She’s Adopted!

The judge shaking Daffy’s hand after the adoption

The past 6 weeks have been a blur. Rather than documenting them, I spent my time living them. There is a part of me that regrets that because I know many details will be lost before I can share them here, but at the same time, there is another part of me that enjoyed the break. There was no pressure to look for deeper meanings and no pressure to find the silver lining in any of the things (many painful) our family experienced.

With that out of the way, I am thrilled to share that DAFFY IS OFFICIALLY ADOPTED!

As I posted before, Daffy chose 10/11/12 as her adoption date. Although the adoption was scheduled for 2:30pm, I needed to attend a meeting and a hearing at the courthouse for Donald ahead of the adoption. We left home around noon, with Daffy dressed in a gown from Tiffany & Co given to her by her former foster family (Woody, Jessie & Buzz). She was a perfect angel as we made the hour trip to the courthouse. When we arrived her and Goofy found some chairs by a window and sat down to play with their electronics. Once I finished the meetings, I expected complete mayhem but came out to find she was sitting as peaceful and calm as when I had gone in. Weird…. yet wonderful!

It was a reunion of sorts as we waited for everyone to arrive and be called into the courtroom. One of the staff from the group home Daffy lived at (pre-adoption) came. The group home had also told her Godparents about the adoption and they came with their daughter. There was a slew of social workers and case workers from the past 9 months on Daffy’s case. FINALLY, the bailiff called us into the courtroom… we filled every chair and then some! The judge started with introductions and then asked Mickey and I a series of questions to be sure we understood the legal implications of adopting Daffy. The judge asked Daffy if she wanted to be adopted and, of course, she said yes.The judge then confirmed the name Daffy had chosen, spelling it to confirm it was correct. In retrospect, I wish that we had to SIGN something in the court room, but all the paperwork had been signed over the summer at our kitchen table and was simply awaiting the judges signature… which she happily provided. That was it… the official end of the hearing. The judge then called Daffy up to sit in her chair and let her choose a stuffed animal from her special “adoption drawer.” Our family went up for group photos with the judge and then the judge called Daffy into her chambers…. she wanted to show Daffy that she had hung the drawing Daffy had given her in July right on her wall! Daffy was really pleased to see that! I could tell that made her feel special!

Once the photo opps with the judge ended, we went back into the lobby where Daffy opened a few gifts and cards and then headed outside for more photos with all the people who had attended. Everyone was full of congratulations for us and lots & lots of hugs!

Our family (& a close family friend) went for dinner at Olive Garden and feasted to our heart’s content! It was at the end of the meal that Daffy got to write her full name (including new middle and last names) for the very first time…. right on her take out box! lol

By the time we got home, it was already Daffy’s bedtime, especially considering it was a school night. Of course, we made time for one of our famous chats.

I will share more about the adoption celebration party in another post soon….

Review Hearing | We Set An Adoption Date!

This afternoon we had our quarterly review hearing with the court. We had requested that Daffy be able to go and meet the judge (for the very first time!). We picked her up from school and made the hour drive to the court house. On the way, I explained the importance of standing when the judge speaks to you and when you speak, as well as referring to her as “Your Honor”… she thought that was pretty silly, but did accept it once I compared it to the title of Doctor, Chef or even Mom, LOL

Daffy seemed pretty comfortable when we arrived. Obviously she recognized many of the people from the team right away and began chatting with them about her summer and the recent sleepover with the former foster family. Once we were called into the court, she became quiet as a mouse. The judge began by asking all of us to state our names. (I am always so proud, when I add “Pre-adoptive Mom” to my name!) She then spoke directly to Daffy to welcome her and  asked the state & GAL if there were any updates since their written reports submitted in the past couple weeks. The state updated about the consult saying that the recommendations were in line with what the team had been thinking and that all indications were that Daffy should be adopted.

The judge then started to ask Daffy some questions but was not able to hear her quiet little tiny voice (one I have never heard since she has been with us, LOL) so the judge asked if it would be okay if she came closer. The judge sat in a chair near Daffy and chatted with her about her summer and her hamster and other little things. Then, she asked the question we were all waiting for…. whether or not she wanted to be adopted and when! Daffy said she wanted to be adopted on 10/11/12. The judge talked to the clerk (or whomever was that lady taking notes in the room, lol) and determined the date was available and at that exact moment, Daffy’s adoption was put into the schedule!!! I could feel my eyes filling with tears. Months of waiting for us, months of challenges for everyone and a lifetime of struggles for Daffy had all been leading up to this. This one day will change things forever! Oh, I know that Daffy’s isn’t going to wake up the next day and be a perfect angel…. heck, I am not going to become the perfect parent either…. but this day will be a defining moment in Daffy’s life and ours! She will officially and legally become our DAUGHTER! (Just typing that word brings more tears to my eyes!) I am so very much in love with this little girl and will spend my life working to repair the damage that has been done to her over the past 9.5 years. She will finally belong, something she has needed and craved for a very long time. We are so blessed to be the ones to be able to provide that permanent security to her.

I am so grateful for all of the people who made this possible. From our newest case worker and our social worker, to our friends & family and the many people who have supported me on this blog and on Twitter…. I can’t possibly thank you enough. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I know that’s true. I also know I have the very best village a girl could ask for. So, thank you all for helping us to get to this point in the process! We look forward to celebrating with all of you in October! 🙂

My Adoption Story, Part II: The Search

This is the second in a multi-part series of posts sharing my personal adoption story. If you haven’t already, read My Adoption Story, Part I: My Adoption before reading the post below. 

