Tag Archives: Adoption Finalization

The Birth Certificate

Grammy recently came up to visit me for my birthday. During our mother-daughter bonding time, we somehow got to talking about adoption documentation. It occurred to me that I had never shown her Hope’s post-adoption birth certificate.

This document drives me batty.

It drives me batty because it is a lie.

Hope’s post-adoption birth certificate reads as though I gave birth to her and chose not to name her father.

I pulled out the document and showed it to Grammy. She was shocked! She had a ton of questions about why I had a legal document for something that she and I both know never happened.

Yeah, me too, Grammy. Me too.

Grammy just kept exclaiming that the document is a lie. I have never given birth to a child. Frankly to suggest that I did is a painful reminder of how my body has failed me. I have muscled my way to all kinds of life achievements, but that act of carrying a child in my body to term and producing a living, breathing baby…well that will go down as one of my personal failures.

(I don’t ruminate on that as much as I used to, but know that the sting of infertility will always be there.)

But I have a document that says my body did just that. In fact, this legal document that will for the rest of my and my daughter’s days and beyond says that my body did do it and that I did not name a father for the child that I did not birth in the first place. It is a seriously perplexing one-page document characterizing my daughter’s entry into the world.

Seriously there are layers to this thing. Hope had biological parents, both parents were named. That document shows information about both of those parents. There was a legal document that marked her entry into the world. In the document I received after our finalization, it’s like those people never existed. They are erased. Just vanished into the void. As one of my daughter’s biological parents is deceased, this erasure feels especially harsh. It’s like the Bureau of Vital Statistics simply decided to erase him from her story.

It’s crazy enough when this all happens with infant adoption, but when you adopt an older child, they remember their people. It’s not just a psychic or metaphysical thing, Hope lived with her parents. She remembers them; their names, what they looked like, how much she loved them, dinners they made, gifts they gave her, adventures they had, bikes they rode, books they read, places they went…she remembers the life she had with them.

We have a document that suggests that never happened.









I listened patiently as Grammy worked through all of this in her head and outloud. We talked about whether the state thought that this approach to post-adoptive birth certificates was a holdover to the days when you weren’t supposed to talk about adoption or admit adoption. We talked about how it double downed on the shame that those of us who have experienced infertility feel by simply pretending we gave birth. We talked about how far things have come that single motherhood was generally less stigmatizing that admitting your family was created by adoption and how effed up that was. We also talked about how my characterization in the birth certificate made me seem like I *might* be a candidate for the Maury Povich show because I didn’t name my child’s father.


via giphy

Years from now, without an addendum, will some future genealogist wonder if I knew my child’s father or if he was married or if paternity was in question or some other thing that just wasn’t true.

Grammy concluded her vocal processing by folding up the document, handing it back to me and declaring that it’s just wrong.

No kidding.

This is one of those things they don’t tell you about in the adoption process—whether or how the post-adoption birth certificate will characterize how you created your family. They don’t tell you that the document that comes in the mail after finalization may simply be a lie, a legal one, but a lie nonetheless. They don’t tell you that because of privacy laws, this may be the only document that shows up 50 years from now on Ancestry when someone is trying to figure out who Aunt ABM and Cousin Hope are and how do they fit into the family. They don’t tell you that those privacy laws, for some adoptees, mean they will never have access to the original document that accurately documents their birth.

Of course, I have my and Hope’s adoption decree, but as she approaches adulthood, there is hardly any need to refer to that document. But you need access to your birth certificate throughout your lifetime. It’s one of a few documents that proves American citizenship—it states where you were born. It’s just not the same.

As readers know, the fact that Hope will be 18 in about 4 months hade been weighing on me emotionally.. After her birthday, provided her surviving birth parent hasn’t blocked release of the original birth certificate, Hope will legally be able to get that document for the price of some paperwork and $20. At least she doesn’t have to pay more for the OBC than the adoptive birth certificate.

