerk came in and asked our lawyer, Dorothy Gillespie, if she had a letter from the Department of Human Services verifying our background checks. She didn't have it. The clerk then said "The judge requires that. I will talk to him". Oh my, I was a tiny bit concerned. I was thinking that if it was something with our background checks that messed this up I might hurt someone. We had to do SO many background checks during this process. One in Utah, one in Nevada, one standing in the heat and then the rain in the Philippines, the National background checks, etc. I could not believe that might be the one thing we didn't have right. She did came in a few minutes later and said he had said it was o.k. What a relief! By that time we had been waiting for the judge for about 15 minutes and Benson ended up having a stinky diaper so Ben went to change it really quickly, thinking we would have time. Well, not 30 seconds later they come to let us know the judge was on his way. He walked in, we all stood...and then the clerk had to tell the judge "the dad is changing the babies diaper". So we waited. It felt like a long time sitting at that table with the judge just waiting on us. But they returned quickly enough and things proceeded. I didn't think I would be nervous, but sitting in front of a judge is completely nerve-wracking.
Our lawyer asked us some questions that they are required to ask about our willingness to adopt this child and also our willingness to have our spouse adopt this child. They also asked us if we had anything else to add. Neither of us said much at that point. Then the judge asked us a question. He said "I read through the report that you have had some struggles trying to have a child of your own, so what has this child brought to your family?" Um, how do you answer that? I honestly don't think there is any way to put into words what Benson means to us or what he has brought to us. But I did my best to try and express a little bit. My response was "He has completed our family in every way. I kind of sometimes feel a little bit bad for him because he is going to be the child that we prayed for, we hoped for....he is everything we wanted. But I don't want him to feel like he has this burden of being this child that we waited for. But really in every way, he has just brought so much happiness to us and our families!" It was short, but I was emotional and wasn't sure I could really say much more.
Next came the best part. The Judge said "I am excited and honored to be a part of this adoption proceeding with you. I know it doesn't take long to get through this, but lasting consequences go with adopting a child today. I can see that he has brought a lot of happiness and joy to your family and is just what you guys needed I guess. Again I am happy and want to congratulate you." He then proceeded to say (I have bolded those things that really stood out to me and hit me with such power that I could not hold back the tears) "What I need to do now is make findings right now with regard to what happened today. All laws of the state of Utah regarding adoptions have been met and the necessary documents have been filed. I also find that the petitioners, Mr and Mrs Crisanto, understand the legal significance of what you are doing as well as the solemnity of your act and that it is in the best interest of Benson to be adopted by you this day. And from this day forth he will now be known as Benson Kekoa Crisanto." We then had to sign the final adoption decree and that was it! He was ours.
Again, I do not think there is any way to truly express the significance of this day or to truly share what was felt in that courtroom. This little boy has always been ours. He was meant to be in this family. The Lord knew he was coming and guided and directed us home from the Philippines to be ready for him. I remember getting the email from the agency with Sierras information asking if they could show her our profile. I remember looking at her beautiful face and thinking how much she looked like Ben's family and that she was having a baby boy December 30th and I just felt it, deep down, this was our baby. Two days later she chose us to be the parents of her child. One week later when we met her and found that we had all chosen the same Hawaiian name for this baby boy there was a special spirit there witnessing to each of us that this was meant to be. Each and every step of the way the Lord was directing us and directing Sierra to make sure that this little boy made it to our family. On July 10th at 9:28 AM it was made legal. Benson Kekoa Crisanto is our son!