It had been three months since Matthew and Anna Jacobs had been sentenced for the physical and sexual abuse of their daughter Jennifer.
Three months since Aurora Randall had taken Jenni Jacobs into her care.
Now Aurora was appealing to the adoption agency for full rights to Jenni. It had been nearly eight months since Jenni's case had passed her desk, and she had taken it upon herself to make sure that the little girl knew that there were people out there that loved her, and in those eight months, Aurora had fallen more and more in love with Jenni, and wanted to be the one who provided a better life for her.
Normally it took an adoption agency a while to determine whether a home was safe for a child, especially one that had gone through everything that Jenni had gone through, but Aurora worked for Social Services and she was an emergency carer, most of the questionnaires and tests they run, like background tests, had been completed already, so they knew exactly what type of person Aurora was.
"Sign here, please," Megan Tritely said, pointing at a dotted line on the sheet of paper.
Aurora scribbled out her signature.
"And here," Megan added, flipping the page and pointing at another dotted line.
Again, Aurora scribbled out her signature.
"And, one more... just here."
Aurora scribbled her signature down for the finale time and then recapped her pen. She sat back and looked expectantly at Megan. "So, does this mean that she's mine now?" she asked.
"You know, normally we'd need the parents to sign their rights away," Megan said, "but given the circumstances the judge has done that for them."
"And it's a closed adoption?" Alexis asked. Aurora had asked her to be present during the signing, just so that she had a witness should anything come of it later down the line. Aurora knew that nothing would come of it, but she felt safer knowing that Alexis was there anyway.
Megan nodded, folding up the adoption papers and filing them back into her folder. "Oh, good gracious, yes," she said. "There's not a chance that we want Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs to be able to find either Aurora or Jenni, if or when they're released."
"Something tells me they won't be released for a very long time," Alexis said. "The judge was determined when he sentenced them."
Aurora nodded numbly. The trial had been hard on both herself and Jenni. She had to testify against Matthew Jacobs and give her testimony of what he had done to her in the hospital room many months ago. She could remember herself shaking from head-to-foot as she stood in the box, trying her hardest to not look at Matthew, but still feeling his steel gaze on her from across the room. It had been hard, but she had managed it.
Obviously the court had wanted Jenni to testify, but being a minor meant that they needed parental permission, but it was her parents she was testifying again. Aurora, being her emergency carer, had stated her views on not letting Jenni in the stand, but they needed Jenni's statement to seal her parents' fates. In the end it was agreed that Jenni would give her statement via a video conference, meaning she would be in a different room with Aurora, telling a video camera what her parents had done to her.
The ordeal had been very difficult and Jenni had cried all the way through. When she had finished, the little girl had buried herself in Aurora's arms and sobbed until she couldn't breathe.
But it had been what the jury needed to convict her parents.
Once the verdict of guilty had been read out loud, Aurora knew that the worst was behind her.
"What do you plan to do first, Mum?" Megan asked.
Aurora smiled at the title. She'd always envisoned herself as one day being a mother; she just never figured it would happen so soon. "I don't know," she said, shaking her head. "I want Jenni to get a fresh start. I've been waiting for this adoption to be pushed through so that I can apply for a passport for her. I think my first stop will be New Zealand."
"Ooh," Megan said, sounding intrigued.
"It'll be nice to go home for a while," Aurora said, nodding. "Jenni can meet her new family, and my parents can get accustom to the idea of being grandparents. They don't know anything about Jenni, so this will be a bit of a shock to them."
"What do you intend on telling them?" Alexis asked.
"Hopefully nothing," Aurora said. "Hopefully they'll realise how much I love her and that'll be reason enough for them."
Megan and Alexis smiled and nodded.
"Well, thank you for your time," Megan said. "I wish you and Jenni good luck for the future. If there is anything you need, don't hesitate to call."
"Thank you," Aurora said, getting to her feet and walking Megan to the door. Alexis followed, waving from over Aurora's head as Megan walked out of the apartment. Aurora closed the door behind her and turned to her best friend.
Alexis smiled and folded her arms. "How soon can you get a passport?" she asked.
"It takes up to three weeks for a passport to come back," Aurora said.
"That gives us plenty of time."
"Time?" Aurora repeated. "Time for what?"
"To let people know," Alexis said. "Seriously, Aurora, you didn't plan on leaving without saying goodbye, did you?"
"Well no, of course not," Aurora said. "But who do I need to say goodbye too? Joanna and Malcolm already know that I am leaving, and Doctor Shaw gave me the all clear to fly, who else is there?"
"Oh, I don't know, how about you're on and off lover?"
Aurora sighed. Alexis had a point. She would have to tell Philip she was leaving, even if their relationship was a little rocky, she still owed him the knowledge of knowing she wasn't going to be around anymore. Maybe he'd have the chance to find someone that he didn't have to sneak around with, someone that his father would approve of.
"I mean, the poor guy has enough on his plate as it is," Alexis said. "It wouldn't be fair on him to find out that you left from a third party. Besides, you've been together now for nearly three years, and we both know that he's madly in love with you, even if there are complications. He deserves to hear it from you."
"Alright, I'll tell him," Aurora said. "But first, I need to apply for Jenni's passport."