When This Foster Mom Adopted A Child In Need, The Judge’s Words Brought Her To Tears

April Carter had been through heartbreak after heartbreak on her road to becoming a mother. She had lost one unexpected pregnancy to a rare genetic disorder, for example, while her first foster baby also hadn’t stayed in her care for long. And owing to the ordeals that she had been through, April may well have approached adopting foster daughter Chloe with some trepidation.

Chloe had joined April and her husband, Justin, when she had been only 15 months old, and the pair had taken care to bond with and love the little girl like a daughter. But in order to look after Chloe forever, the couple needed to officially adopt her – and only a lawmaker’s approval could make that happen.

So, on Valentine’s Day 2019 April and Justin sat before Judge Natalie T. Chase to await her verdict on the matter. And when April heard the judge’s short explanation for her decision – as well as Justin’s heartfelt response to the ruling – the already emotional woman was driven to tears.

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But prior to reaching this moment, U.S. Army veteran Justin and family photographer April had already been through a lot. A couple of months before they were set to marry, for instance, the pair had received the shock of their lives after taking a pregnancy test and seeing it come back positive. The news had stunned April and her then-fiancé, as she later wrote for Love What Matters, because they had “expected to struggle with infertility.”

Instead, though, Justin and April’s life together started off in almost fairy-tale fashion. “We had our dream wedding on the beach, and we were excited to go home and begin house-hunting and preparing for parenthood,” April went on to explain. And a call from the newlyweds’ nurse yielded yet more good news: their baby-to-be, a girl, was growing healthily.

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Not long after the Carters received that happy update, they named their future daughter Kinley Mae. April kicked into nesting mode, too, by transforming Kinley’s room into a very pink place for her to sleep. And at the mom-to-be’s 20-week check-up, it may have appeared as though even Kinley herself was excited. She moved so much in the womb, you see, that the technician couldn’t capture any of the required ultrasound pictures.

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But although the medical professional told April not to worry on that occasion, a follow-up appointment struck fear into the expectant mother’s heart. During that check-up, April later recalled, her doctor had informed her, “Yep, that looks like hypoplastic left heart syndrome” – in short, a defect that stalls development of half of the organ. “There were several other signs now pointing to a fatal chromosomal disorder,” April added in her piece for Love What Matters.

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April and Justin forewent any more tests on their unborn daughter; instead, they “decided to wait until Kinley was born to have definitive answers.” Nevertheless, the mom-to-be spent the following weeks of her pregnancy dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions – as well as grappling with a slew of different possible scenarios for her daughter’s future.

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At first, April hoped that her daughter would be healed somehow. Then, in time, she began to accept that she may not get to meet Kinley because of her poor health. Still, the pregnant woman held out hope that she could at least spend some time with her child before the worst happened.

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Then, 37 weeks into the pregnancy, April’s weekly ultrasound went silent. And when nurses finally found Kinley’s heartbeat, the noise was so faint that the medical team realized they had to deliver the little girl immediately. So, April underwent an emergency C-section – and, miraculously, her daughter survived.

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But, sadly, April and Justin’s time with Kinley was limited. On the third day of the newborn’s life, doctors confirmed that she had Trisomy 18 – an often fatal condition that brings with it serious medical complications. And, tragically, Kinley survived only a week after her diagnosis, with her short life apparently teaching her parents “that joy and grief can exist at the same time.”

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April later revealed that it had taken her and Justin a further year before they could reopen the conversation about having children. And at first, they opted to find out if they were capable of conceiving. But after trying for a baby for a few months, the couple realized that their minds had changed; instead, they both felt impelled to adopt.

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The Carters therefore researched their options and concluded that they wanted to foster children with the intention of later adopting them. And April later explained that decision by writing, “The need is so high for foster and adoptive parents in the U.S. foster system.” Indeed, according to the U.S. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, nearly 443,000 of the nation’s kids were in foster care on a given day in 2017.

