Eight-year-old Summer Moll had a little speech ready. She was going to tell the judge she has two mothers now — her mother who is in heaven, and her grandmother who helped her fight through horrific injuries and who will take care of her the rest of her life.
But on Monday it all happened so fast. The judge asked, "Are you ready?" Summer called out "Yes!" And just like that, she was formally adopted by her grandmother, Tammy Rosian, 50.
Summer, who came to court in a pink polka dot dress, a pink scarf and white sandals — with butterflies painted on her toenails — never needed that speech.
She is officially the adoptive daughter of her grandmother, and one more milestone in her hard, eventful life is behind her.
Four years ago, there was a chance of no milestones.
On Sept. 10, 2008, she and her mother, Jennifer O'Boyle, were struck by another car going the wrong way at 80 mph on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The other driver was drunk.
Summer's mother was killed. Summer suffered fractures in her arms, legs, pelvis, eye socket and skull.
The other driver, Cheryl Maria Riemann, 29, is serving a 15-year prison sentence. She has begged the family for forgiveness.
Summer has no memory of the crash. She's in kindergarten-first grade at the Lighthouse Center for Creative Learning in Brandon, still struggling with residual head trauma. She can walk and run, but had recent surgery on her scalp and will have more later in the year.
It has been a long haul for her Brandon grandparents as well. Tammy and Art Rosian have been hurt by the lousy economy, unable to find customers for a flooring business. They're both hunting for jobs. Fundraisers for Summer have dwindled over the past four years.
But Monday was all about their new start.
Before the ceremony in Hillsborough Circuit Judge Catherine Catlin's courtroom, the grandmother said she felt as nervous as she did on her wedding day.
Later, she said she had peace of mind "knowing Summer will always be taken care of." Tammy Rosian and Summer's father, Joshua Moll, reached an agreement that allowed for the adoption.
Publix donated a party cake. Even the judge lost her judicial cool. She allowed a cheer in court, and she popped out a gift for Summer she had hidden behind her bench — a giant teddy bear.
Then Summer and her family went out for pizza.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.