From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
A new mom since January, Sandra Bullock has been proudly delighting in every milestone her 8-month-old son Louis has achieved, from rolling over for the first time to trying solid foods. But it wasn't until Aug. 13, in a juvenile court in New Orleans' Jefferson Parish, that the actress was finally able to mark a milestone she'd long been anticipating: the finalization of Louis' adoption. Surrounded by several close friends and her sister Gesine, a jubilant Bullock hit the quaint Coquette Bistro Wine Bar on Magazine Street on Aug. 15 to celebrate the news. Laughing with her friends-Bullock, who wasn't drinking, cracked at one point, "I'm the designated walker today"-the star "was very casual, very down-to-earth," says an observer. "Everyone seemed to be having a really fun time together."

For Bullock, 46, the occasion capped a celebratory summer in which she and her "little man" have bounced between her adopted hometowns of New Orleans and Austin. "She seems really happy, hanging out with Louis and feeling more grounded," says a source. But while Bullock has been throwing herself into motherhood and enjoying the occasional awards show appearance-most recently the Teen Choice Awards on Aug. 8-her ex-husband Jesse James has been moving on in his own way. On Aug. 14 the 41-year-old motorcycle CEO-whose divorce from Bullock was finalized in June-shared a weekend in Las Vegas with LA Ink star Kat Von D, 28 (see box). This seemed to signify a new attitude for a man who vowed a little more than three months ago to "be the mate Sandy deserves." A source close to James says he's beginning to come to terms with the irreparable damage wrought by his cheating scandal. "In a perfect world he wants Sandra to be back in his life how things were before this mess," says the source. "But I think he's starting to grasp reality a bit more and the realization that it's going to take a lot longer and a lot more than he thought to bring things back to what they were. I don't think he's giving up." As for James' upcoming move to Austin with his kids Sunny, 6, Jesse Jr., 13, and Chandler, 16, Bullock tells PEOPLE, "I support Jesse in his move to Austin. We have both moved on with our lives and only want the best for each other. Anything else that is said on my behalf is inaccurate."

For Bullock-who initiated the adoption process with James four years ago-picking up the pieces in the aftermath of their divorce has meant focusing on Louis and her relationships with James' kids. "The kids have a lot of contact with Sandra," says a James source. And while she continues to marvel at having little Louis in her life-"I never imagined I would say the words 'my son,'" she told PEOPLE in May-his adoption simply makes official what has long been clear to everyone who knows her: She's a natural mom. "She has unconditional love for everyone," says her Blind Side costar Quinton Aaron. "She's able to give all of that love to her kid. I'm real happy for her coming out from what she went through."

Not that beginning a new chapter means forever closing the old one. "The kids come first, and that's what his move to Austin is about," says the James source. James' new $2 million house is nearly 20 miles away from Bullock's, and he'll be busy running his Austin Speed Shop. And she also has her home in New Orleans-"a breath of fresh air for her," says a source close to Bullock-where she's planning on spending plenty of time with Louis. Says the source: "She is so in love with her child."

  • Contributors:
  • Reported by Alexis Chiu/L.A.,
  • Jen Garcia/L.A.,
  • Jessica Herndon/L.A.,
  • Elizabeth Leonard/L.A.,
  • Alicia Dennis/Austin,
  • Mark Gray/Las Vegas,
  • Mary Green/New York City.