I intend to help her order a copy. Her social worker was kind enough to have a non-official copy included in Hope’s disclosure records. I didn’t appreciate back then what a gift that was, to see what the original looked like, what it said. I do now. So even though we have a copy, I will help Hope order an official copy. What she does with it is her business; I just think it’s important for her to have an accurate document that documents her entry into the world.

As for me, when we make the request, I’ll also be writing letters on simply having an OBC that has a adoption notation to increase the accuracy of this important legal document. I’ll include that my daughter having access to a document that describes her birth should not be withheld from her. She shouldn’t have to Hope anyone else thought to block access to a document about her. Yes, the document is about other people as well, but there should be some transparency there for everyone. It’s only right.

So, yeah, I have a document that reminds me of my body’s failures and advances a lie about my daughter’s birth. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to parent Hope, but some of the stuff that goes on within Adoptionland is just weird.


The First Year

The last month or so has been really challenging for me. Certainly I was struggling with self-care, but it’s more than that. I realized over the last month that Hope and I were entering a new phase, and I am having trouble adjusting to our realities.

I remember reading, what seems like an eternity ago, how you go through the honeymoon phase, the rough phase, a smoothing out phase and then, potentially rougher phases.

I think we’ve hit a rougher phase. And I think we’re both just roughing it.

I am realizing that so much of Hope’s challenges are largely invisible. Sure, she has some physical scars, but the emotional, psycho-socio scars…they are so hard to tease out sometimes. It’s easy to forget they are there sometimes until denying their existence is simply impossible.

Nearly 18 months of love, therapy, medical help, stability, routine, hard fighting, and it’s finally safe enough for Hope’s deeper issues to show themselves.

That’s a huge win to celebrate on the anniversary of our finalization, even if it doesn’t feel celebration worthy.

It’s kind of like opening the closet and finding one of the lighter Stephen King stories.

And interestingly, I feel more alone than ever in my on ground life, save for my most amazing couple of lifelines. You see a year after finalization and nearly 18 months after placement we couldn’t possibly have problems, right? Nope, no problems here.

I just lie and say we’re doing great, perpetuating the myth that post-adoptive families don’t struggle.

I was doing some reading this week about parental expectations, ahead of the recent episode of Add Water and Stir; the articles I covered explored adoptive parents’ emotional health. General findings were that APs with misaligned parenting expectations were at greater risk for depression, lower resilience, more challenges in bonding, and an extensive list of other depressing ailments, which all in turn trigger more challenging behaviors from adoptees. And the cycle continues.

Just awesome.

Oh and did I mention that most of these studies were done two years post placement and/or finalization? Hope and I are only 1 year out and these last two months have me feeling like I’m clawing my way through life.


Now I know those studies don’t *have* to apply to me and Hope, but I am increasingly aware that my expectations of parenting and of Hope are just…just off.

I thought they’d be more realistic after our first year together.

They are better than they were, but I’m thinking they aren’t as low as they should be.

Yesterday was my and Hope’s “gotcha” anniversary. It’s beautiful, but it’s also bittersweet. We kept things fairly low key with manis, pedis and brow taming, dinner and dessert on Friday and dress shopping today for the 8th grade dance yesterday.

Shopping for the dress was such a nightmare that she asked to stop shopping, and I silently cried on the way home. Oh and we left the mall with no dress and Hope debating whether she should even go to the dance because she is ugly with no friends and no style and it will probably be awful anyway. No one wins.

Lately I’m crying almost as much as I was right after the initial placement. I’m feeling not very attached. I’m not even wanting to hang with her as much. I’m just having trouble dealing to our normal right now.

Yeah, this is our normal, and it kinda sucks. My kid doesn’t have many friends; she runs them away. She doesn’t get invited to anything; she differentiates the group she hangs with from school as just being that rather than true friends. But the kids at the new church? One couple hour block of hang time, and they are friends. I hope they become friends, but it concerns me that she thinks they are already friends.

I had and have so many hopes and dreams for us, together and separately, but I think they may just be too much. I’m trying to let go some of those hopes and dreams because I am not sure Hope will course correct, whether I can get her there (wherever there actually is), that I can be emotionally ok with not meeting milestones when they are supposed to be met, that I’m terrified about what the future holds.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been so pessimistic about the future, even if I do believe we will make progress. It all makes me so very sad. Really it’s grief.

