#AdoptionTalk: Our Adoption Story – The Sequel
Sooo… as promised, here is the long-awaited Rest. of the Story.
I’m going to rewind a little and give you some of the back-story, in case you’re a newer reader, or just don’t remember everything you’ve ever, ever read.
So, basically, I’ve wanted to be a foster parent since I was 8 years old (if you’d like, you can read about why here).
Also, even aside from that, I’m adopted, so I always felt like I would want to check into adoption someday.
Strangely enough, these two pieces of information didn’t manage to intertwine in my head and heart until I discovered that I’m infertile and that SuperDad and I have essentially *zero* chance of conceiving without advanced assisted-reproductive technology.
At any rate, we ended up with with a matched set. And two weeks ago I promised you the second half of our adoption story.
Well, get comfy. Because when I say second half, it’s only in the sense that Squirm is the second half of the set. The road to his adoption was very bumpy and definitely more than half of the journey.
Squirm didn’t initially come to us when he was initially placed in foster care.
Without delving too much into anyone’s privacy, I will tell you that Squirm is not the first child on either side of his birth family to be sheltered in foster care and ultimately adopted. And I will say that when he was sheltered, the expectation was that his case would progress rapidly to adoption (but, foster care). For permanency planning purposes, it was important that he be placed in a home that was willing to adopt if the case came to that.
Unfortunately (or maybe not, at the end of the day), 5-week-old Squirm was placed with a brand new foster mom who really only wanted to adopt, who didn’t understand how the system works, or what a foster parent’s role is, or the importance of supporting the case plan. Ultimately, her failure to support the case plan was substantial enough that the decision was made to remove Squirm from her care.
SuperDad picked him up at the CPC office on January 31, 2013, and sent me this picture after they got home. This was the first time I laid eyes on him. He had significant motor delays, but they resolved quickly once he learned that he wouldn’t be held all the time…
Over the next couple of months, the previous foster mom (PFM) showed up for a couple of hearings she wasn’t invited to, filed letters with the court, including a motion to intervene in the case. She also wrote a letter to the Governor, accusing CPC, Case Management, and even the Judge (I think) of conspiring against her and inappropriately disrupting Squirm’s placement with her.
A DCF investigative team was sent down to review the case and evaluate whether anything nefarious had occurred. The investigative team reviewed everything related to the case, including a statement from me about Squirm’s delays and his progress in our care. It was determined that the change of placement was appropriate
Ultimately, the judge denied all her motions, informed her that she wouldn’t be allowed to speak in court and that he wouldn’t read her letters, but everyone suspected it wouldn’t be the last we heard from PFM.
Fast-forward almost a year, and the same week that the TPR appeal period passed and Squirm was freed for adoption, we learned that PFM was planning to file an application to adopt him.
No biggie; we had pretty much expected that and already knew that the next step would be a Selection Staffing conducted by an Adoption Selection Committee. The Committee met and selected SuperDad and I to be Squirm’s adoptive parents. We were told that PFM had 30 days to appeal the decision, but it wasn’t until Day 28 that we learned she had filed an appeal – AND an adoption petition (which she had no standing to even file)!!!!! Oh, and we were told that because we weren’t a party to the appeal – it was just between CPC and PFM – we wouldn’t be allowed to attend the appeal hearing or get updates on the process until after the appeal hearing.
That didn’t sound like a very good plan, so SuperDad and I retained an attorney (I’ll call her Hummingbird) who got us party status to all the different petitions and appeals and what-not, which meant that, among other things, we COULD attend the appeal hearing. Because Hummingbird has a great relationship with all of the attorneys involved, she was also able to keep us apprised of the different motions and maneuverings – things that we would not have been privy to without her.
It took forever (at least it seemed) to get the appeal hearing scheduled. And then it was continued for 2 months – to August 6, 2014.
On August 5th, Hummingbird called SuperDad and told him that it looked like PFM was dropping out – withdrawing her appeal AND her adoption petition. We weren’t entirely certain that it wasn’t a trick, so she still wanted us to take the day off on the 6th in case we needed to go to court after all – and she herself was going to be at the courthouse in the morning just to make sure the appeal actually was dropped.
We got up that next morning, took the boys to school, and tried to figure out what to do all day to avoid staring at the phone, waiting for it to ring. We went to lunch… we wandered around the house… Finally Hummingbird called to tell us that the appeal had definitely been dropped, that she had spoken with PFM’s attorney and they were definitely withdrawing the adoption petition – and that we could finalize the adoption as soon as CPC finished all the final paperwork!!!!
Our Adoption Specialist rushed the paperwork – like crazy rushed the paperwork – and we finalized Squirm’s adoption on August 22, 2014.
I remember Squirm’s finalization, and the days leading up to it, as being so different from Squish’s. With Squish, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and another delay to materialize. And I kept saying that I wouldn’t believe anything until the judge’s signature was dry on the adoption decree (because, foster care).
With Squirm, though, the whole thing was surreal. Less than 3 weeks earlier, we were loaded for bear, the hatches were battened, and we were braced for a long, drawn-out legal battle. And now it was over, and he was ours. For several nights before Forever Day, I had a recurring dream that PFM showed up at the courthouse and wanted to see Squirm and observe the Adoption Ceremony. In the dream, all my wonderful friends and family closed ranks and were prepared to go toe-to-toe with her. Until I, serene and gracious (ha!) stepped in and said she was welcome to stay.
She didn’t come. But my friends and family did. And it was a wonderful day.
The days following the boys’ Forever Days were very different, too. SuperDad and I have talked about how with Squish, it was like getting married to someone you’ve been living with for a while. After the marriage ceremony, nothing has really changed, but everything is different.
With Squirm, I think we were both just in shock – that it was really over and he was really ours forever. I remember that for at least a week afterwords, I would randomly get a mild case of giggles when I remembered that no-one could ever take him away from me…
Oh, and if you need an AMAZING photographer for your Forever Day, give Jamie Lee Creativity a call, and tell her Jamie sent you. 😉