Happy Anniversary to my little man - our adoption story

Thursday, October 17, 2013

a very emotional moment with my son just moments after the judge signed the adoption decree

There will be no reviews today...

Today is a day for celebration and joy

One year ago today after a VERY long journey my son's adoption was final.

I  really don't know how much of our adoption story I have shared here on Dragon Slayer...it isn't something I hide, but it isn't something that pops up in common conversation either though.

in October of 2011 I received a letter from a relative asking that I consider being a foster parent to his infant son... I will not go into the real details but in a nutshell my son was born addicted to drugs and the state of TX places the baby into foster care immediately from the day he was released from the hospital...obviously there are many reasons WHY my son was not placed with other biological family members but that really isn't the story and not for anyone but my son to determine who knows his story someday...

so we received a letter from my cousin as I said ....actually the letter was even mailed to my mom's hose and she read it to me over the phone... I know for a fact my mom never in her wildest dreams thought that my husband and I would consider becoming foster parents (between my health problems, becoming recent empty nesters and literally having just moved into our "retirement" house weeks before) 

I think that night over dinner I mentioned it my husband (it was a Friday...and I had just done my chemo treatment) I remember him asking a few questions about the WHY's of the case which honestly at that point I didn't "really know" all the answers... I don't think either one of us realized tat that point what we were about to do...

So t the next morning over breakfast hubby asked me "you really want to do this don't you" I didn't have to ask what he was talking about, I already knew... at that second I realized he had obviously been thinking about it as well...

We decided I would contact the case worker whose name was in the letter and see if we could perhaps talk to her... it was a saturday so I left her a voice mail.

Monday comes around and I email her... I wanted to be upfront and honest about my health condition before we got anyone's hope us about this (we at this time still thought we would be Tuff's foster parent's until his mom or dad was permitted to have custody of him themselves) My goal at this time was to bring my second cousin home to the family who loved him and in which he was born to (his birth parents are married so both are my family legally) We were under the impression we would be looking at a kinship foster arrangement for a few months...

THEN a phone call.... tuffy's case worker tells me there has been a change in the direction the case will go that a judge has ruled against reunification with biological parents and adoption was the new goal for Tuffy....

I told her I needed to talk to my husband...

we talked, I don't think we ever said OK we will adopt , but we had a family group conference already scheduled as part of normal Child Protective Services/Foster child case procedure and we had been invited to attend to help determine the best thing for Tuffy... we had NOT decided to adopt... I was too sick... my kids were in College... we still wanted to convince CPS to allow us to be his foster parents until his birth father could come home in a few years....

we picked up my aunt and went to the meeting (my aunt tells me in the car that she arranged a chance for us to meet Tuffy for ourselves  and have a supervised visit with him after the meeting... my heart kinda did a weird flip flop) it was 11/4/2011... Tuffy was 5 1/2 months old... It was race weekend here in Texas, my youngest daughter was waiting at home for us so we could head to Texas Motorspeedway .... the meeting was at 9:00am....our world was about to change forever...

As tha various parties included in the family group conference come in to the conference room they try to conceal the shock of seeing us sitting there with my aunt (I later discovered that everyone had been told no family member who was eligible for CPS clearance was interested in Tuffy being placed in their home... yet we were sitting there about to change everything... Tuffy's original foster parents were not warned about is at all...yet they knew instantly as a blood relative I had priority in a placement situation... Again, my husband and I had never agreed to adopt we were actually not goint to adopt...but wanted to have a say in Tuffy's future...somewhere that morning someone asked WHY we would want to be his foster parents if only to have him moved to an adoptive family later IF his parents lost the appeal to keep their son... without missing a beat my husband replied...we don't intend for him to ever go anywhere else...we want to adopt him ...remember we still have not even seen a photo of him or met him yet and we know that there are some concerns because of all the drugs... that was it...in that second without even discussing it out loud (just a non verbal look that passed between us we decided right then and there this was OUR SON they were talking about wnd no one would push him from home to home or talk about him like a piece of property ever again....we were bringing him home to the family that he was born into but just to a different branch of the family tree so to speak...

a LOT of things were said and asked and discussed (which is all confidential so I will not discuss it here) around 11:00 the CPS caseworkers, attorneys, foster family and CASA worker left the room and left the "family" to make a plan... the family as a whole had to determine WHO they wanted to nominate to be considered for adoption by the courts... obviously my family members wanted us, his biological mother agreed with my family but his mother's mom wanted the foster parents to keep him (she did not want any member of my family in Tuffy's life...although she had never met us) we had an hour and a half to hammer out Tuffy's entire future and it had to be unanimous decision...

When our "family time" was over it was decided my husband and I would apply to be Tuffy's adoptive parents and in the meantime start the immediate process to become his new foster parents while the legal wheels turned ever so slowly since his biological parents did not place him for adoption but the state was terminating their rights it is a much different and much longer process and a "regular" adoption...

So when the foster parents came back into the room they had Tuffy with them .... As he was being carried into the room my heart stopped, it took all the strength I had to stay in my chair... his grandmother wanted to hold him... so I just sat and stared as my husband massaged my neck... I couldn't take my eyes off him as the silent tears ran down my face.... I think that a lot of people in the room couldn't "read" Dave and I at that instant.... we were exercising all the self control we could... we walked into that room a few hours ago thinking we would help have a say in Tuffy's future...now we WERE his future...yest I was sitting there trying to be polite and allow his grandmother a few moments with her grandson when all I wanted to do was hold him... I was already in t=love with him...it was love at first sight...actually truth be told I loved him before I saw him... but the instant I saw him my heart was complete and I had not even realized a part of it had been missing... 

