Holy Cow, it’s been over 6 months since we last posted (sorry about that!) and a whole lot has happened with our family. First off, as we said we would in our last post, we finalized the adoption. We also had the kids’ first post adoption visit, birthdays and a slew of other exciting adventures and a few bumps in the road (e.g. ‘big emotions,’ tantrums, tears and the like) for good measure too.
Well, you’ve probably been waiting with great anticipation to hear about the adoption finalization… It was a grey and rainy day, but we all put on our brand new – bought just for this court appearance – matching outfits and headed to the courthouse. Per usual with us, we were almost late, but we made it on time and we were greeted by the kids’ attorney at the security check point. She was able to tell us where to go and who we needed to talk to, which we were very grateful for since the court house is a pretty big place and we had no idea where we were going. She also told us that she had already ushered in some of our family.
We were very fortunate to have a nice big crowd for the occasion supporting us and our whole family – Marcy’s parents, Meg’s parents, Marcy’s sister, Meg’s sister-in-law and niece, Meg’s aunt and uncle, Meg’s best friend and her husband and son, our adoption worker, our family resource worker and the kids’ attorney. We also met the DCF attorney for the first time, who didn’t necessarily need to be there but was kind enough to make an appearance and introduce herself.
Before we all packed into the small family courtroom there was still paperwork to be done, so we headed back downstairs to see the clerk (the kids stayed upstairs with our families and were showered with attention). There we went over all the details on the kids’ new birth certificates which would include us as their parents and feature their new legal names – they would now share our last name (since the last name comes from Marcy’s family, the new middle names both were drawn from Marguerite’s family). The clerk also assured us that if the kids got a little rowdy in the court it was OK; the court proceedings would be very casual.
When the judge was ready and the courtroom was ours, the bailiff showed us all in. The four of us sat at a table normally intended for attorneys and waited for the judge. A few minutes later the bailiff asked us all to rise and announced the judge; in she walked, a blonde slender woman probably in her early 40s wearing the iconic black judge’s robe. She was very pleasant. She read over some legalese about the adoption which only took a few minutes then she asked Sport and Sunshine who was sitting with them at the table –Mommy and Mama.
One of the more endearing parts of the very short process was when the Judge asked Sport and Sunshine if they agreed to adopt Mommy and Mama. They agreed (well mostly Sport as Sunshine was too young) and then were invited up to the Judge’s bench to sit in her giant chair and ‘sign’ a certificate that stated they were adopting Mommy and Mama.
The certificates were adorable. They were the perfect amount of official and playful; they were covered with little celebratory balloons and confetti, referred to Marguerite and Marcy as Mommy and Mama and yet still included some official sounding language and it was embossed with the official seal.
Sport and Sunshine couldn’t truly sign the documents but they scribbled a bit and then we took lots of photos standing at the bench under that state seal on the wall. We were official. And we spent more time in the court house taking photos and chatting than during the adoption proceeds. While the finalization hearing may have been short, it was incredibly important to us as a family.
Sunshine really had no idea what transpired that day, we’re surely the only parents she knows since she came to live with us at three and a half months. However, Sport understood a bit more. He knew it was an exciting day. He knew that he was getting special clothes, balloons and books. He knew all eyes were on him. He also knew that he would be taking Mommy and Mama’s last name, just like Mommy took Mama’s last name when we got married and became a family. And he loved all of it.
However, when we climbed in the car and headed off on our 30 minute ride back home for a celebratory lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant (after all it was Cinco de Mayo), it became clear he was feeling what we call ‘big emotions.’ He was very quiet for a while and deep in thought. Then out of the blue he declared he didn’t want to change his name.
We knew what those thoughts meant. We knew he thought in his very smart toddler mind that he was losing his birth parents. He was in part right, his relationship with them was changing, but, and this is a very important but, they will always be his birth parents and we did (and continue to) make sure he knows that. His name changed but his connection remains.
His sad, ‘big emotion’ feelings didn’t hang around long that day. We had a wonderful family dinner with just about everyone who attended the court proceedings, plus or minus a few. The meal of course included a big chocolate cake, much to the delight of our chocolate loving kids.
The day after, things as a legal family didn’t change much. We still loved each other just as much, we still went to school, daycare and work and we all still had to follow the same house rules. The primary difference was that our children were officially ours and we didn’t have to worry that they would be moved. Well, and of course their middle and last names.
Other notable changes due to the adoption were that we could add them to our dental and healthcare insurance policies. This was particularly important as we had chosen a dentist that didn’t accept the state healthcare insurance, which was the kids’ primary coverage prior the adoption. We’d also stop receiving funds from the state.
While the money we received from the state for the children wasn’t much, it was enough to cover much of the daycare cost. We received the normal daily allowance for a foster child, which is intended to cover room and board costs, as well as a seasonal clothing stipend. We were fortunate enough to receive a small reimbursement for part of Sport’s daycare (which covered a very small fraction of the cost). We also considered ourselves immensely lucky to have received a free, state funded daycare spot for Sunshine. All of this would now come to an end – or so we thought.
As it turned out, the state allowed us some “transition time.” They just failed to communicate that to us. As a result, Sunshine has been able to continue full-time at her home daycare provider (who we love). Luckily, when the transition period ends, we should be able to move her to a private pay slot at the same daycare. We learned about the transition time from the central office that handles paperwork for the daycare provider we use. We do find it curious that we weren’t notified, but we certainly aren’t complaining. Daycare is expensive and every little bit helps.
As for our exciting adventures this summer, you’ll have to stay tuned. We’ll be sure to get another post up soon! Until then here are some teaser photos to enjoy: