The far-reaching impact of the coronavirus is forcing many changes in American life, including court proceedings where foster children are adopted. For one Arkansas couple, that means adopting their child over Zoom instead of an in-person court hearing.
Kimberly Wieneke and her husband served as foster parents to two-year-old Jaden since last May. The couple found out in February that he would be put up for adoption.
“In my heart, I already knew I wanted him,” Wieneke, who lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, told KNWA. “We knew the day they terminated [the parental rights] that we would be adopting April 16.”
The couple knew that day would be special and started making plans — that is until the coronavirus altered those plans. Because of the coronavirus, the in-person adoption court date could no longer be held on April 16.
The pandemic altered how certain court hearings are conducted all across the U.S. Many court hearings are being shifted online, at least temporarily, throughout the duration of the pandemic.
“We see all the pictures after the adoption day — they’re standing there with the judge, everyone is smiling,” Wieneke said. “We didn’t get that.”
Jaden’s adoption hearing took place via Zoom call instead. But Wieneke said the adoption was still special in her mind.
“Sometimes it feels like not real, I mean we sit and look at him, and we’re like, ‘He’s ours.'” Wieneke told KNWA. “But it’s like we didn’t get that experience.”