Shortly after I turned 18, my aunt and I went to the Catholic Charities office where I had been adopted. We requested help to locate my biological mother but were told that the records were sealed. The nun we spoke with told me that I could write a letter to my birth mother and she would add it to the file. If my birth mother also happened to write a letter in search of me, it would be added to the file. If someone happened to notice that we both had written letters and wanted to find eachother, they would offer assistance at that time to facilitate a reunion. We asked for medical information and were given very little “non-identifying” information. Included was the fact that my biological father had also signed off on the adoption, was Irish and was 5’5″ tall. It seems odd now that I remember only the information provided that day about my biological father, but don’t recall any of what was said about my biological mother. I think maybe that is because that was the first day I had given more than a fleeting thought to the fact that biologically I had 2 parents, not just the one that had given birth to me.

My aunt and I left feeling discouraged. Oddly, I remember that we went to Burger King and she ordered a kids meal because she said that was all she could eat. I remember that we tried to brainstorm ways to get more information but knew that it would be futile, so we let it drop.

Being an adoptee remained a critical part of who I was into my adulthood. If asked to describe myself, that was always a descriptor. I continued to look at my face in the mirror, wondering who I looked like.

Four years later, and just before I was to be married to Mickey in 1996, I was waitressing. I remember a couple at one of my tables telling me that I looked just like their neighbor. This wasn’t the first time I had been told I looked like someone and my heart fluttered wondering if it was possible that we could be related. I commented back that it was possible that I was related because I was an adoptee. I remember the shocked look on their faces as they shared that this man had given up a child for adoption. I felt certain that I had finally made the connection I needed to locate where I had come from. In time, though, we were able to rule out that I was related to this random neighbor and I was left disappointed again.

Shortly after Goofy was born in 1997, he became very ill. He was hospitalized for 5 days for an unexplained high fever. He had a spinal tap and numerous other tests run to determine the cause. The doctors were never able to determine what had been the cause and this reopened my desire to search for my biological roots. I reasoned that it was possible that every single family member had died of some rare illness that could be preventable if we only knew far enough in advance.

Within a couple of weeks after Goofy was discharged from the hospital, a friend of mine had agreed to go to the court where my adoption had been finalized to see if we could get the records opened. On a sunny Friday morning, we made the hour trip together to the court house. I spoke with a clerk and explained what had happened with my son and let her know that I was looking to have my records opened to search for my  biological family to get updated medical information. She sent me along to another woman who said she would go speak to the judge. I waited nervously. The mood in a courthouse is quite somber and I really didn’t know what to expect. After what seemed to be an eternity, the woman came back and said “Well, I dont know how much help this will be as the medical information is quite old” and she handed me a stack of photocopied papers. My friend, Jen, and I sat down at one of the legal desks in the hallway and began to browse through the records. One of the first things that caught my attention was a birth certificate. The name listed was not my name… and then slowly I started to connect the dots. This was my ORIGINAL birth certificate. It took me only but a minute to realize that either the clerk had made a terrible mistake in copying the entire file for me or that she had done me the biggest favor of my life. In either case, Jen & I made a MAD DASH for the exit knowing we had just what we needed to begin the search.

As she drove away like a criminal fleeing a bank robbery, I continued to look through the files. The birth certificate contained my birth mothers FULL NAME. I knew that she had likely married (and  statistically that she had potentially even divorced). At the time, we didn’t even own our first computer. The internet was a novelty at this point and not the incredible tool it has become today. Where would we begin this search?

Being the good detectives that we were, we decided to start at the city hall where she had lived. We knew that she hadn’t been married at the time I was born, so that gave us a starting point. We requested her marriage license, giving her name and the approximate years. Low & behold, the clerk at the city hall handed over a marriage license! We were stunned. Could it REALLY be this easy??

We spotted a diner nearby and  decided to grab breakfast and plan our next move. We decided the next logical step was to locate a phone number for her using her new married name. We knew there was a chance she was divorced, but were not sure how to track down the next piece of information. We headed to my aunt’s house and were easily able to locate a number for the man my birth mother had married. His last name was quite unique and there were only 3 of them listed in the entire country! I remember being really nervous as I dialed the number. A man answered and I asked for her by name. He replied “There is no one here by that name” and hung up. I was crushed. I had slammed head on into another road block!

Things had stalled but I was determined NOT to give up. I spent the weekend calling everyone in the phone book (remember those crazy yellow things?) with her maiden last name in the area where she grew up hoping that I would find someone who would be able to connect me to her. During each call I explained my story and who I was looking for and why, but sadly no one was able to help.

On Tuesday, as I reviewed the paperwork for what felt like the 40 millionth time since I had received it on Friday, I noticed that my birth mother’s parents names had been listed on one of the documents.  I reasoned that the older generation had a lower incidence of divorce. Was it possible that THEY were still married and had a listed phone number? I raced back to my aunt’s house to search for them online. Low and behold, they were listed together living just 50 miles north of where we were living. I held my breath and wrote down the number. Was this my golden ticket?

I came home and dialed the number while standing in the bathroom (for privacy). No answer. I did not leave a voicemail. I called back every hour that day until finally in the late afternoon, a woman answered the phone. I stated “My name is Minnie. I was born October 12, 1973 and I was given up for adoption.” I paused and she practically screamed “Oh my God! I always knew this day would come!”

Continue reading My Adoption Story in this post: Part III: The Reunion!