MUSCATINE, Iowa—As Lynn and Mike Sterner prepared to adopt their first child, Jaxen they looked forward to holding a big celebration. They planned to send out professionally taken photo invitations to family and friends and to fill the Muscatine County Courthouse with well-wishers. Jaxen himself looked forward to using the judge’s gavel to make the adoption official.
When the Iowa Judicial Branch closed all courts to the public and moved to phone and video adoption because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Sterners felt disappointed but determined to find ways to celebrate Jaxen’s adoption day anyway. They arranged to have their photos taken in Weed Park as planned, but with the photographer at a distance. Instead of sending out invitations, the Sterners posted requests on social media for people to send cards and photos to Jaxen for him to open after they officialized the adoption.