"I would like this woman right here to be my mom..."
Alivia Martin walked into a room full of news cameras, flowers and candy. There were unicorns and balloons. This was her moment.
Over four years ago, Alivia's mother and older sister were victims of a homicide. Since that day, she has been in the arms of her grandmother, Corinna Martin, her biggest support and advocate.
Adoption day was Alivia's day. A time to celebrate the strength and love between a grandmother and her granddaughter. With matching outfits, Alivia and Ms. Martin hugged and laughed, held each other's hands and anxiously awaited the adoption proceedings to begin.
It was an incredible journey that brought this family to finally get to sit in the New Have Office "adoption room."
"It's been extremely hard. Alivia and I have talked about how I'm not replacing my daughter. I'm not trying to become a new mom for her. I am just continuing on the parenting and having this honor and humbly accepting this privilege to be able to be a parent and be recognized legally as her parent," stated Ms. Martin.
Describing the resilience of Ms. Martin is almost impossible. She has actually lost two daughters - both to domestic violence homicides. She has turned these tragedies into developing her own non-profit entitled, "Mothers of Victim's Equality Inc…" with the goal to ensure that victims not only have equal rights but also a voice.
Ms. Martin has given Alivia her voice. At seven years old, she shows poise and insight far greater than her chronological age. Alivia is resilient, in large part because her biggest advocate sits right by her side.
"She is the one directing me," Ms. Martin joked.
"She's the piece. She's the last piece in the puzzle," Alivia stated while referring to her grandmother.
Alivia moved effortlessly around the room. At one point, she took the microphone from a reporter and greeted the room full of adults. "Thank you for coming everyone," she stated. That room included Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes and Alivia's trusted Social Worker Tomi Handy.
Ms. Handy has worked with the family for almost four years. "She's the epitome of strength and resilience, patience and love," Ms. Handy stated as she referred to Ms. Martin.
Ms. Handy refers to Alivia as "Liv" which to her means "life." How did this relationship develop? How did Ms. Handy assist in bringing Alivia through the traumas she experienced? "Do the simple things that join you and the family," Ms. Handy stated as she easily recounted the long drives she and Alivia took, days running around at the park, going out to eat and of course, singing Beyoncé songs!
Ms. Handy made Alivia a stained-glass picture of a unicorn. "I want her to remember the good times we had," she stated.
"Ms. Martin you have made Alivia a better person. Alivia you have made your grandma a better caretaker but you both have made me a better social worker," Ms. Handy stated.
When asked if she wanted to speak prior to the adoption being finalized, Ms. Martin acknowledged the media. "It is truly mindboggling and overwhelming sense of joy and appreciation to know that you guys really really wanted to do this and share this with us."
She then thanked all of those who supported her and Alivia. "Without you, without this village, this moment right here could have been completely different, and I just thank Jehovah God for this opportunity to be able to share it with all of you," she stated.
Ms. Martin appeared countless times in court to advocate for Alivia. She had one special message for the Superior Court Judge. "I thank you for always, every time that I have appeared before you, that you have treated me with the utmost respect within the confines of your duty as a Judge," Ms. Martin humbly stated.
"It is times like this where it makes all of those tragedies just a little bit more bearable," she added.
It was then time for Alivia to speak and once again, the uniqueness of this special little girl was apparent to all.
"I would like this woman right here to be my mom because she is the most prettiest …. She's the smartest and kindest and the woman that I know could be the right mom for me…. it's her."
The adoption was finalized, or as Ms. Martin stated, "We legal now."