Our Imperfect Lives


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Now a Loving and Officially Legal Family

Shoes

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.

AdoptionSign

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.

OutsideCourtRoom

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.

SportSigns

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.

SportAdoptCert

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.

Cake

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:

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Almost a Year

It’s hard to believe but we’re getting close to celebrating one full year with the kids. And unfortunately, we still don’t have much of a sense of when, or if, we’ll be able to call them legally ours (emotionally we already see them as ours and nothing will change the bond we’ve created – they are our son and our daughter). The trial continues to drag on and while there is currently a final court date scheduled, there’s no way to know if it will actually be the final date – at least not until that fateful day rolls around.

We recently met with K, the attorney representing the children, and she still couldn’t say for sure if additional court dates would be added. She did, however, say that after this week she’ll have an idea of when she’ll call one of us to testify and if any additional court dates will be necessary.

This week the trial is on the docket twice and hopefully after the first day K will be able to get a better grip on how the rest of the trial will play out. The first day will likely bring the father’s testimony to a close. Following his testimony will be the remaining social workers on the case: the adoption worker and the previous ongoing worker.

Next up: the parents’ attorneys will make their cases and it’s unclear at the moment how long this will take but K theorizes it shouldn’t be too time consuming. The other adoption option, the children’s maternal grandmother, is expected to testify. If she does, then K has already stated she intends to have one of us testify as well. We briefly discussed who would testify, but no decision has been finalized. We’ll make our decision once we have a date to appear and we start preparing. Either way we hope to both take the day off from work and head to the courthouse. Even though we both can’t physically be in the court room at the same time, we can be in the court house and available for support.

As always we’re trying to stay optimistic and yet realistic about this whole process. It’s admittedly frustrating hearing from many of the other couples from our MAPP class as one by one they announce that their foster children are legally free. In their cases the birth parents of their children have had their rights terminated, either by the parents signing an agreement voluntarily, or by the court forcing it upon them. These families can now start the legal adoption process.

We are of course happy for everyone in our class who is making their dream come true by becoming official parents, but we wish we could celebrate too. It’s difficult being the only ones from our class (that we know of) having to experience the headache of a trial. We can’t help but feel a bit jealous.

Needless to say though, no matter how the adoption happens, it’s difficult – one family is being torn apart while another is being built up. One couple from our MAPP class did share some of the heart wrenching emotions that went into the signing of the TPR (terminating parental rights) paperwork. The adoptive parents described how they cried with the biological parents and promised to care for their little girl.

Right now we can’t envision having any such moment as the biological father is fighting to keep the children. While K has discussed an open adoption agreement that would allow a couple of supervised visits each year along with pictures and letters, we’re told he refuses to even consider such an offer. While we sympathize with him not wanting to give up, it’s hard to imagine him being equipped to raise his children. He also risks losing all access to the children. The judge could rule to terminate the biological parents’ rights and to not allow any visitation or communication.

Marcy can’t help but wonder how much the fight is about the love he has for his children and how much it is about losing. Perhaps it is a mixture of both. While she doesn’t question that he does, on some level, love his children, how is it that he can’t make a greater effort to see his children. (He has now missed several consecutive scheduled visits with them.) She admits he faces some very real obstacles to making the visits, but to not be able to make a visit in the last month and a half?

Regardless of the reasons for the legal fights, one thing is very clear – these children are loved. We love Sport and Sunshine as much as any parent can, all while trying to stay positive about their relationships with their biological family, who also love them.

While we know the lives of these two adorable and yet troublesome kiddos aren’t normal and are maybe a bit more turbulent than most children their age, we’re giving them all the opportunities kids should have to have fun! In fact, this summer they may have been a bit spoiled with the amount of trips and fun activities that they took part in. We’ve already shared some of the excitement from this summer in previous posts but in the last month or two there’s been even more! There was the YMCA family camp (a boy’s camp that is opened at the end of the summer for one week for families to come and stay and take part in all sorts of camp activities like swimming, boating, sports, arts and crafts and more), tent camping in the White Mountains National Forest, and a Unitarian Universalist beach weekend retreat!

