January 27, 2009

Our Adoption Story: Part 8

(A photo of the whole family at the courthouse.)

Ok… I finally have a few moments and thought I would write about yesterday. But to really explain it you have to have a little background info. So here goes (I know it is long, but I promise it’s good)…

In the great state of Utah, a birthmom can sign away her parental rights as early as 24 hours after delivery. This varies some from state to state. In Missouri (where we also spent some time living), the birthmom had to wait 5-7 days. As soon as the birth mom signs over her rights, there is no going back. I can only think of two reasons when this wouldn’t be the truth and they are as follows:

1-You are seriously one of the unfortunate ones who have a bizarre adoption situation where the birth parents would still have rights for some unknown reason. (I’m not saying it can’t or doesn’t happen, only that it is VERY uncommon.)

OR

2-You have adopted a baby that is part Native American. In this case, if the Tribe find outs and claims “Tribal Law” (which usurps Federal US law) they can, in fact, take the baby away from you and raise it (I won’t even offer an opinion on this one).

So our birthmom signed off her rights after 30 hours. To be technical, birthmom’s actually sign over their rights over to the agency (in our case Heart to Heart) who then makes us “co-guardians” yet custodians of the child. Make sense? Why you ask?

In Utah (and I would assume this is similar in all states), there is a law that requires that the adoptive child be in the home for six months before finalizing/legalizing the adoption. During this time period, there are three in-home visits by a social worker/counselor who verifies that the baby is thriving, the family is bonding, no abuse is taking place, and that the baby is being seen by a doctor, etc.

After six months, you can legalize/finalize the adoption. This means going to court and in front of a judge declare your intention to adopt the child. You need to have an attorney, the above-mentioned social worker will also be there, and you of course have to be sworn in. This hearing is also when you can change the child’s name officially and legally to your last name, or if you have chosen a different given name than the birth mom put on the birth certificate (remember… often she legally names the baby before signing over her rights). I have to be honest as it was my first time in court… it felt a little like being on “Judge Judy” or something, without the drama! LOL

So yesterday was our BIG day. It was the day that we got to take the little dude to court and legally make him ours forever! It was so awesome! We are good parents and have a good home, but to finally know that nobody could be looking for reasons to possibly take him away… it just feels great!

So let me tell you how it went:

We all arrived very early in the morning, they swear us in, the case worker testifies that we are good people and that the little guy is loved, etc. Then the attorney proceeds to question my hubby in front of the Judge. It goes something like this:

Counsel: Do you want to adopt the child?
Hubby: Absolutely

Counsel: Do you realize the child will be just like your other biological children?
Hubby: Yes

Counsel: Do you realize that the child will inherit?
Hubby: Of course

Counsel: Do you realize you can’t give him back? Even when he is 16 and wrecks the car?
Hubby: Yes (laughs)

Counsel: Do you realize if you were to divorce Mindy you would still be responsible to take care of the child?
Hubby: Yes

Counsel: Describe your relationship with the child.
Hubby: Very significant (smiles)

And so on….BUT then comes THE QUESTION:

Counsel: Why do you want to adopt this child?
Hubby: (Normally pretty tough… starts to tear up and gets emotional) “Because I love him”.

So you can all imagine that if I was doing well before this, now I am a complete mess… I’m getting teary, blinking a lot, trying to bite my lip, praying my nose doesn’t run all over my face, scoping for tissues, etc… anything to keep from losing it completely. Because now it’s my turn for questions…

I get a lot of the same questions from the counsel. But then comes THE QUESTION again.

Counsel: Why do you want to adopt this child?

Now in my defense, I think at this point I was so befuddled I wasn’t thinking right. I was so worried about losing it that I didn’t give the answer I wanted. All I said was…

Me: Because we love him.

Which is ok I guess. But really—come on–I could have done SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT! I mean, I didn’t even use the singular possessive form and say, “I love him”. I said, “We love him”. And it was kind of a cop-out anyway since my hubby had just said the same thing. I had so many things in my heart at that moment and all I could think to say is that? SO LAME!!!

So I am here to declare, in my very public blog, to all my readers what I should have said! Because this, this, THIS is what I was thinking and feeling at that moment.

Why do I want to adopt him? Why wouldn’t I want to adopt him? He is perfection. Even before I knew him I loved the very thought of him. I wanted him, I prayed for him, I hoped for him. And THEN, I met him. I watched him gain life. I cut the cord that attached him to his birth mother. Almost like a physical representation of what was to come… one mother taking the child from another mother. And yet not–because in that moment we were one. We both wanted him, we both love him, and we both wish for him to have the best life possible. And I realized that this child was so special he got TWO moms that loved him. And in that moment my feelings for him grew even stronger.

And now I watch him grow. I feed him. I take care of him. When he cries, I respond. I know his smells, his voice, his wants, his needs. And he rewards me every day. He rewards me with giant slobbery kisses, his big browns (eyes) staring at me memorizing my face, with his hand reaching up to touch my cheek. He is the complete and perfect sum of everything I couldn’t give him genetically. From his delicious chocolaty skin, his arched eyebrows, he very kissable full lips, to his giant big brown eyes. He is perfection.

And so when you ask me why I want to adopt him I respond with, how could I not? He is part of me. A little person that has somehow managed to leave me completely enamored with him. I could no more give him up then go without air at this point. I would protect him with my life.

Sure, I’m human. Sometimes there are long, exhausting days full of poopy diapers, tears, bottles, and sleepless nights. But then in quiet moments I look at him and wonder how I lived without him. I wonder what kind of husband and father he will be. I look at him and wonder what my grandchildren will look like. And in those moments I know–he is already mine. In the grand scheme of life—I wouldn’t change a thing. He is my son, my heart, my future.”

So the very short answer to this question is, I love him. But that doesn’t really say it all does it?

To read more, click Our Adoption Story: Part 9