Friday, August 31, 2012

Finalization


August 29, 2012

The process started two years and four months ago and today the adoption process is over.  Although the process is over; adoption is forever part of our lives.  The application process was our conception, the waiting was our pregnancy and now we completed seven months of labor we are legally considered Mom and Dad.

I've read blogs that ask when did you start to feel like a "mom" and I've read more then once it was when they child called them "mama" for the first time.  I distinctly recall in the hospital a moment seven months ago the first full day I was alone with Baby Girl at the hospital.  I got this intense feeling of needing to protect her.  Many days in the hospital I felt like I had no control.  Doctors and nurses were making decisions, D was not being consulted, and I wasn't able to.  My child was part of a "system" that unfortunately most children go thru alone.  Although I'd never wish to relive that month in PA I know it made me feel like a mom.  Since no one was making decisions I started to advocate for what I thought was right for my daughter.  Legally they could have chosen to disregard my advocacy but I'm firm in believing that the love I gave her as well as the advocacy that I provided she came home to us sooner. Both D and J had signed their termination of parent rights paperwork prior to our arrival but since Baby Girl was still at the same hospital that D gave birth she was under D's original admission.  Many of the babies in the NICU were from different hospitals and had that been the case D would have had no rights.  Had baby girl been discharged and then the problem was identified and she was re-admitted again D would have had no rights.  It was this loop hole that meant that a woman struggling to just care for herself, who already had determined that she was not going to parent was still the legal decision maker.  It still makes me upset to think back to the legal limbo we were in.  I understand the need for a "system" as there needs to be rules; but at the same time children like mine suffer the consequences of a system that sometimes neglects these precious beings when those involved choose to stick to the rules with no regard to the situation.

This morning while we listened to our daughter babble in the crib happily DH asked me if seven months ago I thought we would arrive at this day.  I told him I did most days.  Baby Girls Birthfather at times chose to drift in and out of the picture and wavered in his decision depending on the moment.  I felt confident in D's decision and knew if she allowed us to leave PA we would be able to get to this day.

As we drove to court this morning I was nervous.  I'm not exactly sure why.  My nerves were quickly masked by panic as we realized that we went to family court as we had been instructed and the finalization was at probate court.  The woman who was trying to find our court room at family court was confused "You are here for a divorce?"  NO!  She finally figured out we were in the wrong building.  We quickly walked the six blocks with Baby Girl and myself in the lead.  We had eight people in tow as we made the five block walk (with five minutes to spare).  My rational was if Baby Girl and I made it- I'd just have to be a single mother but there was going to be nothing to stop me from getting there on time.

Lucky for us the paper work had an error which they were correcting so they were a few minutes behind.  The proceeding was fun with a total of 14 people in attendance.  The judge had music on when we arrived and sat across the table from us.  She had us sign an unofficial adoption certificate which Baby Girl signed as well and then a legal version (that Baby Girl did not sign).  We took lots of pictures with the judge and family.  We went home and had brunch.

After all our friends and family left we planted a cherry tree.  We had been planning for a few years to plant a fruit tree for our five year anniversary since that is the year you give wood as a gift.  The tree is now a shared gift- an anniversary/finalization tree, but I suspect we will call it Baby Girls Tree forever.

Its a relief to finally have the process over.  I have noticed though that I've been in hyper "fight" mode for a while.  I was on guard while we were TTC and not successful, I was on guard about adoption and our wait, I've been on guard regarding baby girls health at the start of her life.  This whole process is one that is unfamiliar to most and when someone is ignorant (willfully or otherwise) they often say things that are insensitive.  I put my guard up and disclose so little that I think my overall demeanor comes across as negative.  The process was long, it was heart wrenching, part of me wants to say I'd do it again knowing I'd get Baby Girl but the other part knows how wounding this process can be.  A friend at the brunch asked me  how it felt to have it be done.  I told her relieved but that paper work starts again if we want a sibling for baby girl.  I'd like to think that I could "just be happy" but adoption still for me is in part a reminder of our infertility and just how unfair life is.  Adoption also is a reminder of what an unfair start baby girl got- unfair that baby girl couldn't have been born healthy, and unfair that her birthparents couldn't parent.  So yes I'm relieved that this process is over but the process is not exactly like a pregnancy where you give birth and you are happy.  There are many sorrows as well.  Baby Girl lights up our lives and I can't imagine life without her and she was worth every moment of fight.  Now I have to remember to take on her joyful perspective of life.


