A family of three becomes a family of four through transracial adoption.
Part 4 of 5: ADOPTION DAY!
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In Los Angeles the family court sets aside one day to process any adoptions that are ready to be finalized. A big party is thrown for the families outside of the courthouse and everyone has fun. However, our adoption was ready in August and we didn’t want to wait. So we got to go to family court on a regular business day.
My memory of court begins with the long line to get in, then the large waiting room full of families. I had my wife and kids with me. The large waiting room outside the courtrooms that line the walls is not a cheery place in spite of the toys they put out for kids to play with. You can imagine the many reasons families are there and they’re not pleasant.
We met our lawyer for the first time face-to-face. Our adoption process was not typical in that pretty much everything went off without a hitch so we had no need to meet with him ever. On a side note, my son had a court appointed attorney, all foster children do. But since he was under 1 and we were his legal guardians we had the right to consult with his attorney on our own and our conversations were privileged so the state was not privy to those discussions.
Our attorney prepped us very quickly on what will be said, what he will say, and what we should say. They move very fast there. Justice may not be swift getting the court date, but once you’re there they waste no time.
They whisked us in quickly and sat us before the judge. In one corner of the room was a pile of white teddy bears with American flag bow ties. My kids got one each, all kids get one in court. They still sometimes play with their “Adoption Bears.” I think adoption proceedings must be the happiest moments in the courtroom. All day long they deal with dysfunctional families, tearing families apart, and dealing with abuse. Adoption is all about smiles.
They knew the routine. Someone immediately took our video camera and started recording. I hardly had time to cry when the judge made it final before she invited us up to stand around her on the dais and take a picture.
After court we invited our friends and family to meet us for brunch, but being a weekday only my sister-in-law could make it. The real party had to wait until September when we finally had him baptized. In some respects the party never ends. And I know the adoption process is never fully over since we will need to revisit this event as our son grows up and asks questions.
We left our contact info open with the Department of Children and Family Services, just in case the birth mother had more children. Instead it almost felt like being on a telemarketer’s phone list. We would get calls to accept teenagers and other children but we had to tell them no.
This didn’t bother me too much until we were awakened by a call at 2 A.M. A 2 year old was in need of an immediate emergency placement. It was real hard to say no, but we simply couldn’t. All the next day I was stuck in a daze. I couldn’t help but continue asking myself, “What the hell happened at two in the morning such that a two year old had nowhere to go?” It was shortly after that that we asked them to permanently remove us from their list.
Next installment the conclusion: THE ROAD AHEAD
By Thomas Lopez