Family finds way to finalize adoption during COVID-19 crisis

By Sarah Culbreth, Texas Right to Life

The Caseys have been anticipating the day their daughters would officially be theirs.  Sarah and Scott Casey had already endured the many setbacks that come with adopting a sibling group through foster care in Indiana.  They could not be more excited for the official adoption day, set for March 19, 2020. As the COVID-19 outbreak shutdown public courts, they were crushed that the adoption might again be delayed. 

They knew their three daughters waiting to officially be recognized in their forever family would be even more crushed.  On March 19, the family received an unexpected gift: the adoption went through. The Indy Star  reports, “There would be no photos from the court hearing to remember.  There would be no swearing in or testimonies or gavel-banging. But it was just as official: They were Caseys, signed and sealed.”

The Caseys learned that the judge had finalized their adoption by email.  While the adoption did not happen the way they expected, the family still had so many reasons to celebrate.  Sierra, 15; Carly, 14; and Taylor, 11, are now all legally part of the family. The three girls have been living with the Caseys and their two biological sisters for three years, and there is no doubt that Sarah and Scott have been there for them over the years and developed love and trust.

Just four years ago, Sarah and Scott didn’t have any children.  When a distant relative had a baby daughter in need of adoption, the Caseys welcomed her into their home and soon began the process of adopting two of her siblings.  Once the rapidly growing family moved into a bigger house, Sarah and Scott began the process of adopting the other two sisters. Now sisters Sierra, Carly, Taylor, Bella, and Lilly are all under one roof.

In the years that the girls have been with the Caseys, Sarah and Scott say they have grown by leaps and bounds.  Where some of the girls refused to call them “Mom” and “Dad” at first, they are now confident that Sarah and Scott will be there for them and all were eager to take the Casey last name.

While the family wasn’t able to follow through with plans to celebrate with extended family at a restaurant due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they still wore the shirts they had custom printed for the big day reading: “Gotcha forever,” “Team Casey” and the date of the adoption.  Instead of their planned dinner at a restaurant, the immediate family ordered takeout burritos and ate them at home.

Despite the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic, the family still recognized how important the day was.  “It’s still a super exciting day,” Sarah told the Indy Star. “We’re officially Caseys today.”

While many people associate adoption with newborn babies like Lilly, the reality is that there are thousands of children like Lilly’s four sisters who are in need of a loving forever family.  In Texas, families like the Caseys who have adopted children from the foster care system have contributed to a historic year in which more children left the foster care system than entered.  While the Caseys are in Indiana, their story of finding a way to finalize the adoption without meeting the judge in person is an indication of what many states will be doing in the coming weeks to respond to the needs of families during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak has put tremendous strain and uncertainty on our communities.  As Texas braces for the full impact of the pandemic, we have been encouraged by the stories of courage, lives saved, and people coming together in the face of unprecedented challenges.