I’m disappointed that commemorating our first finalization anniversary turned into something that brought in the gray clouds. I’m hopeful that the coming weeks will bring more sunshine. I’m hopeful that the coming year brings more progress.

A Month Away

I’ve been struggling lately, and I’ve really been struggling to write as well. For nearly two years, I’ve been able to write through pain and joy, highs and lows and achievements and falls. Presently I feel like I’m just fighting to keep up with just about everything, including writing, though writing really does tend to bring me some kind of solace.

Hope and I will celebrate our finalization in 31 days. It’s shocking that a year has nearly passed. Hope and I are closer than ever; consequently we fight like hell too. The closeness is good for her, and us, I guess. I know it’s good for her, but I struggle with being the sole, full time, emotional hole filler-upper. It really is exhausting, and I wish I saw a path for it to lighten up in the future.

There are still lots of developments that I desperately hope for Hope and me. I hope for:

  • Improved social interactions. The lack of being able to make and maintain healthy friendships is a drag on both of us. There are no party invites, there are no movie invites, and there are few phone calls or texts. I only recently realized just how isolated Hope really is when I observed her with some classmates.
  • The ability to be real. Hope is still “acting.” She’s like a mockingbird; she mimics her interpretation of surrounding behaviors. I say “her interpretation” because the mimicry is clear but it’s just…off in some way. Maybe it’s because in her efforts to replicate behaviors she has to one up everyone. Its makes the mimicry obvious and hollow, and it keeps her on the outskirts socially.
  • A cessation to the food theft and trash hoarding. Food security was not an apparent behavior when Hope moved in. I don’t think that it’s really the heart of the issue now. I’m starting to believe that it’s some kind of self-regulating hiccup that I don’t yet really understand.
  • A break in my own self-critical anxiety. Seriously, I’ve got to learn how to lighten up. I know I’m a good parent. I see the changes that have occurred in the last year. I know that it’s because I’ve worked my ass off. I need to be a bigger champion for me and less of a Debbie Downer.
  • An enhanced ability to manage the schedule and various tasks. Gosh, we still have so many appointments. Therapies for each of us individually and together. Band stuff. Support groups. General health appointments. I’m really getting overwhelmed by it all. The thought of camp commuting this summer is also freaking me out.

There are lots of other things I could put on this list when I sit down to mentally itemize the things I hope for; it really is overwhelming. I suppose, I wish that our normal was…I dunno…more normal, whatever that is. I want to get back to some semblance of happy. Happy hasn’t really lived with me in a while.

That’s the downside, I guess. But there are some back-slap worthy upsides that I’ve managed to cull from my memories of this last year. I think it’s important for me to make a list of things we’ve achieved (or survived depending on perspective).

