On Friday, November 7th our county hosted it’s annual Adoption Day celebration. There were activities in the morning for all 39 children that were adopted in 2014 (and their families) and they held lunch. The activities were in the courthouse and the lunch was held in the Children and Youth office. Because it was already a sad and anxiety-producing day, we let our kids choose whether they wanted to attend the morning events. They had all of their visits at the Children and Youth office with their biological parents and they attended many hearings at the courthouse. Hubby and I wanted to limit the exposure to those areas since just driving past those locations usually means tough behavior for the rest of the day. Our adoption was scheduled at 2:00 pm so we had plenty of time in the morning to do something else fun. The kids voted unanimously to skip the activities.
Instead, we took them to the place where we held the adoption party the next day, so they could play in the play place and get lunch. Then we headed over to the courthouse with my parents and grandparents, who were the only family members that attended with us.
We met our case manager from our agency at the courthouse along with one of my friends that is a photographer. Our county case worker handed us a stack of paperwork about 12 inches high– disclosure documents that I believe we should have received prior to the adoption. Mental health records, school records, medical records, etc. Their updated child profiles were also in the stack.
When it was our turn for the adoption we went into the courtroom and gathered chairs so that all the kids could sit with us at the table. I got a little teary-eyed but was focused on settling four children so I didn’t start sobbing yet. The county attorney had given us a list of questions that would be asked so that we could be prepared. The judge was not super friendly and the kids were actually pretty scared of him. He looked at the documents and turned to our county case worker. He said “If I am looking at this correctly then these children have not resided at this home even four months? I believe the minimum the county requests is six months.” I turned to look at our agency case manager, because she had been saying that from the beginning. I panicked thinking that he wasn’t going to grant the adoption and we would have to wait. I kept worrying about how the kids would react if we weren’t granted the adoption. I was sweating and scared! There was no time for crying. Our county case worker mumbled a few things about how good we are with the kids and how we were a family from the start. The judge kind of shook his head and let the county attorney ask his questions. He asked things that were not on the list that he gave us in advance!
The county attorney asked us things like how long we were married, what we do for fun as a family, how we came to know about the children, whether we work. I was still afraid that, despite our answers, the judge was going to throw a fit about our adoption! I didn’t cry the whole time, I was too terrified!
Finally the judge made a comment to my husband about whether he realized that he would be outnumbered two to one in the house. Hubby stated that we have two male dogs as well and everyone laughed. Then it was over! The kids were adopted. We took a few pictures in the courtroom and with the judge and then left. It was literally a five minute proceeding where my heart pounded the entire time.
Some of the paralegals came over with bags for the three children we adopted. There were toys, books and giftcards inside. While it was a nice gesture, it was hard with one child who was not being adopted and who didn’t get a bag! I wished we had known in advance so that we were prepared for her meltdown.
Afterwards we took some pictures and then whisked the kids off to Toysrus. We gave them each a $20 bill and let them get whatever they wanted!
It really wasn’t as sad as I thought considering that we were scared that the adoption wasn’t going through. The kids were much better the next day once they realized that nothing had changed from day to day. The anxiety was gone and everything returned to “normal.” So it was much sadder going into the day, as I thought. Luckily the kids are all in counseling and we’ve been able to talk about their feelings in a safe way!