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Rhonda Stanley finalized two adoptions on Saturday, November 17 – of her granddaughter Da’Ja and grandson Da’Quan. Children’s Law Center’s Covington & Burling loaned associate Maureen Japha has worked with Ms. Stanley on Da’Ja’s adoption case.
“It has really been a learning experience,” Ms. Stanley admitted. Before starting the process, “I never knew all that was involved in adopting,” she said. Moving through two adoptions concurrently – 5-year-old Da’Ja from foster care and 3-year-old Da’Quan through private adoption to avoid him entering foster care – has definitely meant more specific requirements to address. But even though Da’Ja and Da’Quan have been living with her for years, adopting them officially has been important to Ms. Stanley to make sure the children have a stable, permanent, loving family. “Da’Ja had asked me, ‘Why doesn’t my mom come and see us, is she mad with us?’” Ms Stanley explained. “I had no explanation to give her … that was what made me do it.”
|Da’Ja at the podium with Adoption Day emcee Barabara Harrison, as seen on a TV screen at the event. At right is guest speaker Reese Hoffa.|
The siblings are together now in a multigenerational loving home headed by their grandmother – Ms. Stanley – and including her grandmother as well. “She’s glad to have them,” Ms. Stanley said, and makes a point to fix the children’s breakfast most days.
Da’Ja is very comfortable in her role as big sister to Da’Quan. “Everything she does at school, she shows him,” Ms. Stanley said. Both children attend Bridges Public Charter School. Da’Ja is particularly interested in science, and is very curious as to how things work. Recently, after watching her great uncle use a screwdriver, Da’Ja took apart a digital clock, looking for the red crayon inside that made the numbers glow red.
For all her curiosity, however, Da’Ja is not concerned about understanding Adoption Day. Ms. Stanley said she got a library book on adoption and read it with the children, and tried to explain the significance of Adoption Day. “Da’ja said, ‘Well Grandma, we already live here,’” and didn’t need any other details. Mostly, Da’ja wanted to know who would be there. At Adoption Day, she explained, Da’Ja would see her social worker and the lawyers who had worked on the case. But Ms. Stanley will always be there for Da’Ja and Da’Quan.
“I love you. You are the best lawyer a kid can have. I want you to be my lawyer and friend forever.”
10 years old