  • I know Hope’s diversionary tactics well, and I can call her on them. Yes, I know all about the magic words, the “spasms” that occur in her hands, feet, temples, ears, nose and throat…Last week she pulled out her bag of tricks during a family meeting about chores. I shut her down on all of that quickly and it allowed us to get to the heart of the matter.
  • Meltdowns are so very different than they used to be. Rages are quiet now; still powerful and still house-shaking, but they are different. And I’ve become more comfortable in riding them out. If Hope wants to rage about something I think is absurd, I let her rage. I let her self-soothe and I know it will blow over. I’ve learned to not feed them the attention they desperately demand because it’s a quick way to have both of us be out of control. Girlfriend can go be mad in her room for an hour or two and rip up her important papers, throw stuffed animals, whatever, but there’s usually a clearing after the storm. I’ve learned to wait it out.
  • I have a much better sense of my limits now. I wrote about my ability to handle the gigantic problems, but be stumped and rattled by the little stuff. I know that. Hope knows it too. It doesn’t always change her behavior, but it allows me to change mine. I haven’t gotten to happy yet, but I’m on the right path.
  • I can walk away from a meltdown. This right here is powerful. It throws Hope off her game and it gives me a chance to calm down and just be. My “walk aways” also involve turning off the TVs or other noise makers, not necessarily leaving the room but finding something else in the room on which to focus my attention.
  • Despite the things that are totally my personal meltdown triggers, I am more deliberate about using my communications skills. I feel….When you… I had to do this last night.
  • I understand her self-soothing and her attention seeking behaviors. I’ve also learned when to feed those monsters. Man, Hope’s emotional age has caught up a lot in the last year, but boy when the chips are down she’s still a little kid in a teenager body. Last night after I did my “I feel…When you” and then walked away, she banged on the table and human beat-boxed for an hour. And I let her. She made a bad choice, I told her how I felt about it and what the consequences were and moved on. She made a racket to see if she could push me further. Yappy and I retreated to watch Real Housewives of New York with some of his toys. #nope #notfeedingthemonstertonight
  • I have a relationship that allows her to ask me just about anything, anytime, anywhere. Now sometimes I wish she was just go rely on Google, but I suppose there is a lot to be said about her desire to seek me out as the fount of knowledge. We’ve talked about sex (in such detail it would make porn stars blush), sexuality, gender identity, religion, politics, race…you name it, she’s probably asked. We’ve had the discussions at home, in the car, at the airport, on the train, on the bus, while sightseeing, in the middle of church…EVERYWHERE. And while I’m often annoyed by timing and location, I must have done something right if she feels that she ask me anything.

It will be interesting to see where we go and how we change during year two. Despite being down in the dumps a bit, I am hopeful that we continue to find our groove. Things will be changing this year as Elihu becomes a greater part of the picture and I’m sure there will be some drama around that. But I’m still optimistic that my little family will be ok.

About that Post-Finalization Life

On Friday, our hearing by Facetime lasted only about 6 minutes (#DougEFresh). The video seems corrupted so the event will only have to be viewed in our minds. We were sworn in, the phone was panned around so we could see this ginormous stuffed animal that will be sent to Hope. I was asked to give my government name, she was asked to give her new government name and her date of birth. Then there were hugs and tears and it was all over. I’m glad I chose to “appear;” there was something important about the ceremonial marking of the occasion. I’ve been Hope’s mom since last fall, certainly since Christmas Eve, when she first decided to call me mom.

Not appearing seemed to reduce this major event into just a paperwork thing, and it’s so much more than that.

We had barbeque and a special cake that had an obscene amount of frosting (some of which was blue and I managed to get it in my hair). We spent time with family. At times she withdrew into her electronic devices just to have a few moments to cope with being a little overwhelmed. Then she invited her young cousin to watch movies in her room. Peeping in on them snuggled together on her bed, laughing and giggling was probably the second best view of the day—the first being the judge declaring us a legal family.

Hope and I’ve laid low since finalization, just trying to soak in the begininngs of our new chapter—That Post-Placement Life. Everything leading up to those 6 minutes exhausted us. We cleaned up after the party was over, and went to bed early. We lounged by the pool on Saturday; I had a night out and Sunday was our usual routine of church.

I did summersaults inside as she filled out her church offering envelope, signing her new name. We both played it off, but it was a nice, non-verbal moment for us.

There is a peacefulness that cloaked us after those 6 minutes. I know that it may not last forever or even very long. But I know for me, this was the first weekend in 4 years when I didn’t have something school or adoption-related going on. We relished this time together.

Hope is mine, and that’s that.

And I’m hers. We got each other last Friday. That’s pretty cool.

I can only report my observations, but it seems that permanence has had an immediate effect on her. Much more patience. Calling herself “Fappy” —a combination of fat and happy. She’s laughing and laughing from her belly this week. She feels good. I can actually see this.

I’m also ‘fappy.’

Totally worth it!

Gotcha’s Eve

Tomorrow is the big day, and I’m so happy that we’ve stumbled back into a positive groove. I seem to forget that whenever we have an extended period in the car, we tend to hit an upswing. Something about our car talks…we get honest, we talk about challenging stuff, we bond, we laugh. I really need to drive Hope around more for longer periods of time.

