Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The Adoption Chronicles: The End
We arrived at the LDS Family services building today to already find everybody there. My Parents, Nikki’s Parents, the caseworkers, Nikki, Aaron, Aaron’s girlfriend, and Aaron’s girlfriends friend. It was nothing short of a full house. Sometime was spent passing Roe around and letting everybody hold him and love him. Then Nikki wanted a little more alone time with him which we gladly granted. We all kind of hung out with Aaron and his family in the waiting room for about half an hour making small talk and pleasantry’s. Then our case worker Sharon came out and asked Lara and I and my Parents to join her in a conference room. We went unsuspecting of any bad news and Sharon dropped a bomb. Nikki was having second thoughts. You know that sick feeling you get when you see the lights of a police cruiser on behind you while speeding? Multiply that by 100 and you’ll have a glimpse of how I felt in that moment. The problem? Luckily Nikki wasn’t thinking that she wanted to not adopt at all, she just wanted to change the deal a little bit. Nikki desperately wants to be a part of the baby’s life as he grows up. I remember specifically that she asked us how we would handle that issue. Lara and I told her then that I thought that a child really and truly becomes conscious of what’s going on when they are 2, and that we would be fine with meeting her and allowing her to visit him two or three times a year, but that after he turned two, that we would want those visits to end. Me and Lara’s position is that we not only want the boy to not be confused or have confusion around him, but that it will be easier for Nikki to let go and move on with her life with less contact. It’s really nice to be married to a woman who has been in Nikki’s shoes through all of this. It gives us a perspective I think would be impossible to have without Lara’s insight. Anyway, after being told we were the ones Nikki had chosen, she agreed to the two years. Today she is rescinding that agreement and trying to get us to agree to something more. Today! Minutes from when she is supposed to be signing her rights over to us. I was livid! Lara tells me that Nikki is stressed out with the regular taxing effects of post-pregnancy, the stress of constantly fighting with Aaron, and most importantly coming to terms with adopting out her son. Sharon (our caseworker) was advising me all kind of things about how lots and lots of kids have prolonged exposure to their birth parents, and how there are new studies that showed it was healthy and stuff like that… which was all contrary to what Lara and I had read and even what we learned when we went through those foster care classes. I felt like she was working on commission or something and that she would say anything to get this through. Lara had this look of concern on her face that I will never forget, I knew what was going through her head, “What if this doesn’t happen?” “What if Nikki changes her mind.” Lara thought we should rethink it. I did not. My parents were very supportive but both of them made it clear that they thought we should just take the path of least resistance. Sharon was all for the change. I did not like it, not at all. The truth is, that there are no agreements in writing about our obligation to the birth parents after they sign their rights over to the adoption agency. We could promise Nikki the world, and then never speak or even write a letter to her and there would be nothing she can do. No one said it out loud but I felt like it was implied that on this point we should do something of that nature. I was so angry… I am embarrassed to say how angry I was. I felt like I was being hustled or strong-armed into doing something I wasn’t comfortable with. At the time I just thought Nikki had lied to us the whole time fully planning on doing this at the last minute – though looking back I don’t think that was true at all. I didn’t know what to do, Lara suggested my Dad give us a blessing. She’s great like that. We sat in the conference room, my parents, and my wife. Lara and I held hands as my Dad laid his hands, one on mine and one on Lara’s head and gave us a blessing. It was really hard to focus on what he was saying, as my mind just spun with what I was going to say to Nikki. I specifically remember however these words, “Heavenly Father has a plan for your family and he knows that you are ready to raise one of his children, I bless you with the wisdom to that the right way.” That was it for me, it was like an answer. The look on Lara’s face was 180 degrees from what it was prior to the blessing. Lara and I met alone for a few minutes and we just decided that we were going to stick to our original agreement because we both honestly thought that was best for Roe. We went and met with Nikki, in another room, her case worker and her Mom were there. She was holding Roe and told us the same thing Sharon did. I told Nikki that we were not comfortable with that, I said something to the effect of, “You picked us for this adoption because you think that we will do the best for your Son in any situation. If this is our first act as his parents then I am telling you the truth, we don’t think it is a good idea to agree to visits after he is two. Maybe two years from now we will think differently and I want you to trust us, trust that we will let you see him if at the age of two we think that is best for him. We could tell you right now what you want to hear and then just do whatever we want. You know all about that, that is what your Sister went through. So we are being completely honest with you now, and hope that by us being honest you can trust we will always do what is in Roes best interests.” It worked, she agreed to sign the paperwork and did. I was a little triumph that wasn’t at all satisfying… We meant every word of it though, and I am way more comfortable being completely upfront about all this. We said goodbye to everyone, I think I hugged pretty much everyone there twice and a few of them three or four times. Finally it was over, we overcame obstacle after obstacle to the very freaking end. Now the only thing we had to do was make it past the next six months without either of us dying! That is the only conceivable obstacle that could take him away from us. Roe was strapped in and asleep in the backseat of our car, Lara and I sat there for a moment or two both looking like we had just had the longest day of our life. We hugged and started kissing, we made out over the car console for a minute or two like we did when we were dating. It was pretty much one of the greatest moments of my life thus far. And then, we, me and my family, drove home.