We finalized Rose's adoption today! It went really well and we had a great day in the Alameda County Court in Hayward. The girls had a good morning and both went down for early naps (hallelujah!). And Paul took off work early, which the girls were pretty pleased about.
We had to bribe Clara with fruit snacks a couple of times (yes, we resort to bribes when necessary) because she was not impressed with the boring courtroom even though I had brought along a bag of books and coloring implements and other fun things that I thought would occupy her. But mostly she was really good. And Rose was just as smiley and happy and talkative as usual and was definitely the most boisterous person in the court, causing everybody in the room (there were two other families finalizing adoptions at the same time) to turn around and smile at her.
We went back to the judge's chambers and had such a nice judge who went through the adoption paperwork with us and our commitment to raise and love Rose and support and encourage her in everything she does. Then she announced her decision that we are fit parents and signed the final paperwork and that was that. Her clerk came back in and took a couple, truly horrible photos (seriously - how can people be such terrible photographers? have they never used a camera before? the photo below was the only one that worked at all and even at that it is blurry and I had to crop the heck out of it to make it look okay) and then we went back to the courtroom to wait while some additional paperwork was processed.
Another adoptive mom graciously took a photo for us in the courtroom while we waited (and did a much better job of it, thank goodness).
And as we were walking back to our seats a little voice came on the speaker in the room. Clara had noticed the microphone on the witness stand and decided to entertain the bored courtroom. Everybody started chuckling and my initial instinct was to go get her and usher her back to my seat, I realized, "what the heck, she isn't hurting anybody and nothing was going on in the room" so we just let her keep going and grabbed the camera instead. Eventually she started into the Pledge of Allegiance and recited almost the entire thing to everyone's delight, particularly when she put a feminist spin on it by adding the line "and to the Republic, and all the womens..." It was awesome and when she finished she put both arms up in the air in a "touchdown" or mike drop pose and walked off grinning to the applause in the courtroom. We love her so much.
Next we went to the filing office to get certified copies of the adoption paperwork, which took quite a while.
But Rose had a plan for keeping everybody entertained. After having watched her big sister's performance Rose decided to put on her own show by standing up against the glass window to the clerk's office and blowing raspberries and licking the heck out of that window to the amusement of the dozen or so clerks inside who all started smiling and pointing at her, which just encouraged Rose even more.
That little giraffe tongue - seriously it kills me. As do her piggy tails and seeing her in her cute little polka dot dress with black polka dot tights.
And a couple more quick family photos, this time in front of the courthouse (no luck getting Rose to look at the camera).
Rather than going home we decided to take the party to Fenton's in Oakland for a banana split to share. For the record, we always get the Junior size, which is still WAY too big for any regular mortal and we knew there was no chance we were going to finish it. But it was still delicious. We asked for at least 3 cherries (you know, to avoid any fighting or tantrums) and the nice waitress brought a bowl full of maraschinos which Clara seemed to enjoy even more than the ice cream. Although she definitely loved the strawberry ice cream with strawberry topping too. And incidentally, we always sub out the vanilla ice cream for toasted almond and get marshmallow topping on the chocolate ice cream rather than pineapple topping. Because that's how we roll. Rose enjoyed some delicious sweet potatoes and apricots and then gnawed away at a pickle spear. She also figured out how to suck from a straw and enjoyed some water along with a couple teeny bites of strawberry ice cream (second child perk - getting tastes of sweets way earlier than her older sister ever did).
On our way home we stopped by the Oakland temple and walked around the grounds for a little bit while I scheduled our temple sealing with the temple coordinator, which will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving (hooray!). It was such a special day and we feel so lucky that Rose is finally officially a part of our family.