Anyhoo, last night I hit my agency’s older child adoption support group that meets once a month. Participating in the group always puts me in an especially reflective mood. So here are some of the things I talked about or thought about or dreamt about…


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Long adoption waits sound awful, unless yours happened at breakneck speed. There are things that I struggle with when I go to support groups. I totally get the long, long waits that many families endure as they wait for a match or a placement. It sounds painful to wait for years for the dream to come true. I go to group, and I’m asked to  tell my story:

  • Sent my additional agency application January 7, 2013.
  • Finished PRIDE training at the beginning of April.
  • Full application submitted end of April.
  • Home study done in June.
  • Matching starts in mid-July.
  • Receive Hope’s profile as the first profile on July 30th.
  • Hope and I were matched on August 29th.
  • Visits in October, November and December.
  • Placement on January 22, 2014 – 1 year and 2 weeks after I initiated the process.
  • Finalizing on June 6 – 1 year and about 135 days after I started.

Jaws drop every time. Waiting families say how lucky I am. This kind of thing never happens. Yeah, I know.

The reality is that I thought it would take a much longer time, but it didn’t. I suppose the Holy Homeboy thought I was ready, even when I woefully thought I wasn’t. I’m not saying families who wait aren’t ready, but I have come to believe that their kids may not be ready for them. Hope is mine because we were both ready at the same time.

That said, the rate at which this process has occurred doesn’t feel enviable; it feels crazy overwhelming. It wasn’t supposed to be so fast, but it has been. I have no regrets, but OY! There was no honeymoon. There was not much time to get ready. There was just change at breakneck speed all the time. If you wish your process was faster, just know that it’s great to be speedy, but the grass isn’t necessarily greener.  This process is just hard, no matter how fast or how slow. I feel like I’ve had all the experiences just crammed into a shorter period of time and that has been rough.

I didn’t think my love life would exist for a very long time.  I hadn’t given up, but I just thought that whole part of my life would be put in a cryogenic state for who knows how long. Well, ha, the Holy Homebody apparently chuckled at that notion as well. Just weeks after placement and weeks before the lowest point of my whole life and of this process, He placed someone in my life for this season, and man, it’s pretty stunning and pretty awesome. And I fought him; I mean really, this was the worst time ever to meet someone and try to date, right?  But dude never flinched at the messiness that surrounds me. And I finally just gave in to it. And there is a joyfulness alongside the mayhem that this process brings that was/is completely unexpected. I smile in the midst of it all a lot more thanks to this development.

I have no idea where things might go, but it’s nice to know that there’s a life out there to be living as a new single adoptive mom.

I also recognize that the all the bravado that some of us single, independent, successful gals spout about not needing anyone to take care of us is well, right now, for me, a bunch of BS. God has seen fit to break me all the way down during these last few months to really teach me that I needed someone to show me what it’s like to be taken care of by someone who can go deep during the best and the worst of times. And you know what? I’m sold. It’s decadent to just be taken care of. Like I said, I have no idea where things might go, but these last few months will be a new gold standard.

So single adoptive moms: there’s hope on the other side.

And that’s all I have to say about that <grin>.

I was wrong in my original desires to adopt a much younger child. I originally thought I wanted that 5 or 6 year old, you know, school aged but young enough that I could “handle” them. I mean really how hard could it be to raise the little one? My agency really emphasized that with older child adoption, be open to the 10 and up crowd. After looking on websites before matching started, I realized they were probably right, so I pivoted and said 8-12ish.  Hope was at the very top of my age range, but she’s a perfect fit.

It’s taken me months to really buy into the neuroscience of trauma. Last month I really shifted my reading focus to explore issues of brain development and the impact of emotional and physical trauma to young children. Things clicked and I started understanding that many of Hope’s more annoying and challenging behaviors are really related to brain development. There just some developmental things that didn’t happen that need the support to develop. We have to backtrack a bit. She’ll get there; she just needs time and the environment to grow. My job isn’t to heal her; my job is to create the environment in which she can heal. Learning the difference opened a new well of patience and understanding.  It’s helping me grow into becoming a therapeutic parent.

