This morning we took our family to Children’s Court and did the final steps of our adoption of our girls S & V. We got them as foster children when they were only 5 days old over two and a half years ago. For the last year and a half our eventual adoption of them seemed certain, so today wasn’t a huge relief, but it was a nice culmination of the process, an affirmation of our family’s legal validity, and a chance to celebrate the amazing, life-changing children we have.
We did a good job the night before making sure everything was ready to go. Our backpack full of diapers, spare clothes, and snacks was packed, checked, and in the car. The clothes for everyone were selected and laid out. We got up at 6:00 am, early enough to not have to rush too crazily to make it out the door at 7:30 am, which is usually the girls’ wake up time. Everyone managed to eat some breakfast, the dads got to shower and shave (something I never do first thing in the morning these days), and we were in the car on our way right at 7:30. Of course there was more traffic than we anticipated, so we got to court a bit later than we hoped.
The girls’ fancy dresses were made of crinoline (I think), so we’d dressed them in shorts and t-shirts for the drive there. Once we parked, we pulled off the shirts and on the dresses and off we went.
In the elevator down from the parking structure, we ran into the attorney that had represented V & S for the first year and a half or so. She had been really fantastic representing the girls for us, and it was nice to see her again. She promised to come to our court room for the adoption, which made me really glad. At the bottom of the elevator we ran into Mike’s parents, as well as the girl’s honorary aunt Stavroula, who wanted to come and I got to take pictures for us.
Baby R had had a bottle while we drove, and of course had pooped his diaper, too. We knew we needed to change him as soon as we got in to court, but I figured we could wait until we got to our court room and checked in with the bailiff. Alas, that did not work out. There is a security checkpoint at the court house, much like at an airport, though luckily not quite so severe. But they did need us to unbuckle R and lift him out of his car seat so they could verify that we weren’t hiding any weapons under him. When we lifted him up, it was apparent that he’d had a HUGE leaky poop that had to be dealt with ASAP, since it was already fouling the car seat. We rushed right into the first restroom we could find, but unfortunately it didn’t have a changing table (Despite being in CHILDREN’S COURT…) But as we were well packed for such crises, we just whipped out a blanket for the floor, a huge pack of wipes, and went to work. We sacrificed the onesie he’d been wearing as well as a cloth diaper rag used in the cleaning; chucked them with the diaper and 30,000 poopy used wipes in a ziplock bag in the trash. Just as we were about to start dressing him (I had cleverly saved his cute court clothes to put on after we arrived at court), he started peeing. I just managed to avoid getting baby urine all over my tie! But we came out of that craziness pretty successfully. R was clean and cute, neither Mike nor I got poop or pee on our clothes, and back out the door we went to go check in to court.
We got to the court room at about 9 am, which isn’t really that bad. Court starts at 8:30 am, but I’ve learned from my years now of attendance that no one really gets called in before 9:30. I did know that adoptions tend to be handled first each day, so I didn’t want to push it too far.
We were met in the waiting area by the girls’ (paternal) biological aunt and grandmother, whom we’ve been lucky enough to become friends (family!) with over the last couple years. The aunt and her husband are adopting our girls’ biological sister, and they have two biological children of their own. It has been fantastic for us and the girls to have made such a warm connection with some members of their biological family. We see them every few months, and it is always fun. They came to our girls’ first birthday party, which we had at Mike’s parents’ house, and my parents flew out from Wisconsin for the occasion as well. They’ve really been a part of our new family’s life for a couple years now, and it was so nice to be able to include them at the adoption finalization hearing. I know it means a lot for them to be a part of the girls’ lives, despite not being able to adopt them themselves. (When the girls were born, they already had 3 kids under 3 in their house!) We also gave S her biological grandmother’s name as her middle name, which I hope helps to express how much she means to us. (For context, V is named after my grandmother, and V’s middle name is Mike’s grandmother’s name.)
We ended up waiting for about an hour before we got called in to the court room, which was just about perfect. Any longer and the girls would have gotten bored and started going crazy. The proceedings only lasted a few minutes. The judge had us introduce everyone we’d brought to witness. Then Mike and I were sworn in, signed the adoption agreement paperwork, and promised to care for the girls as our children forever. Ta dah! Then the judge invited us up to pose for pictures with her behind the bench. One with all the family we’d brought, and then another with just Mike and the girls and me. The girls got teddy bears to commemorate the day, too.
Then we loaded back in our cars and headed home.
That’s pretty much the story of our day in court. I’ve got a lot more to write, about the fun party we had tonight at our favorite restaurant with many of our friends, and some big picture reflections on what this all means and what I think about how it all came to be. But that will have to wait until tomorrow, as it it getting late and I am tired!