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In order to become certified foster parents, then, April and Justin went through a half-year’s worth of training and paperwork. And the Carters’ household initially looked to find a new member, too, when the phone rang just one day after the pair earned their credentials. You see, a six-week-old baby girl needed care, and the foster agency suggested to April and Justin that they should be the ones to take in the child. This was despite the fact that the mother’s friend – who was based in another state – planned to pursue adoption.

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April and Justin agreed, though, with the couple soon finding themselves on the way to pick up their foster daughter. And they bonded with the new arrival, too, as April later explained in her piece for Love What Matters. “[The girl] was so sweet and beautiful. Our love for her was no different than our love for Kinley Mae. We were in awe of this little bundle,” she lovingly described.

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But regardless of Justin and April’s affection for the child, the trio’s time together would be short-lived. Yes, while the foster agency had originally assumed that the planned adoption by the biological mother’s friend would fall through, this didn’t turn out to be the case. Instead, the baby’s parent actually signed her rights over – meaning the Carters ultimately had to hand the infant to her official forever family.

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April later revealed her thoughts on the devastating news, writing, “This is the point it would have been easy to back out of this whole adoption journey. Losing another daughter, breaking down to ugly tears for days after she left… But this was when we remembered those important lessons [taught] through Kinley.” But there was still hope that she and Justin would officially become parents. Shortly before that child had been taken from their custody, you see, the couple had welcomed baby Chloe into their lives.

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And Chloe had joined the Carters after what appeared to be a stroke of luck. April’s brother had adopted a boy with a sister also in need of a home, and this in turn led April and Justin to reach out to their caseworker. Yet the aspiring parents weren’t optimistic at first. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would actually be chosen to be her forever family,” April went on to write. “[But] Chloe finally came to us as her adoptive placement when she was 15 months old.”

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Then, seven months or so after having welcomed Chloe home, April and Justin felt ready to reopen their doors to yet another foster child. The mom therefore texted their foster agency, and she and her husband got a call one day later. And yet again it was good news: a 16-day-old baby needed foster parents.

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“Truth be told, Justin and I had agreed we would not take another infant again. No way would we put ourselves in a situation to experience infant loss… again,” April would admit in her Love What Matters article. But the couple eventually remembered all the good that had come from bringing home their first foster baby, leading them to accept the offer. And as it happens, they introduced Chloe to her new sister – nicknamed Baby K – that same night.

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So, with both Chloe and Baby K at home, April and Justin had plenty to do parenting-wise. And as the couple had their hands full, they duly chose to remove their names from the agency’s list of potential fosterers. Even so, the two had always dreamed of bringing home another child – perhaps one a few years older than Chloe.

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As luck would have it, then, one of April’s fellow foster moms informed her about a three-year-old girl in need of an adoptive family. The woman in question told her foster case worker about the Carters, too. And within days, the couple got a call asking whether they would take the little girl into their home – a request that they also went on to accept.

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So, with the addition of Madelyn to their brood, the Carters expanded to become a family of five – even though, as April later admitted, “having three children under three years old was never [their] plan.” Fortunately, though, Madelyn appeared to make the transition well, with the little girl quickly referring to her fosterers as her mommy and daddy.

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But, of course, the Carters did have to adjust. After all, in the 13 months since they’d earned their license to become foster parents, they now had three daughters in their charge. “Our life quickly became busy, messy, beautiful and full of joy,” April has since explained of this period. All that remained, then, was to make their family permanent through the next step: adoption.

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Chloe’s chance to officially become a Carter came first, although she and her parents-to-be had to get a judge’s approval. To do so, then, the three of them traveled from their home in Indiana to petition for an out-of-state adoption. And the trio weren’t alone, either, as more than 30 friends and family members also made the journey to show support for the adoptive parents’ request.

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Among the crowd, too, were Chloe’s biological brothers. One of the boys, of course, had been adopted by April’s sibling, while April and Justin had also bonded with a third family who had brought home Chloe’s other brother. And altogether, as April wrote, the sets of parents were “all committed to supporting each other while raising these amazing kiddos and keeping them connected for the rest of their lives.”

