Friday, August 16, 2013

Emotions of an Open Adoption

I am dealing with a slew of emotions at the moment. Excitement is pulsating through me as I await Junior's adoption finalization, day by day. We have seven days left of this phase of our journey then we begin the rest of our lives. At the same time I acknowledge the bitter sweetness experienced by Junior's biological mother as Mike and I become Junior's legal parents. She is supportive of the adoption and our roles as parents, but there is still that sense of loss for her, the might have been that will never be. She will always be his biological mother, but now I am Mom. Her pain might be similar to the emptiness I have experienced the last few years, touched with a twinge of jealousy as she watches another woman raise her son. She decided to trust us to raise her son when she made her decision to relinquish her parental rights. Relinquishing also gave her the opportunity for an open adoption. 

Our adoption is a rather open adoption which is a rarity in a foster care adoption. Typically there is some contact between the foster-adopt family and the biological family, but letters are exchanged through secured PO boxes or emails and visits are once or twice a year. We have an agreement for one exchange of photos a year and four visits, but we expect more contact than that. Even though the adoption has not been finalized, we have maintained contact with his biological mother including some supervised visits. We have open contact with his sister, grandmother, aunts and cousins. It has been beneficial for Junior for us to integrate his biological family into our family - sharing holidays together, spending time together, building memories. He is so excited to have my sisters and parents meet more of his relatives later this month to celebrate his adoption. 

With our great joy of adoption, I am supporting my best friend through in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. She and her husband have tried for several years now to conceive and this is their first IVF cycle. I have supported her every step of the way - the joy, the disappointment, and the anxiety that comes with each test, each procedure, each step of this very scientific method of creating a baby, hopefully. Now we wait for a positive pregnancy test. We are praying for joyful news when the time comes, but I will be her support should this cycle fail and her dreams are dashed once again. Due to her treatment cycle and doctor appointments and our schedules, she has not met Junior in the year he has been with us. Yes, I want my best friend to meet my son, one of the joys of my life, my sunshine. If the IVF cycle fails, I will hesitate and confirm with her she is ready to meet my sunshine while she mourns her loss as encountering my joy during her sorrow may be too much to deal with, especially since she has a surge of hormones racing through her worn out body magnifying each emotion; I pray this will not be the case. I want her to meet my son in her full joy, knowing she has a little one on the way so we can enjoy motherhood together.

Joy, loss, excitement, sorrow - all swirling around to create our mosaic - Open Adoption. It is one of those many lessons that adoption teaches families, emotions are messy, there are no right or wrong emotions to feel when adopting.

Our adoption process:
  • July 2010 - first call to DSHS about becoming foster-adopt parents
  • October 2010 - began foster care classes
  • December 2010 - finished foster care classes and began paperwork
  • January 2011 - began fingerprints and background check process
  • February 2011 - had fingerprints redone
  • March 2011 - fingerprints lost in system then finally found, completed paperwork
  • April 2011 - background checks completed/passed and foster licensor retires
  • May 2011 - a different licensor re-assigned; first home study review with licensor
  • June 2011 - second interview with licensor
  • July 2011 - counselor talks with licensor, home study on hold while licensor is on vacation
  • September 2011 - licensed foster parents; and begin adoption home study
  • December 2011 - adoption home study approved!
  • January 2012 - try registering with adoption websites, begin struggle with state
  • February 2012 - forced by state to transfer case to private agency in order to adopt; our regional DCFS office will not place foster children in our home or work with us because we want to adopt
  • March 2012 - begin adoption home study process all over again with Bethany Christian Services
  • May 2012 - begin home study interviews and inspection
  • June 2012 - fingerprinted twice, complete home study interviews
  • July 2012 - adoption home study complete and foster license transferred to private agency
  • August 2012 - we learn about Junior in another region of the state, plan is adoption
  • August 18, 2012 - first foster placement - Junior moves in
  • November 2012 - state changes plan from adoption to concurrent adoption and reunification
  • March 2013 - biological mother agrees to relinquish her parental rights
  • April 2013 - biological father's parental rights terminated; biological mother's relinquishment signed
  • May 2013 - biological mother's relinquishment filed with court and rights terminated; Open Adoption Agreement between us and biological mother filed with court; post-placement report sent to adoption lawyer and DCFS
  • June 2013 - Junior becomes legally free; adoption paperwork processed
  • July 2013 - we sign adoption papers and court date assigned for finalization
  • August 2013 - state signs adoption papers and sends them to our lawyer
  • August 23, 2013 - adoption finalized!!!!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

17 Days and Counting

We are down to the last 17 days until Junior legally becomes our son. All the paperwork has been signed by us, the state and the lawyer and submitted to the judge. We have to show up to court on August 23 to state we will raise Junior to adulthood and treat him as a part of the family then Judge Spanner will sign our adoption papers. Then we get to celebrate many times over for a week!

Junior is excited about accepting our last name as his. He is beginning to lay claim to us after a year. The past two weeks we have been painting and redecorating his bedroom, making it reflect his personality and helping him feel he has a permanent place in our home. His room currently has two green walls, the other two walls will become gold and the curtains, shelves and rug are black. The comforter and dresser accents are red. It dawned on me while purchasing the curtains that the green, gold and black are the colors of the Jamaican flag, the country of origin where we began our adoption journey. While we did not complete our Jamaican journey, God led us down the foster-adopt path which I was trying to avoid with all my might, but I finally handed our journey to Him. It has been a roller coaster ride for three years and a great lesson in patience. I was needing to learn patience so the Lord made sure I got a 3-year lesson.

Our journey has, also, been a lesson in acceptance. I have had to learn to accept Junior's biological family and the contact we have established for Junior's sake. Our family has grown to include his biological family, not just his biological parents, but his sister, his grandmother, his aunts, his cousins, and other extended family plus family friends that have been integral in his life.

The Lord has truly blessed us by bringing our families together last August. In 17 days, we will legally be a family through an amazing 13 year old. A 13 year old who leaves his socks all over the place; who has to be reminded to do his chore list; who cannot remember to do homework from the time he leaves school to the time he arrives home 30 minutes later; who wears clean, wrinkled clothes out of the clean laundry basket instead of putting his clothes away. A 13 year old who does not wear a coat when it is freezing out; who goes barefoot just about everywhere year round. A 13 year old who is helpful, caring and fun loving. We were matched with our God-chosen child after many, many prayers.