On our flight to Florida, Mary looked at me and said, “Thank you for taking me to Disney World!” Her smile melted my heart yet again.
We had expected that by the end of June the adoption would be final, but it was the end of July and we had no more a clue as to when it would be final then when we left court following the TPR (termination of parental rights…not something I like to say, or write.)
Phone call after phone call, the answer was the same: still waiting for the documentation to come from the court. The final decree of the TPR had to go from the court to the DSS area office where the case workers sat. I kept thinking, I could just call the court myself and make it move along faster than this!
Summer slowly turned to fall, and school started. The adoption case worker had agreed to let Mary start school using our last name in the classroom, avoiding another transition for her. We had told her that she would have our name by the time she started second grade, and we were determined to make that happen. I felt there was nothing worse in the world then for her to have to explian over and over why she had a new name. And so she did. Her nametags arrived in the mail, (the teacher has the children wear nametags for the first 3 days of school) with the wrong last name. Off to school I went, the day before classes started, to get new ones with our last name. Mary’s name tag was hand written, all the other children’s were printed from the computer. I wondered if they would notice. I wanted so much for her to just be like all the other children in her class. Driving home, I reconciled that. She’s not like all the other children. The more I try and erase the first 6 years of her life, the more noticible it becomes that there was something there that is now smeared over. I allowed myslef to give it to God; to let Him be the one who erases…or not…the ugly times. It wasn’t/isn’t my job to do that. My job is to make sure that the following years of the rest of her life are better than the first 6. So with a new sense of purpose I drove home with name tags that displayed exactly what God wanted the world, albeit 18 secnod graders, to see.
September was quickly winding to a close and we still had no word on finalization. Then one after noon I got an e-mail from my husband. It was disturbing, insighting, frustrating. He told me that he had spoken with the adoption case worker who informed him that she would be retiring in mid October, and that as of yet she had not heard. She said she had requested a date for finalization that was before her last day, but she hadn’t been given a date yet and she thought that it would most likely be after National Adoption Day in November, but possibly into December. Part of me wanted to cry. A bigger part of me wanted to call her. So I did. I pushed. I pleaded. I asked for a phone log of who she had called, when she called and the outcome. I became a mom advocating for her child and for her family. I didn’t yell, I didn’t threaten, I didn’t loose my temper. But she knew all of those things were just under the surface.
I got another e-mail from my husband the next day. I opened it and quickly my eyes fell to the words “We have a date. October 10” That was all I needed to see. It was a mere 9 days away! We decided to take Mary out to dinner to tell her. She had been asking and asking and all I could do was tell her soon. But this time I could tell her the date.
We went to Applebee’s. It’s not far from us, and it works for a week night out. As we sat waiting for our food to be delivered, we decided to tell her. “Remember you asked me when you would be adopted?” I asked. She answered without looking up. “Yes.” “Well,” I said, “we have a date now.” Her eyes darted up at me. “When?” she asked, with a sparkle starting to form. “In 9 days. A week from this Friday!” Her mouth dropped open and she froze for a split second. “Cool.” Cool…was that it? Was that all I was going to get? Cool???? My heart was bursting with joy and all she can say is cool? So a few moments later I snatched an opportunity and asked her, “You know what that means?” She looked up at me again and asked “what?” and then went back to playing Cats in the Cradle. I said, “It means forever” with a big smile on my face. She abruptly looked up at me and with a very surprised look on her face she said “No, Mom. Remember you said my mom and dad can’t take care of me for now.”