After his adoption, 6-year-old Rylen David Hash grinned at the camera in Bartholomew Circuit Court holding a sign that said, “We did not give you life, life gave us to you.”
The St. Peter’s Lutheran School student was one of five youngsters who were adopted by forever families during Wednesday’s National Adoption Day event in Bartholomew County, observed annually on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at the Bartholomew County Courthouse in downtown Columbus.
Jonathan and Jenni Hash, Bartholomew County residents, were Rylen’s foster parents for two and a half years before beginning the formal adoption process, which was completed Wednesday.
Jonathan Hash, a Cummins mechanical engineering technician, and Jenni Hash, who owns Home Marketing Specialty Realty in Columbus, became first-time parents with Rylen’s adoption and are preparing to adopt two young girls in the upcoming months.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Jonathan Hash said as he waited to go into the courtroom to finalize the adoption before Magistrate Heather Mollo. “There were many, many times we thought this day would never come,” he said.
Mollo told the couple that it was her honor to preside over Rylen’s adoption, on a day she described as “by far, the happiest day in the courthouse every year.”
National Adoption Day is celebrated on different days throughout the month throughout the state. It is the only day that the Indiana Supreme Court allows families and the media to bring cameras into courtrooms to record the proceedings and the celebrations for uncontested adoptions.
Among the 32 judges participating in National Adoption Day in Indiana this year, about 220 children were adopted into new forever families this month.
Rylen was a bit shy during the adoption proceedings, but his parents said he loves the movie “Cars” and character Lightning McQueen, and anything automotive.
“He seems to be a big Colts fan, although this year I don’t know why,” his father joked.
Rylen had insisted on wearing a purple tie to his hearing, Jenni Hash said, and the new parents smiled when told that purple is the official color for adoption efforts in the state.
During his adoption, Mollo read a poem titled “You Are A Chosen Child,” reminding Rylen that he was a precious chosen child on this day.
“We have had a number of days to have to be in court for this,” Jonathan Hash said as he looked over the adoption decree for Rylen with his wife. “I don’t remember them being this happy.”
Later on Wednesday afternoon, a Columbus couple who have provided foster care for an extended family member from birth made his status official as their son.
Breyten Clidinst, 2, was given the middle names of Cooper and Charles as part of his new name and gleefully played with a purple balloon from Mollo as the adoption paperwork was signed.
Breyten was adopted by Rob and Julie Clidinst, and joins siblings Gaige, 21, who is heading off to the U.S. Air Force in a few weeks, and 16-year-old Lexi, who attends Columbus East High School.
“We just got lucky and brought him home from the hospital,” Julie Clidinst said of how long Breyten has been with the family. Born in Indianapolis, Breyten was Julie Clidinst’s great-nephew.
Life has been different in the Clidinst house with the arrival of Breyten, who his mother says “brought a little light into our family” as the couple had been preparing to become empty-nesters.
“God had a plan, and I knew He would provide whatever we needed,” Julie Clidinst said. “It’s been so long since we had a little one at home,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s that he’s just super fast or we’re getting older.”
“I’m getting ready to start coaching baseball again,” Rob Clidinst said of revisiting a role he had with his two older children.
Rob, who works for Case Construction, and Julie, who works in human resources at Columbus Regional Hospital, described the newest addition to their family as “all 2-year-old,” and “all boy.”
Breyten loves Mickey Mouse videos and anything involving water and is already taking after his dad by having a fascination with large construction equipment.
During the hearing, the family told Mollo that Breyten has been working to overcome some health issues since his birth that are being resolved, some caused by the circumstances of his birth.
Renee Wilson, the Decatur County case manager who worked with the Clidinst family through the adoption process, remarked to Mollo her impressions of the adoption.
“It’s awesome to see a courtroom full of people who love Breyten,” she said.
After the adoption was pronounced official, Rob Clidinst leaned over his son and said, “It’s official, can you say thank you?” as the extended family burst into a round of applause.
“The children who come to us from the Department of Child Services are our most vulnerable citizens,” Mollo told the couple. “I know you consider him a gift to your family, but the justice system considers you a gift.”
Information about the Indiana Adoption Program is on the Department of Child Services adoption web page at adoptachild.in.gov or by calling 888-25ADOPT.
For more information about adopting a child from the foster care system, visit nacac.org, the website for the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.