The adoption courtroom.
If you’ve been there, you know this is a room flooded with emotions.
Perhaps, also flooded with a ton of family and friends who have been journeying with your family through the process.
Joy and pure jubilee often come with the celebration of a family coming together through adoption. Knowing a child will forever have a place to call home and a group of loving individuals to call family is an incredible thing.
I know for many families a sense of relief is also relished.
After all, adoptions take a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of energy!
And they are so worth it!
We have had the joy of adopting two sweet boys in our time of being foster parents.
Each with their own personality.
Each with their own gifts and talents.
Each with their own story.
Each with their own history.
And not one piece of who they were before they came to us, though they were itty bitty, is lost on me.
We never set out to adopt when we became foster parents.
Honestly, we were in the midst of the taxing roller coaster of all that is infertility. Though we had been trying for a baby for over a year, we were still certain it would happen any month. We took the licensing process in baby steps. We literally re-evaluated every week after our PSMAPP classes to decide if we should attend the next week’s class, and if foster care was right for us. We figured, at the very least, we can provide a safe and loving home for a child while we await a pregnancy of our own. But, we wanted to be very careful that we didn’t let our longing for a baby make us lose sight of the goal of foster care, which is reunification and healing in a family.
Which doesn’t always happen.
I will never forget the last court hearings that occurred before each adoption.
In one instance, many families members were sporadically woven into our son’s foster care journey, all of which only came around once, and many of whom were deemed unfit and unsafe for him. We saw an entire family caught in the tragic cycle of abuse, addiction and pain.
In another instance, our son had been in care for what seemed like forever with ZERO family contact or involvement. At that very last court hearing, when the motion for termination of parental rights was granted, his birth mother was also sitting in that room. Wanting her son, but knowing she couldn’t take him, she was very quiet. She was hesitant to sign away her rights. But, I choose to believe she did it to protect him from the life she herself probably didn’t want to live. After she walked out of the courtroom, and the judge carried on with the hearing, and I wept. I struggled to keep it together. I was in shock of what had just happened. I was relieved to be on this side of the process, but I also felt incredible pain for what that woman just walked away from, and how the choice of permanency for her son outside of her home was going to effect her over the next few hours, days and months.
The adoption courtroom filled my soul with all of those incredible emotions.
I cried tears of joy knowing that these precious babies we had cared for and loved, these souls who had snuggled their way so deeply into our hearts were going to be given our last name and forever be our children.
I cried tears of relief knowing we could have a moment of piece from foster care. We were finally being given a break after months and months… and months… of uncertainty – the ups and downs, the what-ifs and maybes.
While we sat in a room of friends and family filled with excitement, I was also crying tears of sorrow.
As the judge, lawyers, and case manager went on with their everyday work, speaking words of a child coming from a broken situation and entering into a lifelong family…
I cried tears of grief.
The same tears I cried during each severance trial when the final order of termination was granted.
The judge spoke the words reminiscing of their birth names, birth dates and to whom they originally belonged. Hearing the words of their permanent placement and new names made me think about their birth mamas.
As a woman who had stepped into the role of being “Mommy” only for the time-being and feeling a sense of relief knowing from that day forward they weren’t leaving, they weren’t going to be taken from us, also grieved my heart for what their mamas must be feeling.
Up until that day in the adoption courtroom, each boy belonged to a mother who carried her baby for months, labored through birth, and kissed her little miracle hello and goodbye with the same touch. A mother saw that sweet face for both the first and the last time, not knowing where he would go, or what would happen to him after that moment. That mother journeyed through postpartum recovery physically, mentally, and emotionally, without a baby in her arms to show for all those scars, further darkening their world.
When a baby is placed in foster care, it is obvious that for whatever reason that baby cannot be cared for by their family.
I have had my own rounds of anger and resentment for what our children endured before we met, for what was done to an innocent child who had no control of their situation.
But, let’s not forget that each member of the foster care process incurs hurt and pain. There are addictions and demons that parent is fighting, or even worse, openly letting take over their life. Being a person who coexists in a broken world, I know people don’t enter into the dark life of drug use, delinquency, abuse or prostitution because life is peachy and with a fairy-tale ending. Perhaps one bad choice led them down a destructive path. Perhaps they have their own traumas that were never dealt with. Perhaps they are caught in a generational cycle of abusive relationships and this was the life they were taught.
Tears streamed down my face as I held a boy whose birth mother would never see her baby again.
I shared a deep love for a child with another woman, just in a very different way.
That pain is not something I will ever fully understand, but it’s a pain that I will never forget exists.
It’s a pain that my children might someday also question and deeply struggle to understand and process.
And if you adopted older children, confusion, anger and resentment might also share a space.
Because this is adoption.
The good and the bad.
Both the beautiful and the ugly reside in that adoption courtroom.
None the less, on each of my children’s adoption days, I also cried tears of honor as their chosen forever mom.
I cried tears aware of what an incredible privilege and responsibility it is to be their mama.
A journey was just beginning for our family, that only God could have orchestrated our paths to cross in such a complex and beautiful way.
We never set out to adopt when we became foster parents.
Yet, we were immensely blessed through adoption.