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.”
October 10, 2008
We had asked our priest and his wife to be with us when we finalized the adoption. They were anxious and happy to come with us. We arranged for Mary’s maternal grandmother to come from Florida and stay with us for a night or two so that she too could be with us when the judge hit the gavel block making it final. And so it was, the three of us, Mary’s new grand parents, her maternal grandmother, our priest and his wife trekked to the court house for the big day.
Mary was so undecided for several days over what she would wear. I wanted it to be her choice, and so I decided not to voice my opinion. She had two choices: a polka dot dress with a matching dress for her doll, or a more seasonally appropriate skirt and sweater set. In the end, she made the right choice, she chose the skirt and sweater set. It was beautiful on her. Powder blue accented with sequins on the sweater, and silver decorative stitching on the skirt. I got her opaque tights and silver shoes to wear. Yes, it was what I really wanted her to wear, and the shoes…well they helped make the choice!!
We rented a mini van to cart us all and arrived at the court house a few minutes ahead of time. Mary was her usual spunky self, bopping along with her doll clutched tightly to her chest. She was a little more shy than normal when we arrived at the courthouse. She was, I think, a little overwhelmed with what she saw there. There was a wide variety of people, with a wider variety of reasons for being there. On some faces, the stress of whatever their situation was clear. On others, the arrogance of their personality was easy to detect. Mary, I’m sure, could sense the tension that swirled around some of the people there, and reacted by pulling herself together and clinging to me for support and courage.
After a seemingly long wait, we were invited into the court room. Our friends and family were seated in the audience behind us, while we were asked to sit at a table facing the judge’s bench. Soon after, the court officer came in and leisurly sat at the other side of the table we were at. He leaned back in his chair, and in a very causal way, asked Mary if she knew why she was there. She softly answered “yes.” He ran through a series of questions: How old are you? Where do you live? What school do you go to? What grade are you in? What is your teacher’s name? He told her that the judge was going to ask her some questions. “Do you know what she is going to ask?” he said. “No.” said Mary, shyly. He ran through the same questions again. Mary smirked, as did the officer as they asked/answered the same questions again.
Shortly after, the judge came in and we went through the process of standing while she entered, and the officer recited his preface. The judge came over and sat across from us and asked Mary some of the very same questions that the officer had asked. The judge then had Mary sign a certificate offically adopting us as her parents, and legally changing our names to “Mom and Dad”. Then, the clerk read the adoption decree. The 6 most wonderful, powerful, memorable words ever were, “This adoption is final and irrevokable.” Then, the judge slid her gavel and gavel block to the center of the table. She asked Mary if she knew what those things were. Then she explained to Mary that when she hits the gavle block with her gavel, it signifies the end. She then told Mary that she was going to hit the gavel block, and then give Mary the gavel to hit the block and when Mary did it, it would mean that the adoption was final. “Are you ready?” the judge asked with a smile. “Yee-hes” said Mary with a nervous laugh. The judge hit the gavel block and handed the gavel to Mary. “SMACK” went wood against wood. It was done.