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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The legal part of the process

I hope you're all enjoying your weekends - we are. We're finally having a nice, quiet, low-key one at home. Seriously, just as I typed "quiet" I heard the kid start sobbing upstairs; I totally jinxed myself, didn't I? Okay, 30 minutes and the kid in bed later, let's try this again. Apparently, for those of you wondering, the sobbing was due to 2 things - him almost choking on a piece of Lego and his Poppa taking the Legos away for the night. See the lesson for more info about that...

Anyway, I thought tonight I could explain the "process" after we brought the kid home (tangent - that afternoon/evening was a chaotic mess. For future reference, before you just show up at new parents' homes, check with them to make sure they actually want you to come, espeically if it's the night they brought their kid home from the hospital. And, for God's sake, bring food and make sure the new parents actually get theirs before you decide to eat everything. Also, I don't think I ever really thanked you, Mom, for making sure I got a little to eat before the pot was empty! So, thanks!).

A couple of weeks after the kid was born, his birthparents, with the support of the agency, voluntarily terminated their parental rights. The day I knew this was to happen, I couldn't stop thinking about them. I have no idea what that day was like for them. We never talked about it; I kind of wish we had... it's probably too late now. We did visit with them at least once before they did this. It was a comfortable and wonderful visit, and the first time D., his birthfather, met him since he hadn't been able to be at the hospital when he was born. The visit, and all of our many visits save one, happened at their home at their request (it was easier for us to get out and to them, than for them to get out and to us).

Our social workers had explained that we were supposed to have a minimum of 3 home visits over a period of about 6 months after the kid was born. I think we maybe had 2? I know we didn't have all 3. Our social workers are overworked (like many social workers are) and we were all navigating the openness between our two families, so I think they felt like we were doing well.

As the end of our 6 months approached, we contacted an attorney I knew from my social services days. He filed the paperwork the day after the kid turned 6 months. We talked and had a home visit with the kid's court appointed attorney (so she could make sure it was in his best interest to be adopted by us). It took another 4 months for a court date to be set. I don't actually know why there was that lag in time. My understanding from talking with other families in similar situations is that they got court dates much quicker. It wasn't like it was a big stressor for us or anything - we knew he was part of our family and that there wasn't going to be anything that would disrupt the adoption so it was just a matter of time.

2 weeks before Christmas, we had our court date. We got there early, and then wandered around the courthouse waiting for a long time. (Another tangent - okay, can anybody else believe that smoking was allowed in the courthouse??!! I mean, seriously, in the building itself?! It's just crazy to me. It isn't allowed anymore, because that particular county has gone smoke-free, but still. It was not even 4 years ago!) Finally, we were called into the courtroom itself. My mom, BFF, and hubby's parents came and were there to witness the moment the kid became legally our son.

I really don't remember much of that moment, one, because it was so quick (we didn't even get a chance to take a pic with the judge - boo), but mostly, I think, because I just kept staring at the beautiful baby in my arms. I know we had to answer some questions (do you know this means he's your kid just like you'd given birth to him, with all the financial responsibilities, etc...) and the kid's atty gave her brief report that we were acceptable, but that's about all I remember. Isn't that funny that I would barely remember such a momentous occasion as that, though I vividly remember much of the time we spent waiting in the hallways (the smoke!, walking him up and down the floors, how calm and patient he was even though he was tired)? Idk...maybe it's because I never doubted, even for the tiniest of moments, that he was our son. I didn't need the "blessing" of some court, some random judge. We'd already been blessed by God, and that was all I really needed.

Today's lesson is that even if the box of a toy says that it's appropriate for a 4yo, that doesn't necessarily mean it is. For example, say your 4yo still puts everything in his mouth, you probably shouldn't give him Legos. Or at least, you probably shouldn't leave him unattended while he plays with them. Or, if you are in the room while he's playing with them, you should probably actually pay attention to him. Isn't that right, hubby dearest?

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