Sitting in the juvenile courtroom along with several caseworkers and family members, Heather and Brian Sams of Lincoln had plenty of support on Friday morning when they welcomed five new members into their family.
Sitting still was not an option for one 5-year-old, though; the atmosphere was just too exciting. Madison bounced in her chair, hummed into the microphone and smiled wide as she and her brothers Bryson, 7, and Riley, 8, had their adoption proceedings finalized by Judge Roger Heideman.
And the excitement continued when Judge Linda Porter affirmed the adoption of their other foster siblings, Trynai, 10, and Trystyne, 12.
When Heideman asked if they had anything they wanted to say before officially becoming part of the Sams family, Madison spoke up.
“Pink, I’m going to make my hair pink,” she said.
Heather Sams said the children were previously not allowed to make changes to their hair without first calling their caseworker for permission from their biological parents.
“Now they’re ready to do all sorts of stuff to their hair. They’re pretty excited,” she said.
The adoption proceedings are unusual in that Brian and Heather Sams managed to have proceedings for both sets of siblings on the same day, according to attorney Kathy Olson. Generally parental rights for separate sets of siblings are not established in the same time frame.
"Their cases worked out where they were both available for the finalization of the adoption," Olson said. "The stars really aligned to be able to do that all at once."
Though each of the five children have been living with the Sams family for more than a year, Brian Sams said making it official meant the world to their growing family.
“They were already part of our family, but now they’re officially our family,” he said.
And that official status was moving for Brian and Heather, who became foster parents after already having four grown children out of the house and two teenage girls still at home, who will be able to help the new members of the family feel at home.
“I’m trying to have some dignity and not cry right now,” Heather said. “But isn’t this so cool?”
She wasn't the only one who was emotional Friday morning. But when her mother pointed out she thought she saw Trystyne tearing up during the process, the 12-year-old denied any tears were shed.
“I was sniffling because my nose was stuffed up,” she said.
For Heather, the finalization comes at the end of what can be an exhausting process that demanded their full dedication.
"There's a lot of doubt and confusion that comes during the adoption process," she said. "But now everything is official and it was all worth it."