Our “Gotcha Day” was December 18, 2013, and it was nothing short of spectacular.
Judge: “Do you understand that if the court approves this adoption, you will legally assume all of the rights, duties, and responsibilities of a natural parent of the child? Do you understand that if this decree is granted, this child be the same as a natural child to you? Do you understand that you will have all of the duties toward this child to educate, support and to supply moral guidance and upbringing? Do you understand you have a duty of love and affection to this child?”
Mom and Dad: Yes Yes Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With those nearest to us in the court room seats, my 9-month-old daughter and I took the witness stand first. I placed my hand on the Bible and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My tears could not be contained and my heart was so full, that I was worried it would burst. The judge asked me to introduce all the people we had with us that day, and I proudly showed off our family. I gladly answered the questions that the judge posed and our attorney chimed in as needed. Then we switched, and my husband took the stand. He was so proud to be there, holding our daughter. It made me weep some more.
It was about a ten-minute hearing. It was surreal. It was amazing. We walked into the courthouse with Baby Girl B (her legal name this whole time) and walked out with Miranda Hope. Shortly afterwards, we received her official certificate of adoption. She is ours. We are hers. A family was born.
We came back to the house and hosted a small lunch for those who were able to celebrate with us. Many people were able to attend and share our joy. I will never forget a moment of that day.
On the witness stand, holding Miranda on my lap, I felt a little tingle. It was Allie. My first daughter. I am sure of it. She was there. She was watching. She was protecting her little sister. Allie was born two years earlier. Her heart never took a beat outside of my body. She was stillborn. I labored with her and delivered her and held her as long as I could. We never knew how or why she died, but we knew then more than ever, that we were meant to be parents. Allie is such a huge part of our family, even though we can only see her in our hearts.
Once the adoption was finalized, we went from a grieving family to a healing family to a fertility issue family to a potential adoptive family to just a plain old family. We went from sleepless nights of worry and fear and sadness to sleepiness nights of the worry and fear and excitement. Parenting a living child is so hard. Honoring a child that I carried in my womb but never got to bring home from the hospital is also incredibly hard.
And yet, I adore both my girls and feel lucky and honored that I am their mom.