Hope is old enough and developed enough to be able to try to explain why she wants/needs/demands to do some of the things she does. I realized during the last two weeks, especially, that this is a blessing by itself.

So what does this have to do with the original plans to adopt a much younger child? Well, a much younger child wouldn’t have Hope’s self-awareness. A much younger child wouldn’t have Hope’s coping skills. I don’t think a younger child would have the words to help me understand why his/her emotional upheavals were so easily triggered. The healing struggle for us both would be so much harder.  I didn’t start out with a level of patience that would work with that kind of situation.

I’m woman enough to know I couldn’t handle adopting a much younger child. Such a placement would’ve been far riskier for me, for us.

I’m glad I changed my age range, and in hindsight, I’m glad I now understand why I needed to.

I wish that I had gone to more support group meetings before placement.  Maybe someone would have told me some of the things that I now share in group. Things like how my relationships with friends and family change, how tired I would be, how I should’ve stocked up on tissues, handkerchiefs, and red solo cups for all the tears and drinking. How I should’ve started anti-depressants earlier; how I might’ve avoided the event that threatened to disrupt us. How I would go through periods of anger and resentment; how contagious trauma is, how I might cause emotional harm to some folks around me just because I was so tapped out and didn’t have the support systems I desperately needed and wanted. How I needed better plans for self-care going into my placement; how to navigate Medicaid. How it was ok to be sad and happy, to laugh and to cry, to occasionally cry in my tumbler of shiraz, while sincerely wondering how I would make it.

If I had heard these things, known that it was “normal,” known that I wasn’t alone for parts of this journey, maybe things would’ve been a tiny bit different. Or maybe my outlook might’ve been different because I knew more…I don’t know. But I do know that the support group meetings earlier on might’ve helped me in some small or big way.

I now look forward to the camaraderie that comes with sharing war stories and triumphs. I try to share what I’m learning about this journey and myself.

Individual therapy keeps me on the rails. Going to talk to a therapist is just not something that a lot of Black folks do. I’ve often heard that *that* is a White folks activity; we just don’t go around telling our business like that. Well, I write a pretty transparent blog, so maybe you’ve guessed that I’m all about being willing to go to therapy. I’ve gone to therapy off and on since I was in college. I’ve often said it is one of the most delightfully selfish, narcissistic activities I could possibly engage in—paying someone to listen to me talk about my ish for an hour every week or so. My selfish reptilian brain loves going to therapy.

I realize that the investment in myself all these years has helped me muddle through this process and these last few months, especially. I also realize that it’s time to dive back in regularly, making that time and resuming that investment (of course my therapist passively hipped me to the notion that I needed to resume regular visits by saying, “So, I’ll see you in about two weeks?”). It is the safest place on earth for me to talk uncensored about my life, other than prayer.  Now I do individual therapy for me, and I do it for Hope. She deserves my very best and there’s just some stuff that I need to work through in order to be able to always try to give her my best. It’s a process of pursuing improvement, just like everything else.

If I had to give some folks early in the process some advice, going to therapy to just give yourself some time and space to work on your own stuff would probably be it. It’s ok to be selfish when it comes to mental health and well-being. Invest in yourself. Investing in yourself is probably in your kid’s best interest.


So, it’s late. Actually it’s no longer Gotcha’s Eve; it’s past midnight. Hope will be my legal daughter in about 13 hours or so. That is so ridiculously crazy! I can’t wait. She’s been my daughter for months, but now we’re really all in. I’m ready to celebrate, even if I haven’t a clue what comes next. I just want to savor these special moments for a good long while.

Fear Still Rules the Day

Up until last evening, I wasn’t sure that we would finalize this week. We had one document that required my signature and the signature of some higher up in CPS. My attorney confirmed the date yesterday. Friday is Gotcha Day.

I told Hope last week that we would be finalizing soon. But I was nervous to tell Hope that it was happening this coming Friday. It will all be official in three short days. I just didn’t know how she would react.