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My plan is to write two more blog posts
1) Dear Birthparents
2) Thank you and good-bye

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eve of finalization

I've been crazy busy w work and getting baby girl ready for her first day of daycare.  This morning I dropped baby girl off for her first full day of daycare.  I cried from the coffee shop to the center but was ok once I got her out of the car.  She was really happy this morning which is her usual disposition.  I set her down and she instantly was engaged in playing w a purple phone.  I stayed a few minutes then kissed her goodbye for the day.  She could have cared less.

Part of me was sad but part of me knew she did well w the transition because we worked hard at exposing her to different people, sounds and experiences.  If she was safe and fussing in someone's arms I tried to comfort her without taking her into my own arms.  She is willing to explore on her own because she is confident that I wouldn't allow her to be unsafe.  It broke my heart but made me beam with pride.

This morning I was her Mom.  Letting go while still wanting to hold her close.  To the other teachers and parents I am her mom.  I am the one that can share her likes and dislikes.  Recommend her routine and answer care questions.

In some ways it's fitting that her first full day of daycare was the eve of her finalization.  It is confermation of what I already know.  D is the woman that gave Baby Girl life and chose ME to be her mother.  I'm part of a special group of moms that can say: I was chosen for this ultimate role and granted this title of Mom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finalization "problems"

Friday DH and I took baby girl to get a dress for her finalization. We went to a thrift store since we have no intention of spending $40 on a dress she will wear once. She is growing out of her 6 mo. clothes but the 9 mo clothes are just too big so we wanted to get a 6 mo. dress. There was one dress I LOVED but it didn't fit and then there was the dress DH liked and well; it fit. So DH won. Its cute I like it I just dont LOVE it.

 So then it was my turn to find something to wear. I went into every shop in two malls, plus the main downtown shopping strip and found nothing I liked. I was primarily shopping the end of season sales because I wanted something a little more summery so the outfits I did like didn't have all the sizes. I'm also not over excited about buying clothes because i'm 5-10lbs lighter then I normally am and I'm struggling to gain back the weight I lost in PA back (I know sob story- but it really is a problem for me right now).

 7:50 (10 minutes before I told DH I'm head home) I went into one last store which is modern/college aged was not really feeling it, really wanted to skip it but went in anyway. I first found a dress that looked like a casual bridesmaids dress but I liked the color. As the girl brought it back for me to try on she asked casually what occasion the dress was for. I stumbled over my speech because I didn't plan to tell anyone the reason I was dress shopping because I didn't feel like having "the conversation." I told her that I was adopting my baby Wednesday (the simple way to explain finalization). She got really gushy and asked if I knew the name/gender/etc. So I told her our daughter has lived with us since she was born and that she had a name. I figured she was gushy because she probably worked on commission and would say anything to get me to buy a dress.

I didn't like the dress because it was too formal, though I dont think I liked the dress because I didn't like any dresses that night. So she told me she would grab other dresses. I thought to myself "how is this bubbly college girl going to find me a dress when I dont even know what I want?" She came back with three outfits a red dress (super cute if I was 10 years younger), a steal grey dress, and a pants/shirt out fit. When she brought the pants/shirt set she told me not to buy the black pants from their store because they were $300 and with adoption being so expensive I probably didn't want to spend $300 on pants (my eyes raised to that comment but it was true). Each dress fit me perfectly which in my case people usually judge me heavier then I am so I usually turn down people getting sizes for me.

 I caved and bought the steal grey dress. It was a cop out, its simple, its classic, I can't go wrong. Its not exactly what I envisioned I'd wear but what do you wear on the day you finally are recognized as your daughters parents? As she checked me out she shared with me that she has a brother that is adopted. She told me she wished adoption was easier because its a hard process. She told me it cost too much and the process takes too long. Her maturity on the topic floored me and I appreciated her enthusiasm for my daughter joining my family. I took a risk by sharing my story and in turn I got to hear hers.

