I opened my eyes, and rolled over to see the clock. 6:00. I closed my eyes and listened for the rustling through the monitor. Nothing. Eva had been clockwork for weeks. No matter what time she went to bed, it would be a six am rise (except for teething days, then all bets are off). What was wrong? Would she wake up sick, or in pain?
The rustling starts. I open my eyes again, and look. 6:02. In two minutes I had fallen back asleep, dreamt about knocking over shelves of VHS tapes, and thought that 20 minutes had past. It’s amazing how you can wait for months and months for a certain day to arrive, and when it gets here, you just want a few minutes more to sleep. None the less, I got up and went in her room. She looked up to me. She then unleashes the biggest smile, and with that she tells me “there’s nothing to worry about. Today is a happy day!”
Our court date was set for ten in the morning, so we have to coordinate 4 showers, 1 bath, 4 breakfasts, 1 bottle. We need to be there ten minutes early, but we’re planning on 30 minutes. No way we miss this.
I flip on Good Morning America and the first story, a breaking story, is the train derailment in Ohio. I immediately begin thinking how this is going to affect us, then realize it’s in Columbus, so no worries. To many of our friends and family outside of Ohio, this is one of the things they ask us about.
With everyone bathed and fed, we hit the road to Xenia. Xenia* calls itself “The Bicycle Capital of the Midwest”, but the rest of the metro area calls it “The Place Where Tornados Hit”. I had been to the courthouse once before. I was called for jury duty a couple of years earlier, but was not selected. In fact, I was passed over. It stills drives me a little nuts that I don’t know if it was the prosecutor or the defense that made that choice.
* Another notable fact, Xenia is the only city in the US that starts with ‘X’ and has more than 5,000 people
Even though we’d been through Xenia a number of times, our ability to accurately figure out how much time we need was broken this day. We arrived a full 45 minutes early. However, this ended up being a blessing, as it gave us time to feed Eva in the car beforehand. Her second bottle is normally at 10am, the same time as the proceedings. If we didn’t feed her early, she might get fussy during the proceedings, aw who am I kidding, she’d definitely get fussy. Now she’ll be content.
We walk into the court house, and I carry Eva through her first metal detector. Turns out that her legs are all natural, and not metal Go Go Gadget legs. I’m still at a loss figuring out how she grows so fast.
We sit on a bench waiting for our lawyer and the representative from our adoption agency. They both arrive at the same time. There’s some commotion though. The security guard steps out from behind the table, and they are talking and looking around. So begins “The Case of the Missing Cufflink”.
We walk into the court room. Our lawyer tells us what’s going on. He had a couple of cufflinks in his pocket, had forgot about them, and somehow lost one while going through security. As he’s telling us about this, our agency rep comes in, looks down at our lawyer and says “There it is!” It had fallen into his pants cuff. So ends “The Case of the Missing Cufflink”. I’ll be finishing the novel this summer and am taking bids for movie rights.
Our lawyer then explains the upcoming proceedings, what to expect, and asks if we have any questions. Our petition to adopt Eva had been on the judge’s desk for two months now, so he’s had time to review it, so the court time should be quick. There were no objections, and we felt confident. We had no questions. Then our agency rep spoke up:
“Well, there’s the elephant in the room…”
Elephant in the room??!!! What did we miss? Did we make her mad? Was there a potential father we didn’t know about? Did someone have concerns about our parenting ability? What is it?
“when will you guys adopt again?”
Whew. Nothing bad.
Let’s get this one finished first. Then we can talk about it…later.
The judge enters the room. He introduces himself to everyone in the room. He goes up to the front, and starts the proceedings. This is our first court date. We don’t know what to expect. Would he ask a bunch of questions? What if he asks the hardest of questions, the one that has no right answer.
Why do you want to be a parent? or Why do you want to adopt?
He proceeds by explaining what he is judging on, and what the facts are. We are here to officially adopt Eva. The birthparents have surrendered their rights, and there are no outstanding issues. The home study, and subsequent inspections by the social worker have shown that we are fit parents.
He then explains our responsibilities. We are responsible for her well-being now, which means health, both mental and physical, her education, providing a home, etc. We are to love her.
He then tells us that we are, in his eyes, fit to be her parents, as he can see with his own eyes how well Eva is doing, how much she loves us, and how much we love her. He signs the adoption decree.
Just like that, Eva is now ours. Forever.
The moments in life that mean the most are rarely met with the sounds of trumpets and parades. The moment you met your spouse. The moment your puppy chose the warmth of you over anything else. The moment your daughter first smiled at you. So to with this moment. With the simple signature on a sheet of paper, our process was complete. No one, save God himself, will come between us now.
While the process is complete, the journey continues. We may officially be a family, but a family is not defined by just paper. A family is defined by the bonds they build, and the love they make. The adoption may be complete, but there is still much to do. To show her that our love is the same as any other families. To keep and build that positive relationship with her birthparents.
Our judge stayed around for a little bit to let us take pictures. He holds our beautiful daughter, and is happy for us and especially her at this moment. How wonderful it must be for him to be able to rule on these types of cases where his day is probably filled with sniping ex partners, menial property disputes and other downright sad cases. Here we have two parties, both wanting the same thing, the joyous creation of a family.
Not all was sunshine and lollypops though. The judge told us this during the proceedings.
“You will provide her with a great home to grow up in. In fact, your home may be so wonderful that she will stay until she’s 25 or 30”.
Steph also suffered an injury during court. Eva, in one of her “I love you so much I just want to grab your face” moments, grabbed Steph’s face and punctured the skin. I looked over and there was a glob of blood from the wound. Steph had no idea, she was so engaged in what the judge had to say.
After pictures, and hugs from everybody, we hit the road for lunch. I flipped the radio to Sinatra and “Fairy Tale” was playing. Frank summed the day up in one line :
“The magic day that you were mine”