MAITLAND, Fla. – A Maitland couple on Wednesday was able to their virtually finalize the adoption of their new son via Zoom just in time for Mother’s Day weekend.
“I will love him like the precious gift that he is,” mother Asha Junot said.
Jake and Asha Junot got the call in January from Nightlight Christian Adoptions saying they’d been matched with a baby boy. The couple was not able to announce the good news until it was finalized 90 days later, worried COVID-19 closing down many courtrooms at the Orange County Courthouse would push the process back even further.
“We thought we’d have to wait to go back to the court,” Jake Junot said.
However, after their last home visit, the Junots got a court date to finalize the adoption via Zoom on Wednesday.
The couple joined in on the virtual hearing to not just see the judge, clerk of court and their attorney, but also nearly 50 friends and family members who joined in on the call from quite literally all over the world.
“The initial moment when we flipped to gallery view in Zoom and we saw how many people showed up, it was pretty exciting,” Jake Junot said.
“One of Jake’s cousins lives in the Netherlands and she joined, so the opportunity for so many people to join us and it’s people who have journeyed with us in the last six years,” Asha Junot added.
All 47 participants watched as Asha and Jake Junot were both sworn in by a Clerk of Court virtually and with a notary inside her living room. Their attorney was in another box on Zoom asking questions to both parents individually on why they wanted to adopt baby JP.
Jake Junot wrote a letter to his son.
“I have always wanted to be a dad,” Jake Junot said holding back tears. “My dad, your pa, has always been my hero. He’s the greatest man I know and the reason there is a three at the end of your name.”
Asha Junot was in tears when she explained her reasoning to the judge.
“Each month that we experienced grief and disappointment it was because it wasn’t that child yet and when we went through IVF, it became painfully clear that it was a very specific child,” Asha Junot told the judge. “I want to adopt this baby today because, it’s always been you, baby.”
The virtual hearing lasted less than 30 minutes before Judge Vincent Chiu declared the adoption official.
“So I will sign a petition and declare John be the legal child of John Pierre Junot, Jr. and Asha Beth Junot with the given the name of John Pierre Junot the III,” Chiu said before un-muting the 47 microphones as the couple’s friends cheered on.
“It was really special getting to do it like that because all those people would have not have fit in the courtroom,” Jake Junot said.
Asha Junot aimed to share her son’s story as one of hope.
"We know what it's like to feel like life will never change. We know what's it like that things are going to be this way forever," she said. "But there is another side to it and this won't be forever."
According to the couples adoption agency, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, there have been five virtual adoption finalization ceremonies through their agency across the United States. Their adoption coordinator told News 6 the Junots were the first in Florida through their agency.
To learn more about the agency, click here.