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Suffice to say, then, that there was an amazing display of love and support in the courtroom from those who knew April, Justin and Chloe. Nevertheless, it was up to the judge to decide whether or not the Carters could have Chloe as an official member of their family. And with the future of the clan yet to be decided, the day carried a lot of weight for Chloe’s potential adoptive mom and dad.

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“We waited so long and went through so much to finally have a forever child. It was a very emotional day,” April wrote of that occasion. She also described how she did her best to remain composed – and she was successful in that endeavor for the most part. Even so, her feelings did bubble to the surface when it came time for people to testify on the Carters’ behalf.

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April wrote, “I blinked back tears as the case worker and attorney spoke highly of how Chloe was doing in our home and how meant to be we all were for each other.” Then, finally, the judge was ready to hand down her decision. And the conversation that transpired made it impossible for April to hide her emotion.

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After hearing what Chloe’s caseworker and the Carters’ attorney had to say, Judge Chase looked at the potential parents and simply said, “Thank you for taking a child in need.” Justin’s response was even more heartwarming, however. “We needed her more,” his wife has reported him as saying.

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Then, following that exchange, April’s tears began to flow freely – perhaps because her husband’s words hit home. She later wrote, “There is so much truth to that statement. We needed Chloe.” And it seemed as though Judge Chase knew that, too.

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At the very least, the official had made her decision – one that the Carters had likely been keenly awaiting. “The final decree of adoption of the child is hereby granted,” Judge Chase declared, “and the name of the child is hereby changed to Chloe Marie Carter.” Then, after she had finished reciting the legal protections and privileges that came with her designation, the judge warmly congratulated April and Justin.

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And everyone in the courtroom clapped upon hearing the news – including Chloe herself. Members of the group beamed, too, as they gathered together for photos in which April held a sign that read, “Prayed for. Longed for. Loved. Adopted.” The message also shared the date on which the adoption had become official – which just so happened to be Valentine’s Day 2019.

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The Carter family’s story was far from over, though, and on May 19, 2019, April shared an update on their saga via Facebook. In particular, she revealed that she and her husband had received an official date for Madelyn’s adoption hearing, which was scheduled to take place on June 28th of that year. “2019 is shaping up to be a very busy year for our growing family,” the mom added.

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What’s more, there had been yet more good news regarding Baby K, as a March 2019 court date had crystallized the Carters’ future with their youngest foster daughter. April wrote on Facebook that month, “We are so excited to announce that Baby K’s case plan is officially adoption.”

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So, Chloe’s adoption potentially marked the first of three for April and Justin. But the mom seemingly hasn’t been daunted by the process; instead, she considers it “just the beginning” of her and her husband’s parenthood story. Indeed, as April explained for Love What Matters, they “plan to continue growing [their] family through foster care and adoption.”

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And on Mother’s Day 2019, April made it clear just how happy she was in her role as a mom. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have four perfect daughters,” she wrote on Facebook, referring to Kinley, Chloe, Madelyn and Baby K. “I am blessed and oh so busy.”

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Of course, April knows that not every person dreaming of parenthood has seen their wish come true yet. That’s why she concluded her Love What Matters piece with a bit of advice for anyone experiencing a rough period – particularly those who have dreamed of building families of their own.

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“My advice to any person going through a hard time is to always keep your focus on the joy and stay open minded about God’s plan for your life,” April said. “Your life does not need to look like anyone else’s for it to be full of joy and beauty.”

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And in conclusion, April wrote, “It would have been easy for us to fall apart over infertility, infant loss or a failed adoption. Instead, we have chosen joy.” The mom had simply trusted in her destiny, in fact, and – as she put it – that “plan does not disappoint.” At the very least, it led to her and her husband receiving the happy family that they had always wanted – and their clan is likely only going to continue to grow, too.

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