When I got home I panicked. I initially thought of not telling DH I bought a dress (I'm not sure I can return it) and keep shopping. I stayed up googling hundreds of adoption finalization pictures until I was satisfied that there are moms that have worn black dresses before so I wont be the first to take the easy road. It feels somewhat cold/professional but I'll have to dress it up with a colored belt and jewelry (and lets face it I'm kinda up tight anyway so the dress suits my personality) But really- What do you wear on the day you become a legal mother? I guess it really doesn't matter :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Live in Nanny

So my older sister just left this morning after three weeks here as our "live in nanny." It was so nice to have an extra set of hands especially when Baby Girl learned to crawl during those three weeks. Growing up like any sisterly pair we didn't always like each other. Even as adults we have had our power struggles. The dynamic really seemed to change with Baby Girl around. I was nervous about having her stay with us for three weeks but I'm so glad she was able to use her summer vacation to help us bridge the gap between when DH went back to work and daycare starting Monday. We chose my older sister and her husband as our daughters God Parents. It was nice for the two of them to get to spend quality time together. We also spent time watching the shows "I'm Having Their Baby" and "The Baby Wait." Watching those shows gave us an opportunity to talk about adoption without necessarily discussing Baby Girls story. At the start of her stay my sister would use "give up" and by the end of her stay if she said "give up" she would correct herself and say "Placed." I never specifically told her to change the way she spoke but thru our conversations I think she understood why I had a preference. It means a lot to me that she took the time to listen to me as the "expert" and molded her language based on my preferences. Unfortunately for us our family lives far away and so we dont get many opportunities to spend time having them get to know Baby Girl but I'm grateful for each opportunity they get.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

blog

So my plan from day one was to blog until finalization. Finalization is the 29th but my sister is staying with us until the 25th to watch Baby Girl before daycare starts on the 27th. I don't like blogging from my phone so I've taken a pause while she is here. We also will have family in town for the finalization and some of them are planning to stay until labor day. I have a few more topics left, then I'll close this chapter. This blog has provided me w an outlet to express my joys, frustrations and sorrows. I will miss it but I think it also will allow me to take a step away from adoption and just be mom.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crawling

My baby crawled today for the first time!  DH and my older sister were home to witness and video tape- but I was at work :(  She has come so far from that sick baby we met.  She has been strong from the start and I can only wait to see where she goes in life.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lucky Girl

Today as I pushed baby girl in her stroller and I heard a debate behind me I smiled and turned around.  I witnessed a boy wanting something that Mom wasn't giving into.  This sight was sweet but only made sweeter when I could see that this family came together by way of adoption.  I only know of the way this family was brought together because of his smooth coffee brown skin and her and her husbands porcelain skin.

We continued along listening to the debate continue when a man standing waiting to be seated at the diner smiled at us- then said "What a lucky girl."  Oh yes - I am a very lucky girl.

I beamed the rest of the way to our car.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

FINALIZATION DATE!!!!!

We have a date!!  August 29th at 9:30 AM!  (assuming DH can get off work)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Sound of Silence

I just got our third set of letters off today.  I forget what its like to print pictures!  I again in my letters requested communication back.  Yesterday I saw a post about a birthmother that was terrified that once she placed the adoptive parents she chose would close the adoption.  I never feared having no communication back- I na├»vely assumed that if a birthparent wanted communication that they would want their child to know who they were as well.  There is so much written about adoptive parents closing adoptions and I know its because adoptive parents hold a great deal of control.  The silence from the other side makes me realize how much control our birthparents have as well.  Both D and J assured me they would respond- but Baby Girl gets nothing while they get pictures of her smiling face and letters about her development.  I've read that adoptions that close are the most harmful to birthparents emotionally.

Part of me wants to give up- stop sending letters and pictures but I then remind myself that I agreed to send letters/pictures.  I know that especially D needs anything that can go in her favore and depression over the adoption closing would the the worst thing for her.  At the same time- what about Baby Girl?  As time passes and I hear nothing I will likely truncate most of the letters and maybe write a long one twice a year.  Each letter has been a paged single spaced with each word evaluated takes a lot of time and emotional effort.

The silence reminds me of a documentary that I watched a few months back (which I blank on the name of).  It was a closed adoption but the daughter was able to establish contact thru letters with her birthmother.  The birthmother wrote maybe two times, and then nothing- silence.  The depression that the daughter exhibited was heart breaking- she dropped out of school, she started to perform poorly in her sports, and she found herself pregnant.

I know that Baby Girl and I will have hard conversations.  I dont know what will be hard for her.  I'm anticipating her sadness, and rejection and want to fix it before it ever hurts her.  Each time we send another pair of letters I hope to hear back even if it was a one line note saying "Baby Girl I think about you."