KENT COUNTY, Mich — The coronavirus pandemic has put a "pause" on many things, but it could not stop one couple in Grand Rapids from finalizing their adoption this week.
Robert and Latricia Trice officially added three-year-old A'Rayah Lillian, and one-year-old Olivia Grace to their family, during a special ceremony on Zoom Tuesday.
"It was so important for us, because we could have just had the judge sign some papers and put them in the mail, but it was so important for us to have this ceremony and have people be involved," Robert told FOX 17 News.
The couple already shared a seven-year-old biological son, when they began fostering the sisters 15 months ago. They took in Olivia Grace at just three days old.
"They're amazing. They actually blessed our lives. Even though we were nervous about it, they've definitely enhanced our life and our family, for sure," said Latricia.
The girls are cousins of Latricia, who stepped in after learning they would be placed in foster care.
The family knew the long awaited "adoption day" would happen sometime this Spring, but never could have expected that local courthouses and much of the state of Michigan would be shut down due to COVID-19.
The couple had been working with Judge Richard LaFlamme in Jackson County during their journey, and asked if he would be willing to try something new to complete the adoption process.
"For me it was important, so I actually asked the question, can we do Zoom? Is that an option so I can have my family and caseworkers who have been a part of the journey?" said Latricia. "For us, it was like I wanted that moment, and I wanted to close this the right way."
During a short ceremony, they vowed to be committed parents as loved ones shared the screen and watched.
"The girls got to do the 'air gavel' after he said their names and went through the process," Robert explained.
Latricia added, "And then everybody cheered. And [the judge] said usually if we were in person we would hug and all that, but you can just air hug...It was very emotional."
The couple added the girls' older brother, and their grandparents were also a part of the ceremony.
They encourage other families to open their hearts and consider fostering/adopting, if they're able.