A lot has happened since my last post! Miles’ adoption was officially finalized on March 5th, 2015. We didn’t actually know until the end of the month, though — can you believe no one told us? There was no court date and no appearance, which was a bit anti-climactic. It was just a judge signing some papers. And our attorney failed to tell us when the papers had actually been signed. This was really surprising because he was so great, and an adoptive father himself. I would have assumed he knew how important it was to us. Anyway, the adoption is now official in the eyes of the law (even though it has been final in our eyes since the moment we held our sweet boy) and we couldn’t be happier.
I had been saving this video to share when we announced our finalization (didn’t think it would take this long!). A wonderful local photographer created this film for us and we think it’s a super sweet memento of our first year together. Miles has brought us such joy and I can’t imagine our lives without him. I thank my lucky stars every day for the tremendous honor and privilege of raising this cuddly, sweet, smiling baby boy.
Miles is 10 months old today! It’s so hard to believe that much time has gone by. It’s also hard now to remember a time when he wasn’t with us.
I just love this little kid. He really is turning into a little kid. He got his first tooth this week, and there’s already another on the way. And it’s official: he’s a total mama’s boy. He has become my little cling-on and wants to be on my hip at all times. So I’ve learned to vacuum, cook, clean, and even sometimes work with a rather large baby in my arms. My biceps are always burning, but I wouldn’t have it any other way – I love it!
Our agency in Texas finally signed the consent to adopt (yay!) so that means that our attorney in Virginia can petition the court for finalization. After that, our Virginia agency will write a final report and then the court will say that we are officially a forever family. I guess we won’t be going into court to make an appearance. Here, I think your attorney just calls and tells you that it’s official. Kind of anticlimactic. I was picturing a day in court with a jolly old judge and tears and hugs and photos and the whole shebang. Oh well, we will just have to think of another way to mark the occasion!
I can’t believe that I haven’t written a post in more than a month. What a slacker! I could tell you I’ve been busy as can be and that would be true, but I think there’s more truth in the fact that I just don’t want to put my baby boy down. Like, ever. He’s so snuggly and he gives the best hugs now. He’s such a love bug. If I’m going to continue writing this blog, though, I know I have to get better about managing my time. So, today I thought I’d tell you how our journey as a transracial adoptive family is going so far, and how other people are reacting to our family.
In a nutshell: it has been wonderful.
Sometimes I look at Miles and honestly forget that he hasn’t just always been here, and that he isn’t biologically related to me. He’s just my son and that’s that. I’m aware that our skin doesn’t match but while we don’t match, we do coordinate. I mean, black and white is the quintessential color combination, right? Kidding aside, being a black and white family has already enriched our lives in so many ways.
When we were waiting to be matched with a birthmother, I read a lot of blog posts and articles about adoption. A common concern of hopeful adoptive parents seemed to be whether or not they would be able to love their adopted child like they would a biological child. A lot of people wondered whether they could/would feel a bond with an adopted child. That thought never crossed my mind, though. I was worried, instead, about the reverse.
What if we gave him or her all of our love and he just didn’t care back? What if our baby looked at us like we were total strangers and never warmed up to us? What if he was just so distraught because he suffered the “primal wound” of being separated from his biological mother that no matter how much love I gave him he never healed?
Unrequited love was the secret worry I had.
People who don’t understand adoption assume that once you bring the baby home, the adoption is complete. But domestic adoption doesn’t work that way. Depending on where the adoptive parents or birth parents live, and those particular state’s laws, adoptive parents only have what is called “legal-risk placement” of the baby for the first six months. Essentially, the baby is not officially or legally part of your family yet, but rather, is “placed” with you pending legalities and more paperwork. Just when you think you’re done with filling out forms, there are more!
Because Miles was born in Texas, his birthmother was able to voluntarily and irrevocably relinquish her rights 48 hours after he was born. So, thankfully, we haven’t had to worry about her changing her mind about the adoption. (I don’t think I could have handled that particular stress for six months.) But the agency we worked with then became the legal guardian of Miles–not us–and said agency then “placed” him with us for six months until the required amount of time and post-placement visits with social workers have been completed and we can finalize the adoption.
I guess it’s like a trial period, designed to ensure that we aren’t totally inept at this parenthood thing. The time when birth parents can officially relinquish rights varies from state to state, but to my knowledge most states have the 6-month waiting period before finalization.
I will always remember our little yellow cottage in Texas fondly. It was a pretty great place to live for a couple of weeks, and we enjoyed our time there as much as possible.
Jamie’s birthday came and went–we celebrated with take-out Italian and a cake I made, and witnessed an absolutely incredible lightning storm that made the night feel like the 4th of July. We were having fun with Miles, taking him on walks and getting to know our sweet little baby. But the minute we heard that we were approved to go home, we jumped in the car and left as fast as we could. Truth be told, we were already packed up and at the gas station, with the car pointed towards home, when we got the call. (We were expecting it.)
We were ecstatic to (finally!!) be leaving, but we were also slightly terrified of the 19-hour road trip that lie ahead. Jamie and I and the dogs have traveled across the country together and the four of us are used to long road trips. But adding an infant to the mix would surely shake things up. Not to mention we were starting the trip exhausted from newborn-baby quality sleep. Miles had to eat every two hours. And each feeding took about a half an hour. And then there were the painful gas episodes he had at night that left him crying and/or screaming. What would that be like in the car?
I want to start this post by saying that our adoption experience has been so easy and smooth compared to many I’ve heard. In the grand scheme of things, everything that mattered went very, very well. We hit it off with Miles’ birthmother and immediately felt a great connection to her, and she was resolute in her decision that we were the best parents for Miles.
We bonded immediately with Miles–we felt right away that he was our son. And he came home with us. So, really, that is all that matters and we know how incredibly fortunate we are. Every day I thank the universe for bringing such joy into our lives. I love this little boy more than I ever dreamed possible.
Our adoption experience has been wonderful and we have been so very blessed.
But the process side of it was not all unicorns and rainbows–we had some issues with the Texas agency we were assigned. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that it all happened very quickly. We were chosen, matched, and then Miles was born two days later. It was a whirlwind and it happened over a weekend and I know there wasn’t a lot of time for the adoption center we had been working with all along to educate us on what was happening. But at times we really felt like we were flying blind.
I think if we had time to research adoption law in Texas, things would have been easier. If I had time to research agencies, read reviews, and talk to other people who have adopted from Texas, we could have made an informed choice on agencies. But we didn’t have time for any of that.