Finally one of the social workers, maybe the attorney ...someone suggested leaving us alone with Tuffy (we were monitored my a camera,and audio recorder  this was "our" moment... the first time we were alone as a family ...I did what any new mom would do....pulled off his socks and counted his toes... felt this gums for teeth (remember he wasn't a newborn)  and tried to console him when he cried for the only mom he had ever known... it was then I realized I was in unchartered waters... this baby...OUR baby! He had already bonded with another family...and would continue to do so until he was finally placed in our home and no one knew how long that would take...he didn't realized "I" WAS his mommy...I needed to learn his different cries, his sounds, he needed to learn my voice and my smell... this was day one of a seemingly long at the time but in reality an accelerated "transition period" 


you know you would think that once we were finally alone we would have had a long OMG talk or something, but we didn't ...we just said well...time to tell everyone in the family and we might need to check on maternity/paternity leave for adoptive parents (we were both employed back then) oh and gotta tell the girls they have a baby brother... it was never ...might have a baby brother..in our minds it WAS a done deal...period...

I remember coming home and picking up my daugher and on the way to the track telling her about it...she said she already knew because her sister had told her (my oldest overheard us discussing fostering him the week before) that was that...

we got to the track and I bought him his first NASCAR clothes (Jimmie Johnson from me and Kyle Bush from my daughter) ... took pics of the clothes and texted them to my parents and said "congrats it's a 17 pound boy"

We began the weekly supervised visits at the CPS office where we spent an hour a week with Tuffy, our first home study was done , we went in front of the judge, home study was approved but now we needed judge to sign off on placement... finally the day before Thanksgiving I got a all saying that we could start having UNSUPERVISED visits with Tuffy and the first one could be the next day... I was getting to bring my baby home for Thanksgiving... we had already sent up a quick little nursery area in our room (we knew he must sleep in our room to help accelerate bonding) again I was a nervous wreck...good thing it was only a day to wait... I would not have made it any longer than that...

I made some quick and excited calls to family members to let them know that they could meet the baby the next day... I don't have words to describe three of the things that happened during that first 4 hour visit at our home... my daughters meeting and holding their baby brother for the first time (who would have thought my kids would be twenty years apart in age) , my uncle (who had recently had a bone marrow transplant) holding his infant grandson in his arms when he though he had lost him forever, and once they all had left and it was just my hubby and I alone with our son for the first time ever listening to him sing a fussy, scared little baby to sleep in Japanese... I knew he had lived in Japan as a child, but had never heard him use the language...plus it had an amazing calming effect on Tuffy... who I know was scared and wondering what was going on ....

and then AGONY... it was time for Tuffy to go back "home" my visit was over... "they" came to take him away... I did not know I could hurt THAT bad... I think that was the first time I realized that until the day trhe adoption was final that at any moment anyone would come and take my son away and there was NOTHING that I could do to stop them....

and so it began... a weekly dance of elation when he was dropped off on Friday and despair on Sundays when he was picked up... Monday through Thursday our crib was SOOO empty and mocked me...sleep simply wouldn't come anymore unless my baby was at home in his crib...

I know this transition period was hard on me, and his foster mom both... each of us having our world ripped apart each week left to stare at an empty crib... she and I both would surely lose our sanity if this continued like this for much longer... WHEN would the Judge sign the paperwork... FINALLY on Wednesday December 14th near 5 PM I got the call I had been waiting for.... Tuffy would officially be placed with is on Friday December the 16th ... My baby would be home for Christmas...Praise God... It was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received...

it was the first step to being his adoptive parents...the state law required that we be foster parents first since he was a ward of the state... and we had to be foster parents for a minimum of 6 months before we could file an adoption petition... and so it began... weekly "homechecks" where a social worker or attorney from various organizations would come to my home and literally check under the furniture, in the fridge, closets, even the garage to make sure we were "adequate" parents and then they would sit and watch us interact with Tuffy for about 30 to 45 min and then leave... month visits in front of the Judge... all the time just wanting the State of Texas to leave us alone to be a family...we knew this was part of it but there are no words to prepare someone for that kind of intrusion on their lives...we had no secrets, nothing...they called our friends, family, co workers, ex spouses, interviewed my kids .... you wouldn't believe the questions they asked in monthly "interview sessions that lasted about 3 hours at a time"

Because he was being passed from case worker to caseworker (they kept quitting) we had to start over all again with every new caseworker (which was why so many interview sessions)  FINALLY we were passed to the "adoption" unit and our attorney worked with the to set up the court date... I don't think I ever let my guard down... I remember the feeling of "giving him back" all those months...years ago ... and I knew until the Judge sigened the adoption decree it could happen again and I may never see him again... I lived with that reality ever sigle day of my life... so last year on October the 17th 20152... my life finally began again...

because now my son is OURS forever and never again will I worry someone will be able to take him away

all is as it should be

so happy anniversary my darling boy....

mommy loves you to the moon and back!





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2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Happy Anniversary to my little man - our adoption story”

  1. What an amazing and wonderful story!! I love happy endings!! Love you guys!!

    ReplyDelete