Check out photos from all the fun:

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Summer Time Fun

It’s been a while since we last shared with you all, which means a whole lot has happened (not much on the legal front) but there have been first steps, first solo swims and Meg and the kids have traversed three states – we’ve been busy!

Now, before we get into the fun stuff let’s get the handwringing, headshaking legal updates out of the way… First off, one of the most noteworthy legal developments over the last two months is that we will likely have to testify. The trial is now combined with a decision about placement, so the lawyers will call witnesses and argue not only for the question of parental rights but also where the children should be placed, if the parental rights are terminated. As a result, we’ll be presented as an adoption option/placement by the Department of Children and Families. As you may remember from a previous post, the birth parents are also presenting their own option for placement (a grandparent). Of course, it still remains to be seen when we’ll be called to testify.

The trial dates we laid out in our last post are all in the books and the lawyers burned all of their time in court questioning one witness. That’s right, they spent all that time on testimony from one person, the first ongoing social worker on the case. As a result, four more court dates have been scheduled through late September. Time will tell if more dates will need to be scheduled come September, but it seems pretty likely.

As always, we just sit and wait and hope for the best. We also take some comfort in the notion that the children’s lawyer and social workers believe the longer Sport and Sunshine are with us, the less willing a judge will be to remove them from our home. In fact, they will have been with us for one year in October – making us the longest placement for both children since they were born.

OK, we promised you fun stuff….

Let’s begin with Sunshine’s first birthday! It’s hard to think of how the day could have been any better than it was –the early morning rain clouds scattered, the sun came out to play, it was warm – but not too warm – the birthday girl was in good spirits and so were her Moms. We had about twenty adults and a handful of kids running around in the background, a table full of snacks and a grill turning out tasty food.

Our birthday girl, who had to have three costume changes because of all the messy fun she was having, was all smiles and made the happy discovery that she loves cake! She ate as much cake as a grown adult and wore an equal amount on her face, hair and shirt.

The next big adventure was a trip to Vermont, but sadly it wasn’t a trip for the whole family since Marcy and the dogs had to stay home. Even though they were short one Mom, Meg and the kids headed to the Green Mountain State to meet up with our friends and their three kids and had a great time. They got to do very “Vermont” things like feed chickens, pick strawberries and go hiking. Sport even got the privilege of sleeping in a bunk bed and in the top bunk no less. Although before he got the official go ahead to claim the top bunk for his own for the night he had to prove he could safely get up and down the very short (the top bunk was only about 4 feet high) ladder and make his way to the bathroom, which, being the athletic little guy that he is, he had no trouble doing.

We enjoy the great outdoors so naturally we’ve spent a good amount of time soaking in the sun, playing in the yard, splashing in the water and walking in the woods. And we’re lucky enough to have a pretty good sized back yard for living in a fairly dense city, so we’ve spent plenty of time out back. Sport has played almost all of the major American sports in our yard including football, soccer, baseball and basketball. He also is working to develop a bit of a green thumb by helping Meg plant and care for the vegetable garden.

In addition to the joys of gardening we’ve been teaching Sport the wonders of a walk in the woods. At not quite three years old he can spot and follow trail blazes. He also loves to find walking sticks to carry with him as we make our trek. Sunshine has also started to enjoy riding in our new-to-us child carrier for hiking. She gets to face forward and sit up nice and high and take in everything around her. She particularly enjoys when we get nice and close to a tree so she can reach out and run her tiny fingers along the rough bark.

A new favorite outdoor toy from Sunshine’s birthday was a water table, which has brought a splashing good time in the backyard, but not the only fun splashing the kids have taken in this summer! We also took a trip to a park with a splash pad with our friends and their two year old daughter. Sport wasn’t a huge fan of not knowing when the water was going to spray and while he wouldn’t get too close to any of the water elements he managed to have a splashing good time. Even Sunshine, who was under the weather, enjoyed the park – maybe a little too much since she kept trying to crawl across the paved splash pad, scraping up her knees.

