VOICES: Saying ‘I do’ to adoption

Ashlee Davis’ tale of making her family official

Ashlee Davis, Quick Teads reporter



DAVIS“Hey, Ash!”

My mother calls to me from her bedroom. I put down her phone, the one I had been playing “Temple Run” on, and leave the couch to walk towards her room. I’m slightly antsy,  just like every kid is when their parents call their name.

Once inside, I see my brother Zack sitting on the bed. My stepdad is there too, with a big smile on his face.

“Hey daddy!”

I started calling him “dad” as I neared the age of 8. He is my dad, since I barely even see Delton, my biological father; I visit him every other weekend and during the month of July. My parents are divorced, and sure, it’s difficult: At 8, I can’t quite comprehend the gravity of the word “divorce.”

I crawl up by my brother, having a little trouble because the bed is a few feet off the ground and with my small frame, it’s hard to scale. Once there, I look at my dad, his eyes full of love. I giggle for no reason, and that makes him laugh too.

“Ash,” my dad says, a more serious air suddenly filling the room. “Do you love me?”

“Yeah, dad,” I say, “Why wouldn’t I? You’re my dad.

“OK, just making sure, because I have a question for you.”

I nod, wanting him to continue.

“How would you like to be adopted by me?”

The question makes my world, heart and mind stop. The I give the answer that changes everything in our family.

“I would love that.”

Standing here, six months later, the day has finally arrived. I remember it so clearly, it almost feels like yesterday. I look in the mirror, at my mother, then at my dad, then at me. The only one missing is my brother. Zack is putting on his dress blues – meant for Civil Air Patrol, at his school, Red Oak Junior High. It’s the only formal thing he has to wear.

I smile, and look once more at my mom and dad, how happy they are to be with each other and to be going through with the adoption, no matter how stressful it may have been for them.

I smile at my dad. “I love you, daddy.”

My mom smiles at me and dad signs “I love you,” the way I taught him. I sign it back, walking out of the bathroom because I hear my brother coming into the kitchen, readying for his attack on our food.

Mom comes out of her bedroom and asks for a family photo with me, Zack and dad. I laugh slightly in the picture, even though it’s early, too early, on a Saturday.

“You ready?” Mom asks. Zack and I nod, and we leave the house, excitement building in my stomach, those small and numerous butterflies swarming around in there.

We arrive at the courthouse about an hour later, taking one last picture of me as a “Nicholson” before going into the courtroom. As the doors open, I see many people sitting in the seats behind the wooden guard to separate the audience from the defendant and the prosecutor.

I can feel my heart start to speed up as we sit down on the cold wooden benches, fidgeting with my fingers, thinking about what is coming next. How I was about to no longer be connected to my biological father in any way other than memories.

I watch as the people before us try to settle a divorce, getting everything finalized so they’ll no longer be stuck in an unhappy marriage. I don’t understand why people do that, committing to each other then just forgetting that they ever said “I love you,” or those two words: “I do.”

Finally, I hear our names called by the judge. His voice seems to echo as the people around us watch our family stand up; some seem confused, some don’t care at all, others smile.

We walk up to the stand where the judge sits, my heart beating faster than before, which I didn’t even think was possible. I look to my left, at my parents, my real parents, then to my right where my brother stands, a happy but nervous smile on his face.

“Please, raise your right hand to be sworn in,” the judge says. I raise my hand, along with the rest of my family, in unison. “Do you solemnly swear to state the truth, and nothing but the truth?”

I keep my hand in the air the entire time, thinking that is what I am supposed to do.

At the end, we all say “I do.” Mom and dad start to show the judge everything that is needed for the adoption process, handing up various documents, from our birth certificates to our social security cards.

“All right,” he says, “I now pronounce you a ‘Davis.’ Dismissed.” He slams his gavel on the resting piece, and I break into a wide smile.

I walk out of the building feeling like a new person, a different person. I have dad and mom, and now I can say that I am their child, I belong to them.  

The two words that I will never forget: “I do.”