Judge, caseworkers become Disney princesses in ‘magical’ adoption ceremony

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 17:18:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Grand Rapids family adopted two daughters who they have fostered for nearly two years last week, but it was who walked into their adoption hearing that made it extra special.

“It was amazing,” said Sarah Koning, recalling adopting her daughters with her husband Jim last Wednesday.

IMG_4885Once upon a time, two little girls, Danielle and Nevaeh, became sisters. Danielle showed off some of her favorite toys and medals she’s earned to FOX 17 Thursday, making clear that she and her sister are home.

Their parents, Sarah and Jim, continued fostering and working hard for nearly two years to adopt them. That is, until Honorable Patricia Gardner became one of Danielle’s favorite Disney princesses in Family Division of Kent County Circuit Court.

“We’ll see if you recognize who I am,” Judge Gardner said to Danielle and the Konings, during their adoption hearing. “I’m going to put on this red bow. Do you know who I am?”

Danielle immediately responded, “Snow White!”

And so their court room became a real life fairy tale: Danielle said, “I didn’t know what to think,” when she recalled eight Disney princesses walking through the court room doors.

It all became a moment that Danielle said she will retell to her sister Nevaeh one day.

Koning adoption 4“I can tell Nevaeh when she gets bigger,” said Danielle.

“I would like to tell her adoption means that when someone, when your real mom can’t take care of you and you go to someone else, and they can take care of you. Then adoption, the other thing, you have a celebration, and that means you stay there.”

Balloons still lined the rooms of the Koning’s home Thursday as Sarah shared her and her
husband’s sentiment.

“We’re just really thrilled that we got to adopt both of them and keep them here because we love them like they’re our own,” she said.

A canvas hangs in Danielle’s room that states the dates of when she was born, home, and now forever: a reminder that she and Nevaeh are forever home, happily, ever after.

The Koning family the day of their daughters' adoption hearings, June 8.

The Koning family the day of their daughters' adoption hearings, June 8.

If you would like to learn more about adoption, or would like to start the adoption process for children living in foster care in Michigan, call Orchards Children’s Services at: 1 (855) 694-7301.