And yet the splashing fun didn’t end there! We’ve been taking full advantage of Meg’s parents’ pool. Sport started off the summer being very hesitant about swimming, even with his new life jacket he doesn’t like to be in the pool without having contact with an adult, even if it was just a hand on the life jacket buckle. However, fast forward a few pool sessions and he’s finally able to “swim” a little on his own. He swam from Marcy to Meg a whole five or so yards apart. It’s not much but it’s a start!

In other big milestone news Sunshine took her first steps! She started about a week before she turned 13 months old with only 2 teeny tiny steps! Of course they happened pretty quickly and she didn’t want to do it for the camera so we didn’t get any video or photographic documentation but we’re excited that we were both in the room when it happened (only Marcy was there for her first crawl). It’s been a couple weeks now and she’s only up to about 4 steps at a time. She still prefers to crawl because boy oh boy is she fast when she crawls now!

We recently took the kids to Marcy’s old college stomping grounds – Portland, Maine. We visited the children’s museum and the Portland Headlight. Meg’s cousin and her husband live nearby with their daughter who is two weeks older than Sunshine, so we hit a nice park in Portland and swung on the swings, raced down the slides and played in the sand. We also stopped at a tasty BBQ restaurant where Sunshine drank from a cup using a straw for the first time while her forgetful Mom had to run out to the car to retrieve her sippy cup.

We did so much so far this summer we just can’t even cover it all in this one blog but here’s a quick rundown in photos of our summer so far:

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And we still have a lot more fun planned for the remainder of the summer – Meg will actually be taking the kids on another road trip this coming week while Marcy stays home and we still have the YMCA Family Camp at the end of the summer. It is important to note that before we took off on any out of state escapades we received permission from DCF to do so. Also, when planning any of our trips we must plan them around the children’s bi-weekly visits with their birth father at the DCF office.


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Legal Rigmarole

So far there have been a lot of legal steps that have gone into Sport’s and Sunshine’s DCF case and we’re certainly not anywhere close to being done with the courts and the lawyers and the motions and arguments and all the fun legal rigmarole. However, up until this point, none of them had really involved us – but that all changed about two weeks ago.

We received a phone call from our adoption worker who informed us that we needed to speak with the DCF attorney regarding a motion involving the release of our home study. The attorney told us that bio Dad’s attorney wanted to present another adoption option and in order to do so needed to see what other adoption option (us) they would be competing with. We were also told that the other adoption option was to be Sport and Sunshine’s grandmother, so we assumed this was Dad’s Mom and there was a new player in the game. As it turned out, the grandmother referenced in relation to the motion was bio Mom’s mother, who had already been denied by DCF as an appropriate placement. Of course that was little comfort.

After speaking with a few other adoptive parents we learned that it’s pretty common for birth parents to present last minute adoption options either as an attempt to stall the court proceedings or as a hail mary to keep the child or children close and/or in the family.

What was apparently uncommon was the request to have our home study released. No one we’ve talked to about the situation – adoptive parents, foster parents and even our adoption social worker – had any experience with such a request.

Both the DCF attorney and the children’s attorney expressed to us that they would argue against the release of our home study. We don’t know the details of all their arguments, but the children’s attorney argued that any adoption placement proceedings, including the release of our home study, is irrelevant until the termination of the parental rights (TPR).

The TPR arguments were scheduled for the following week.

Now, if the home study was to be released it would be redacted and supposedly never make it into the hands of the bio parents – only their attorneys. Nevertheless the bio parents would find out some of what it says, including that we’re a same sex couple, which we don’t think they knew about prior. And even redacted – it’s a very personal document. The dad’s attorney may not get to see our names, the city we live in or our places of employment but the whole document, all 15 pages of it, is about us. It tells about our coming out stories, our relationships with our families and each other, our decision to start a family through DCF, our thoughts on parenting and more. It’s a pretty deep delve into our lives.

The document is so personal that a couple of the experienced foster/adoptive parents that we asked about this situation were not only surprised, they actually worried that if prospective foster parents knew that their home studies could get released they might reconsider fostering.

