In a shocking display of government efficiency, we finalized Kembe’s adoption today! I had no idea it could happen so quickly. I’ve been working on it for the last three months, but I wasn’t sure if the judge would count his adoption as final in Haiti, or if she would make us go through the steps of a local domestic adoption. We didn’t have an attorney, and the court clerks were miserably unhelpful, but with the assistance of Google, a rudimentary grasp of legal jargon, and several trips to the courthouse, we managed to get the process moving on our own. We had to submit a post-placement homestudy and arrived at the courthouse with a briefcase full of documents. Fortunately, since we had approval from both Haiti and the US side, the judge found enough evidence to allow us to adopt.
We didn’t tell anyone about the hearing today (except Grandma and Grandpa). Honestly, I was trying to keep it low-key in my mind so that we wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t happen. We didn’t tell the kids what was going on. When we walked into the room, it all happened very fast. The next thing I knew, we were taking an oath and signing papers.
This is our second time to finalize the adoption of a three-year-old. Both times, I have gotten so emotional as the judge asks if we agree to “bestow upon them all the rights of a natural-born child”. With childbirth, no one asks you if you promise to love and keep your child. There is something profound about standing next to a child you know and promising to take them as your family. It is a similar feeling to getting married – a conscious decision to love them, and do life together.
I think Mark and I are still a little shocked. Everything has been so problematic and complicated with his adoption process (as it was with Jafta’s too). I think we expected to be sent home today with a list of more tasks. We are so relieved to be done.
Well, almost done. Now we have to go through immigration to make him a citizen. But that can wait for now. Mommy needs a break from filling out legal forms.
On our way home, India kept asking about when we were going to adopt her. I explained in every way I could that she did not need to be adopted. But she was distraught, and adamant that she wants to be adopted, too. She has witnessed this ceremony for both her brothers and she obviously gets that there is something special about it. She seems wholly unimpressed that she grew in my tummy. She wants me to raise my hand and make a commitment in front of her. We may be staging some sort of adoption ceremony for India one of these days – but it does make me happy that my children view adoption as an affirming aspect of our family. I know that my boys will process the loss issues of adoption as they move through different developmental stages. But today, we celebrate the beauty of becoming a family this way.