EVERETT — The family counted down. They crafted a homemade chain with 40 loops. Little hands pulled off one loop each day.
Kortnei Schramm, 9, removed the last one Friday.
It was adoption day.
She and Miah, 8, went to the courthouse with their parents-to-be. The girls wore dresses they picked out themselves. Between the two, they tried on 30 dresses before finding the perfect ones.
Kortnei picked a floral print. Miah chose one with silver sequins.
The sisters-to-be told everyone that morning they were role models. They had meant supermodels.
Erin Schramm, 35, and her husband Nick, 31, have been married for six years. The couple wanted kids of their own but struggled with infertility. Instead of going through expensive tests and surgeries, they considered adoption.
They were hoping for a baby. Every room in their home near Granite Falls was child-proofed.
Then they met Miah and Kortnei.
A year ago, the girls were placed in the same foster home, and had yet to be adopted.
They acted like sisters.
“We couldn’t separate them. They’re so attached,” Erin Schramm said.
Though the girls moved into the Schramms’ house in January, the couple decided to officially adopt them on National Adoption Day. It is the only day of the year where courtrooms are open to the public for people to witness adoptions.
The first-time parents called this past year a “whirlwind of welcome to parenthood.”
Within the first month, everyone in the family got lice. Then, a case of the flu went around. A series of colds followed not long after. The family of four snuggled on the couch eating popcorn, watching movies and passing a tissue box.
“You knew they were feeling better when they’d start asking for popsicles,” Erin Schramm said.
On the weekends Miah and Kortnei paint rocks with their parents and hide them around Granite Falls for people to find. They paint phrases such as “forever family” and “love never gives up.”
On Friday, Superior Court Judge David Kurtz asked the girls to stand in the middle of the courtroom beside their parents. Nervous giggles could be heard from the gallery.
The family took an oath and signed forms.
Kurtz invited the girls to sit in the judge’s chair. He hauled out a flashy, silver gavel.
Miah and Kortnei took turns banging the gavel, finalizing what they had been waiting for.
The adoption was one of 12 Friday. The Snohomish County Superior Court partnered with the county Clerk’s Office to put on the ceremony.
Adoption Day is a national event intended to remind people of the number of children who have not found their forever families. As of mid-September, 8,796 children in Washington were in foster care.
One in five children pass the age of 18 before getting adopted, according to a statement from Cynthia Billey, the National Adoption Day coordinator.
Kurtz has noticed a change in foster care. There are not enough foster parents. Social workers take children to work with them and book a hotel room for the child to stay at night.
“There are unsung heroes in our community who act as foster parents and adoptive parents. They fulfill a real need,” Kurtz said.
For those who do find a foster home, the average wait for adoptive parents is at least three years.
Miah and Kortnei waited about a year and a half.
“We’re relieved. We’re finally a family,” Erin Schramm said.
After the adoption ceremony, the family headed downstairs to the jury lounge. Kids carried pink and blue balloons. Mascots from the Aquasox and the Everett Police Department stopped by to say hello. Miah showed off a green plush monster. Her second grade teacher let her bring the toy, the class pet, for luck.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.