Signing the Adoption Papers
It’s a Tuesday, and I’m driving past the Child Protective Services (CPS) office a few towns over. Getting close to this place always makes my heart beat a little faster, and I will myself to feel calm. Today, I am not stopping. I am not dropping the child in my backseat with a person wearing a badge, trying not to cling to him as he holds fast to me when taken from my arms.
This Tuesday is a good Tuesday. I’m on my way to sign the last of the forms needed to finalize the adoption of my son. The day we finalize, he will have been in our care 635 days. It’s been a long road, and there’s years of healing left to do.
The first struggle was keeping this baby safe, giving him a hope and a future. We’ve accomplished that goal with the help of lawyers and the legal system. We’ve removed as many landmines from the road he will travel as possible.
The next battle is my own. I must, for the sake of my son, come to peace with his story. The story he had before he came to me. His time in the womb was not a time of shelter. It was a time of danger, and of poison, and of violence. I know that, for my son’s sake, I must come to some as-of-yet nameless place with the person who carried him into this world. I must be able to speak of her and feel no anger, only compassion, if not love.
I also have to find the balancing point in my son’s relationship with his birth father. How much is too much? How often is reasonable to send pictures? For phone calls? I’m not able to be objective about this. We are not angry with this young man. He too, was a victim of a terrible storm, sucked into a vacuum. But there are answers I just don’t have.
I joke that I have foster care PTSD, but there is some truth to this. Every time my son’s birth father calls, every time an unknown number comes up on my phone, my heart beats faster. I go immediately into fight or flight mode. It makes no sense, my son is my own, I call the shots now. I pray for the fear to fall away.
I feel, that since my son’s birth father is still having daily contact with the woman who gave birth to my son, that he should be removed from our lives. It is as if this woman carries a fatal disease, and I want to protect my family from any possible contagion. My husband disagrees. He finds him harmless. We argue.
I was the one who carried our boy into all those weekly meetings at CPS, who felt him hold so tightly to me, and heard him wail, as I handed him to a person who was a mother in name only. I was the one who prepared for trial, who was in the front lines. I am still tainted by the dust from the fight. I am just now able to stand, shaken and wobbly, and walk into the future with some measure of confidence.
Since there is no manual for foster parents on how to grieve the things your child lost before you even met him, before he was born, I am stumbling along. I don’t know how long it takes, but maybe it will take a lifetime to come to terms with what we’ve been through, all of us.
For now, I am hoping that my intent to continue doing the best I can with what I have is enough. I am blindly feeling my way, wanting to make each step the right one for my new son. I know from past experiences that time does indeed make everything better. I trust I will be shown the way. I might falter. However, I know now that I will get back up, and keep moving.
As I pull up to my lawyer’s office, and see the gap-toothed grin in my backseat, I am reminded of all that is good in life. Throughout our battle, we’ve been given so many blessings. The greatest of which is the reminder to take each small moment and cherish the miracle within it. The miracle of a good Tuesday is one I will never, ever take for granted again.
Author’s Note: We adopted our son, who we call “Sugar Biscuit” on National Adoption Day in November 2012.
About the Author: Sarah Green is a wife and biological mother of three, adoptive mom to one, and a foster mom currently on hiatus. She is currently working on a book about the realities of foster care. As an advocate for foster youth, Sarah devotes her spare time to educating others about the system. Read more about her daily life at tumblewieds.tumblr.com.
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