Choosing to adopt their boy Nicholas was not an easy decision for Jason and Janet Howard to make.
They desperately wanted children. They had tried for eight years to have a baby, then went through in vitro fertilization and endured the heartache of a miscarriage.
The Scottsdale couple know there were plenty of children out there who needed the kind of love and stability they could provide. Adoption seemed like the right option.
But first, they had to grapple with their grief.
This was not the family they had dreamed about when they married. Like most young couples, they planned on having children the biological way, with a pregnancy and prenatal vitamins and birthing classes and the whole bit.
They grieved for the baby they almost had. The tiny baby-to-be had a name, and Jason and Janet had plans for how their lives would be with this child.
Once they made it through that process, the work — and the joy — could begin.
"The decision to go forward and try to adopt was such a huge relief," Jason said. "It was such a wonderful choice and a wonderful decision for our family."
The couple went through an adoption agency, and Nicholas came home Dec. 7. He was 3 days old.
Now staring down his first birthday, the boy is as rambunctious as any 11-month-old, and more independent than most. He loves airplanes and being outside. He is, needless to say, the light of his parents’ lives.
On Saturday, Nicholas’ adoption will become final, a milestone his mother says is, in many ways, more important than the birthday he will celebrate two weeks later. To share this special day, Nicholas will join more than 100 other children who officially will become members of their families during the fifth annual National Adoption Day at Durango Juvenile Court Center in Phoenix.
This event gives the public a peek at what usually is a closed-door process, perhaps inspiring some families to take the plunge themselves.
At last year’s Adoption Day, held at the Southeast Juvenile Court Facility in Mesa, young couples quietly watched from the back of the courtrooms as judges approved a steady stream of adoptions. Tears flowed and families rejoiced, posed for photographs with their judge and headed outside for cake.
Judges and court staff line up to volunteer on Adoption Day, a welcome respite from the typical day in juvenile court involving sad stories and difficult decisions.
On this day, the decisions are easy and there is only happiness. Families like the Howards who have waited for years to have a child of their own can finally tuck the birth certificate into the safety deposit box and exhale.
Families who are still waiting can attend the celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Durango court, 3131 W. Durango St. Handouts and information about adoption will be available. You also can call the state Department of Economic Security, (602) 255-5437 or (877) 543-7633, or visit www.de.state.az.us/dcyf .adoption.
One day Jason and Janet will talk with Nicholas about Adoption Day, show him the pictures and tell him how he came to be their son.
"We don’t want it to feel like it’s some big secret," Janet said. "He’s just that much more special because he came to us in a different way."