Judge opens courtroom during snowstorm for boy, 3

ST. HELENS, Ore. -- Columbia County Court was closed on Tuesday because the roads were snowy and dangerous.

Court was scheduled to open at noon, which would delay whatever was on the docket that morning.

As it happens, a little boy named Riven was scheduled to appear before Judge Jenefer Grant at 9:30 am.

Riven, 3, waited almost his whole life for this moment.

It was his adoption ceremony. Judge Grant was going to sign the papers, officially making Valerie and Bob Verhoef his legal parents, no longer his foster parents.

"Tuesday morning the weather wasn't cooperating," said Valerie, who's cared for Riven since he came to her home when he was four months old.

Riven had already fought and beat enough -- Valerie says he was born a premature "drug baby."

And then there was the cancer.

He was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma after moving into the Verhoef's home in Rainier. He fought the disease for a year, including grueling chemotherapy.

A little snow and ice wouldn't stop the family.

They showed up at the social services office anyway.

An employee called another employee who finally reached Judge Jenefer Grant at home.

"They learned the court was closed, which caused them some heartache," said Judge Grant. "They've been waiting a very long time to formally adopt the little boy."

Judge Grant called her judicial assistant, scrambled to find the paperwork, and opened Court Room 351 for Riven and his family.

The ceremony took 10 minutes.

Judge Grant invited Riven to the bench to watch as she signed the papers.

"He was much more interested in his toy trucks," said Grant.

"It was a miracle," said Riven's new mom, Valerie. "Someone was able to actually come in and get this done. We weren't going to leave until it happened. We've waited a long time for him to officially be a member of our family."

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