The impending release of our home study didn’t change anything for us and while we were far from overjoyed with the idea, we weren’t so distressed that we’d head into court to try and fight it, which was an option. We had nothing to hide. Yes, they would find out we’re a same sex couple, but in our great liberal state of Massachusetts where we lesbians have all the same rights as heterosexuals and legally cannot be discriminated against solely on the premise that we’re lesbians, we’re not too concerned about our “big secret” being let out of the bag. Our only concern with being revealed as a same sex couple was that dad would be distracted by it when visiting with the children or look for petty reasons to complain about the kids’ care simply because he didn’t like us.

A week later the date rolled around for the motion to be heard in front of the judge and the dad’s attorney won. DCF handed over a redacted version of our home study.

The next trip to the court room for the attorneys was on the docket for the following week – at least it was, but the court dates were pushed forward for reasons unknown to us.

We’re not holding our breath for any good news on the legal front. New court dates have been scheduled for Tuesday, June 2Friday, June 19, and Monday, July 8, but time will tell what actually happens on these days. Since it’s in family court the courtroom is closed and we cannot be present. Nor will the kids be present at any time.

We’ll hear about the hearings in the abstract, if we’re lucky. However, if the bio parents agree to relinquish their rights and sign an open adoption agreement, then we’ll be contacted.

As always, we’re trying to keep this from putting too much of a damper on our days. Right now we’re a couple of lucky ladies with two beautiful kiddos living under our roof and while they both drive us a little batty from time to time we love having them in our lives. We’re continuing to show these two nuggets, Sport and Sunshine, what family, love and fun is all about.

The kids joined us for our annual pilgrimage to the cape for Memorial Day weekend and they had a blast! And just in case you don’t believe us, here are a few photos from the beach to give you a glimpse at how awesome the weekend was:

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Legal family or not – boy are we lucky!


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Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung and we’re sure keeping busy! All of the snow has finally melted and our lawn is starting to show shades of green and the park down the street is teeming with activity, so of course, Sport wants to spend every waking moment running around outside. We’ve played hours of baseball, basketball, football and soccer, but Sport isn’t the only one keeping us on our toes. Sunshine is now on the move – she’s started to crawl!

The busyness is a great way to keep our minds off the upcoming court dates. We have absolutely no control over the outcome of the case, we won’t be present in the courtroom, and we won’t be called as witnesses, so it does us no good to obsess over it. Of course we’re still going worry if our minds have the time to contemplate it – so we don’t give ourselves much time.

To give you a glimpse into how we’ve welcomed spring we decided that photos can say a lot more and are a heck of a lot more fun to look at then paragraphs of words, so here you go, our spring so far…

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The Court Date

It’s been a while since we announced the court dates and we’re sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to know what happened, so drumroll please…… nothing. That’s right nothing happened, well nothing besides a paperwork error and a continuance.

Part of the court proceedings includes an investigation conducted by a neutral third party who will submit a report to the court. This report was supposed to have been completed on February 23, before the trial dates, but someone incorrectly marked the due date as March 23, so it wasn’t ready in time.  Thankfully the kids’ lawyer, K, pushed for the rescheduled date to be sooner rather than later and the judge scheduled the trial for the next available opening – May 21 and 22.

While we were of course disappointed to hear that the case was continued, we’re glad we “only” have to wait until May, because it could be worse – a lot worse. A couple who we took our MAPP classes with (for those of you who need a quick refresher those were our Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting classes that were required to become certificated foster parents) also had a court date scheduled the same week for TPR (termination of parental rights) and also had a continuance. However, their case was continued until 2017!

Although hearing about the pushed court date was a bit of a headache, trying to schedule a time for the court investigator to come out and meet with us and the kids was an even bigger headache!

We can only assume that since the investigator’s report was supposed to be due on February 23rd that it was assigned sometime before then. However, we only heard from the investigator once the kids’ lawyer reached out to her the day of the continuance. Then we went back and forth for two weeks before deciding on a date. The date we decided on of course coincided with Meg’s doctor’s appointment, but she decided to reschedule since picking a date had turned into such a hardship.