I told her over dinner. She sat there stunned. Then she changed the subject and pretended like I never said anything about it.

She does this sometimes in therapy too. She was just avoidant. I decided to just let it go.

But of course it can’t be the simple. It’s never that simple.

Twenty minutes later she picked a mini-battle over a myriad of little dinner-related things. And then there’s the blow-up, followed by the stomping to the room, followed by the concert of badly sung Justin Bieber covers (done for the express purpose of annoying me), door slamming, muttering and other self-soothing behaviors.

I let her be, interrupting her only to tell her to ready herself for bed and to refill her water bottle.

She was still grumpy when I came in to tuck her in, hesitating about whether she wanted me to read her a story.

Of course she wanted a story, and I deliberately chose a longer one to read last night just to be close to her a few minutes longer.

Then when I kissed her good night, she huffed and she puffed, and she screeched at me to close her closet door. Then she bid me goodnight back.

Fear is wicked.

She’s been through this adoption thing before. It never got this far, but someone else tried to tell her that it was forever. It wasn’t. She’s been through this before. It’s terrifying to think that something awful could happen before Friday that would cancel forever. So, the best option is to try to trigger the worst possible scenario before it can happen on its own.

Finalization, for all its celebratory notions, is also a reminder of things that she doesn’t want to be reminded of: all the reasons why she even needs to be adopted at all. And that sucks. It really, really sucks. And when stuff sucks, everything around here sucks, at least or a while. It doesn’t suck quite as long as it used to, but yeah, it sucks for a while. Attitudes, short tempers, tantrums and tears, push/pull behaviors, fight picking, and sometimes, mercifully, the silent treatment. I don’t really like the silent treatment when she retreats into her own little world, but honestly of the choices, it’s the one that is easiest for me to face and for me to overcome.

And even though somewhere in there she’s happy, maybe even ecstatic, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter that I’m planning a family party. It doesn’t matter that there will be cake. It doesn’t matter that she’s been practicing signing her new name for the last week and a half. None of that really matters.

All that matters is whether Friday is really going to happen. Hell, she’s having a daily meltdown at school and having the school staff call me daily to see whether I’m really picking her up or whether I’m going to be home if she takes the bus because she swears I’m going to abandon her.

This is happening every day. She was telling me that they were making her call. When I met with the staff today to discuss how the calls were heightening her anxiety, I realized that it had nothing to do with the school at all. She just wanted to know if I was going to be there.

Right now, all that matters is whether or not Friday is really going to happen. Will Friday be the beginning of forever?

Yeah, and after it happens, the all that will matter is what happens after Friday.

It’s a new chapter, and neither of us knows what the hell we’re doing or what to expect next.

It will be fine. We will muddle through. Someday we might even thrive. Hopefully, we will do more than survive. We will be fine.

But right now, we are a slave to Hope’s fear right up until the court’s declaration. Sadly, fear will still rule the next few days. I’m praying that the chains of fear will be broken before Friday.

This is my reality of getting me and Hope to permanence, and it continues to be the other side of happy.

Adoption is not a quick fix!

As Hope and I approach finalization this week, I’m ever so mindful about the things Family of Five writes about post. Our finalization is not the end of our adoption journey or our story, just the beginning of a new chapter.

These few sentences ring like a bell in my ears:

“Adoption does not and cannot wipe away over night the emotional and physical damage caused by years of trauma and neglect. Nor does it repair brain damage, reignite cognitive brain function or even miraculously cure delays in brain development. “

Our court order and new documents making us a legal family don’t wipe the slate clean; it just a big step to achieving an important level of permanence. We still have miles before Hope feels truly safe and secure. We still have a long journey before she catches up on some developmental milestones, including and especially emotional maturity milestones. We’re better, but there’s still a ways to go.

I don’t know what the comparable stats are for US post-finalization adoption disruptions, but I know about the risks. I’ll be writing about our emotional hiccups as we head to our hearing later this week in a separate post.

Thanks Family of Five for a great post!

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