It’s not every day that over 9,000 people celebrate a family’s new beginning, but that’s exactly what happened when Millie Holloman announced on social media that she had officially adopted her daughter, Vera Wren.
Of course, this wasn’t just any adoption announcement. Millie had asked photographers Matthew Ray and Amanda Holloman to document the adoption finalization in a special way — by snapping photos of each person who played a part in it. Each participant held up a sign bearing simple yet heartfelt messages of hope and excitement, including family members, friends, and even the judge!
Millie then shared the images on Facebook March 7, where they’ve since gone super viral. And it’s easy to see why: As Millie so eloquently expresses in her photo caption, an adoption journey truly takes a village. Each person who fights for the rights and welfare of the child makes decisions that can have an impact across a lifetime. And in Vera’s case, that means permanency with an adoring mother, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends.
“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘it takes a village’,” Millie writes. “Well it’s true! I’ve often said that when I signed up for foster care, I signed up for the heartache and pain that often come with it. But my family and friends didn’t sign those papers, just me. I just drug them all into it.”
“They’ve been through the ups and downs with me. They’ve supported me when I called crying after court hearings or given me a shoulder to cry on when I’ve had to buckle kids in their car seat and send them off with another family to love. They have fallen in love with these kids and they have prayed big prayers for us all. They have stepped up and filled in the gaps for the roles I can’t be to these kids. Today they cried great big tears and they celebrated alongside us! I’m so grateful for my friends and family, those there today and those who could not be with us but were in spirit! I would not be where I am today without my village and words can’t express how much you mean to us! Thank you for bringing Vera Wren into our tribe and loving her like your own!”
Millie’s words are loving and powerful. But by telling Vera’s story, she also highlights the need for more foster and foster-to-adopt parents — especially those willing to accept the placement of older children (over the age of 8), children of color, sibling sets and groups, and children with special needs. There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and over 100,000 are waiting to be adopted. Thankfully, Vera is no longer one of those children; because after spending 1,070 days in foster care, she finally found her happily ever after.
Millie’s idea to recognize the individuals who worked diligently on Vera’s behalf and commemorate Vera’s adoption day is quite special. When I look back over the past decade, and all of the people who made my own family of six possible, it’s an incredible story. Without the six social workers, four judges, four guardian ad litems, two attorneys, and one paralegal, I wouldn’t have my three daughters and son, either. These adoption professionals relentlessly pursue the completion of legal and ethical adoptions, always with the child’s best interest at heart.
As for this Forever Family, their beautiful story and the many photos that tell it continue to tug at the hearts of strangers all over the Internet. But to me, the most touching photo of all is the one of Vera planting a loving kiss on Millie’s cheek. Its caption is written by Millie, as a kind of love letter to Vera (whom she refers to as Wren).
“You have made my heart come alive this past year and helped me to see life through a different lens. I’m looking forward to a lifetime of snuggles and hugs with you! I’ve finally got someone that I can ALWAYS come home too! Welcome home little Wren, you belong here.”
And that is what true family is, after all — a lifetime of love and belonging.More On