The Sunday night before our appointment with the court investigator we got an email  – she had to cancel. Ugh. She offered up another date, which of course was inconvenient as Meg had an appointment after school in another town and wouldn’t be home until after five o’clock. The court investigator had suggested meeting around three or four o’clock. Wanting to be as accommodating as possible, we agreed to the new date on the stipulation that we meet after five o’clock. She never emailed back.

The day before the proposed rescheduled meeting Meg called to try and confirm the appointment but didn’t reach the investigator, so we were still in limbo. That night we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Meg’s parents. Sport had a grand time. He played with Meg’s parents’ dogs, a golden retriever and a yellow lab, played with the special toys that Grammy keeps at her house for Sport, and got to eat a giant cookie shaped like a basketball. Sunshine, however, was not feeling too sunny. She spiked a fever of 102 degrees and was very uncomfortable. We were without children’s Tylenol at Meg’s parents’ house so Marcy had to make an emergency trip to the store to buy some. After the medicine kicked in she was able to calm down a little bit, but only if she was being held.

Basketball cookie

The next day, the proposed day of the rescheduled appointment, Sunshine was still warm and she added diarrhea to her ailments, that we would soon find out also included a double ear infection. It was a work from home day so Marcy could try and nurse little Sunshine back to health. She was a relatively happy little baby in the morning, even playing a while before the diarrhea and red bottom really kicked in.

Working from home

Right around the time Sunshine started going downhill and she was crying uncontrollably, Meg called to let Marcy know that the court investigator would be at  the house at five o’clock perhaps beating Meg and Sport home. We weren’t prepared. We wanted to tidy up the house and fix a few things that we had been meaning to get to every weekend for the past couple of months. Of course, Marcy had an hour or so to get ready, but Sunshine wasn’t having any of it. She needed to be held and consoled.

Thankfully the house wasn’t a complete disaster. The court investigator came over and gave us a run down about how anything we say can be used in court, yada yada… We kind of figured that and we weren’t planning on saying anything that we wouldn’t want to be disclosed in court. Although just to note, what we said could be used in court but not our identities. We would be completely anonymous –Ms. X and Ms. X.

We chatted about how the children were doing at daycare, how they’ve adjusted to our home, the milestones they’ve achieved, and more. Then to finish up the meeting Sport proudly lead the investigator up to his room and then to Sunshine’s.

We were glad to finally get the meeting with the court investigator in the books. Despite being very busy, she was very helpful and professional. An important step in the adoption process was done.

In addition to meeting with us, the investigator would meet with the biological families as well as doctors, daycare providers, and pretty much anyone playing an important role in the lives of the children.

Now we wait until May…

And for this week’s photo break we bring you photos from a trip to the Ecotarium with Marcy, her brother Matt, her sister Missy and the kids:

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Information, Glorious Information

We went into this knowing that it wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t going to be a normal placement. A normal pre-adoptive placement would have included a disclosure (a sit down with social workers who would reveal every scrap of information the department knew about the children) and more preparation time. We had neither. As a result we’ve been a bit lacking on the information front.

Now, please don’t think that we’re second guessing our decision, because that line of reasoning couldn’t be more off the mark. We absolutely adore these kids, even when Sport is throwing a tantrum or Sunshine won’t let us sleep.

Unfortunately, the adoption social worker assigned to Sport and Sunshine is the lone adoption worker in her office and she has a pretty hefty work load. That work load includes a list of disclosures that she needs to conduct and we’re a few down the line, so we wait. And wait.

Until recently, most of the information we had about Sport and Sunshine’s biological parents, aka bio parents, came from clues we found in the children’s medical records, early intervention reports, and even the newspaper. It’s not that the adoption worker was withholding information, she just didn’t know much. She was relatively new to the case when we were selected as the pre-adoptive placement for the kids and she didn’t have the information to conduct a disclosure. She’s been slowly pulling together information on the case and the kids. On occasion she’s actually asked us for information such as the medical paperwork from Sunshine’s birth.

