Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finalization---Before and After


 Almost eight months ago, we brought baby Miriam home.  We were happy and excited---and in love---but uncertainty about the future of our family circled us---and the tiny baby who woke up every few hours for feedings and cuddles---she wasn't the only thing that caused us some sleepless nights, or in a manner of speaking, I suppose she was.  Would she be here today only to be gone tomorrow?  And at the same time that we loved, we grieved. We grieved for what was---and we grieved for what could be.  Adoption is born of brokenness---of heartbreak.  C's heart was broken---while our hearts were filled to bursting.  We contemplated the sacrifice.....and at the same time we recognized the possibility that it would be undone---and that baby Miriam would go into foster care---or be placed with a completely different family. (Our adoption experience is not by any means indicative of all adoption experiences, there were many atypical factors which brought about these possibilities---though still---I'm not certain there is a "norm" in these situations)  Stuart sat in the recliner holding a tiny bundle whose arms stretched out towards his face----unable to maintain the boundaries between the face he wished to present---and the face which represented him.  And in that moment lay both my undoing---and my strength.  Peace beyond understanding.....those words had new meaning.  Sometimes God gives you a peace that isn't of your own manufacturing......I don't know---maybe this is a foolish thing to say since probably any peace---anything good---it's never of our own manufacturing.  It's always from God.  It's just---at that fork in the road----this truth was more apparent to me than ever before.  I knew that any peace we enjoyed in the midst of not knowing......I knew it wasn't really ours---it was on loan---it was a gift that we couldn't have given to ourselves.  And on top of that peace--I think we gained a few drops of understanding in this time of "before:"

I think we learned something about the nature of love-----the people we love aren't on this sliding scale when it comes to their importance.  It isn't as if---the longer you love someone, the more they matter.  We couldn't have loved Miriam more in that moment----and there was no certainty----there was no timeframe set for how long she would be with us.  And love abounded just the same.  Love may be the only thing that doesn't diminish as it is given....even when it is given in uncertainty---God gave us a unique gift when He gave us the ability to love---because it only increases exponentially as it is given away---even if the object of our affection may not stay on our horizon for more than a blink.

 And we came to understand that we don't control anything.  God is in control---and God will provide.  Perhaps it's easy to say that God is good all the time now, on the other side of the rainbow, so to speak.....but I found that I believed it then too---with the forecast of tomorrow's day hidden and unknowable----I knew that God was good.  I knew that God would be good even if things had turned out dramatically different.  God works for the good---the good we can see and understand----as well as the good that we can't.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."  Isaiah 55:8


We finalized our adoption on Monday, April 30 at 9:00 am at the Shelby County Courthouse.  It's a funny thing---because nothing has changed really---and yet simultaneously everything has changed.  The courts officially recognize that Miriam is our child---"as if she were born to you--"---that's the terminology that was used.  In other words---no one can take her away now.  We don't have to prove to anyone anymore that we are the right parents for this child.  We're just her parents now, and that is a huge relief.  We've always felt we were her parents---from the first minute.  But that wasn't a legal truth until now.  And definitely, a weight has been lifted.

Please don't misunderstand me---it wasn't as if someone were waiting in the wings---just looking for a chance to swoop her out of our arms.  I don't want to paint adoption in that light---that wouldn't be an accurate picture.  However---it was a possibility---though not a probability---that our fears would come to life.  But still---no matter how slight the chances of something going wrong in the adoption plan----the idea of those chances danced around in our heads at times, and wormed their way into anxieties.  Even though we knew---trust God---and whatever happens is His will, His plan---and it will be for the good.....still---we're human---and we worried at times.  And to have those worries dashed away with a single phrase:  "You understand that this is not a custody hearing.  Should this petition be approved---it will be as if Miriam is born unto you."  I can't say it wasn't a relief---and that it didn't feel darn good.  Because it did.  Miriam will always have two mothers---one loved her and gave her life but was unable to parent---and one was given the privilege of parenting her.  I will never pretend that C is less than she is---I will never pretend that she isn't important.  Because she is.  She's a part of my child.  And I don't intend to use the phrase "as if she were born unto you" in a manner that negates the roots of my child.  But I do intend to view this phrase as an affirmation that my family is valid---I am her mother and Stuart is her father---the privilege----the responsibility for the well being of our child belongs to no one (no human, at least) but us.  And I think that this is why, when the papers were signed approving our petition to adopt----our family clapped in the chambers----this is why we threw what I like to call Miriam's first shindig hootenanny----this is why we celebrated---and thanked God for all that He has done.

Aunt Nikki is a pro with her camera---so here is April 30, 2012---in pictures.

Waiting inside the courthouse.  Miriam is in her bib, as always, to protect her clothes.  My girl still has her reflux---and she really has no qualms about spitting up anywhere---courthouse or not.

Swearing in.  Miriam's raising her right hand too----you just can't tell in this picture.  ;)

Our petition to adopt is approved!!!

Kenneth Armstrong was nice enough to let is take a picture with him to commemorate the day:

Miriam's favorite part of finalization day?  The mirrors on the ceiling of the elevator.  

And we'll end with some family pics---the Finches.  Aunt Nikki really had to make Grandaddy (or G-dawg as he likes to be called) behave.  He kept talking about being acquitted and such when he was supposed to be smiling for pictures.  We think he was joking.  Sigh, I remember similar shenanigans during our wedding pictures.....good times, good times.   And Nana and Miriam unintentionally coordinated their outfits. Awwww.  Though Miriam was jealous of Nana's bracelet. 

A picture with Aunt Nikki.  We love you Aunt Nikki.  I think everyone should meet you because anyone who doesn't know you is just missing out.  

Huffstetlers and Finches.  Pop and Gran were just a little bit excited.   Hence the hootenanny the next day.  

And just us---a party of three.