April 15th, 2013
Ask anyone who has ever adopted a child through international or domestic adoption, and they'll tell you that the most incredible time is when you finalize the adoption.
The adoption process is grueling. Even when you have everything "fall into place" and you don't have a wait. The vast amount of documents, the intrusive questions, the lack of privacy are all incredibly hard on people who choose to adopt a child. I've never been pregnant and had to undergo what it's like to be pregnant, but I highly doubt it is anything like what you go through when you adopt.
While not everyone celebrates Adoption Day (some call it "Gotcha Day"), we most certainly do. Not only do we celebrate because we're proud that we've built our family through the blessing of adoption, but we want our children to celebrate the day they officially became ours forever and ever.
For a lot of people, coming to the conclusion that adoption is what you'd like to do to build or expand your family, isn't something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time to think about the pros and the cons, you have to look at the finances and determine if you can afford to adopt (which is sad), and you have to decide if you're really up for the challenge of the unknown.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; adoption isn't for everyone.
Once you submit your application (if you go with an agency), it's scary. I can vividly remember how nervous I was once we sent everything in. It was out of our hands at the point, and up to the agency to determine if they wanted us, and if they had room for us.
When we got our letter in January of 2010 saying that we had been accepted by CAS and we would be hearing from them regarding the formal application process, we were so excited.
The home study process was the scariest at first glance, but after experiencing it once, we knew there was nothing to fear. In all actuality, the home study is the easiest part of the adoption. Well... almost.
With Gus's adoption, we had to wait for several months before we could bring him back home. He was two months old when we finally got the okay to come home with him. It was the best feeling ever to finally get to bring our baby into our home and get our lives started with him.
We had two post-placement visits once we were home. The first was at the three months of being home mark (he was five months) and the second was when he was home for six months (he was eight months old). Because we finalized in Michigan, we weren't really given much of a choice when it came to when we'd go to court. We were given Friday, April 8th, 2011 and Friday, April 15th, 2011. With Steve's work schedule, the 15th happened to work best for us.
On April 14th (a Thursday), we drove to MI for Gus's finalization hearing. We didn't have a lot of time to spend, we actually came home on Sunday the 17th.
We went to court on Friday the 15th and were joined by my parents and Gus's birth mom and her mom. We had a very formal hearing with the judge and then took pictures after. When the whole thing was over, we met up with Gus's great-grandma Marge and his birth mom and Grammy for lunch with my parents. It was awesome to celebrate. That afternoon, we went and painted our hands on a plate and celebrated that night with family and friends at Outback for dinner. It was awesome.
Gus and his godmother
Gus was 11 months when we finalized his adoption.
With Hugh, it has been a totally different adoption all together.
Not only did we never have to involve an agency, but we picked our attorney, had a lot of time with his birth mom, we were in the delivery room when he was born, and we were able to come back home relatively soon (the holiday held us up a bit).
We had one post placement/court report visit and then our attorney contacted us and told us when we'd be going to court.
Monday, April 15th, 2013 at 9:30am
My first reaction was, "NO WAY!!!!" I couldn't believe the odds that we'd finalize Hugh's adoption on the same day that Gus's was finalized two years before. I mean, there ARE 365 days... it could have been any day, but it happened to be April 15th and I took it as a sign.
We dressed Hugh in the same shirt and tie that his big brother wore to his finalization hearing. The shocker is that Gus was 11 months when he wore it and Hugh was three months. Hugh is a big boy!!
We went to court and didn't know what to expect. We were going into it expecting it to be similar to how Gus's hearing went, but it was vastly different. We never went into a courtroom. We actually went into the judge's chamber and met with him in his office. He was in regular clothes (no robe) and we had a casual conversation before the swearing in occurred.
Our judge's brother was adopted and he mentioned that he has a special place in his heart for adoption. :-)
We were sworn in by our attorney, he asked us several yes/no questions. Then that was it! It was over before I knew it and I actually said, "That's it?"
The judge got his robe and we took a few pictures before heading to the records room to get our official documents.
We went to the records room with our attorney, he filed everything and gave us Hugh's adoption decree and said he'd be filing the birth certificate request for us. Then we shook hands and we left to go home.
Just like that it was over.
It was so awesome to FINALLY be done with the adoption process. I won't say that we'll never adopt again, because who knows what the future will bring, but at this point, we're both 99.9% certain that we're done adopting. Unless a miracle of God happens and I get pregnant, we're done building our family.
I'm blessed beyond belief. We had relatively easy adoptions. Both happened without an agency, and both were brought into our lives for a reason. I feel that both boys are gifts from God, and their birth parents are the most selfless people I've ever known. I don't take a single day for granted with them, and I know that we've built our family via adoption for a very good reason.
I'm excited to not have to share any more private and personal information with a stranger again. I'm excited that I don't have to jump through any additional hoops to comply with rules and regulations that I don't necessarily agree with. I'm excited that I don't have to spend any more money on attorney fees or agency fees.
I am so excited to be done with the adoption process. I finally feel like we can move forward and just really enjoy the memories of when we were in the process.
The process is grueling and it's hard and it's not for everyone. But, when you finally do finish what you've started and you have a beautiful child that's all yours, as if you birthed them yourself... it's just remarkable.
So we celebrate two adoptions on April 15th. We have a Double Adoption Day and we couldn't feel more blessed.