The ongoing case worker who organized and supervised the visits with the bio parents had more information about them and the circumstances that lead to the kids being in state custody. And while we have heard that many ongoing workers tend to share as much as they can with pre-adoptive families without breaking privacy rules, this ongoing worker was extremely cautious about not breaking, or even bending, privacy rules and shared next to nothing with us.

On the one hand we know that DCF workers are overworked and under a lot criticism due to some very upsetting and highly publicized cases, so we try to be sympathetic. However, on the other hand we have this nagging feeling, based in part on our lack of information, that this case has been mishandled along the way. The original social worker assigned to the case seems to be no longer employed by the department and some of the paperwork from when Sport was first brought into care appears to be incomplete or just missing. We’re hoping it turns up.

Thankfully the social workers are not the only individuals with information about the case. After having the kids in our care for over four months, we finally met their attorney. She was a fountain of information! Her role in court is to express what she thinks the kids would say they want – if they were able to communicate it themselves. She told us right away that she thinks the kids would say they want to stay with us.

She has been with the case since it began – making her the longest tenured person with the case that we’re in communication with. She was able to give us information about Sport’s many placements in his short life as well as some additional details about why the kids were so quickly moved from their previous foster home into ours. She also shared information about what’s to come.

We knew that there were court dates scheduled for March 5 and 6 but we were a bit cloudy on the details. We were under the impression that the proceedings on those days were to have Sport’s goal officially changed to adoption in the courts and for the state to get permanent custody of Sunshine. However, the cases were recently combined and the department is suggesting that the biological parents’ rights be terminated.

This means that later this week could be a big milestone in our adoption process. The judge could rule to terminate parental rights. Terminating the parental rights (or TPR) is a critical step in our adoption process, because without it there is no legal adoption. Of course the judge could decide not to terminate their rights, or even to give them a bit more time to get their act together. We’re trying to stay as optimistic as possible while preparing ourselves for the long road ahead, because even if the judge rules to terminate the parental rights they can still appeal.

Their attorney did give us the impression that she’s somewhat confident that the judge will rule to terminate rights. She’s familiar with the judge and informed us that the judge also presided over the case involving Sport and Sunshine’s half brothers. We’re also told that this judge has a reputation for not wanting to drag a case out.

Since this is a family court case, it’s a closed court room, which means we can’t attend. Both the attorney and the adoption worker have graciously offered to keep us updated through text messaging. It will be important for them to be in touch with us during the court dates not just to try and ease our nervous minds, but because we’ve informed them we’d be amenable to an open adoption agreement.

While there will be added stress involved if we agree to make the kids available a couple of times a year for supervised visits with the bio family, there are also several advantages. The most obvious is that it could move things along more quickly. The bio parents might sign the open adoption agreement rather than going to trial – or they might sign it after the trial rather than filing an appeal. If that happens their parental rights would be terminated and we’d be free to adopt Sport and Sunshine.

We also need to remember that adoption is not just a celebration for a child, but also a great loss. The child may be permanently separated from their biological family members. For better or for worse, Sport and Sunshine’s bio family will always be a part of them – in their genes, their ancestry, and obviously their appearance. While the parents have not always made the best choices, it is obvious that they do care about the children. Supervised visits would allow the parents to see that the children are cared for and also allow the children to see how their bio parents are doing.

We would keep our lives private and separate from the bio parents – nothing about our private lives would be revealed, not even the city we live in. In fact, we would have to select a proxy who would be a contact point for the bio parents if we were ever to fail to comply with the adoption agreement. To protect the children, the agreement will have what’s called a sunset clause. This clause would allow for the visits to be terminated if the bio parents didn’t comply with specific requirements or if the visits prove to be detrimental to the children.

With whatever happens on Thursday and Friday, we’re going to continue to do everything we can for Sport and Sunshine. The legal aspect of their futures is completely out of our hands. We’ll just think positively and do our best to be prepared for whatever is to come.

To help with our positive thoughts here are some fun photos that bring a smile to our faces, and hopefully yours too. We took Sport on his first snowshoeing adventure:

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