Monday, June 19, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 10- Adoption Finalization)
I left off in Part 9 anticipating Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization. That day arrived before we knew it. He was a week shy of 3 months old. The previous day, we'd had him baptized and some of my family came in from out of state and some of Oronzo's family attended as well.

Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization Day was a day of flurried activity with some of our family with us to be a part of the moment. I dressed him in a brand new outfit and we hustled out the door to drive to the courthouse.

Oronzo was viewing this day as merely a formality, since he already considered Snuggle Bug his son and a part of our family. I was treating it as a major milestone in our adoption journey and was sufficiently excited and a bit nervous.

I didn't consider the Finalization as the end of our journey because we'd be raising Snuggle Bug with the knowledge that he joined our family through adoption, but I was excited that this day meant the focus would shift from what the lawyers and the adoption agency needed from us to what we as a newly created little family needed. I was most excited about the fact that we would be officially recognized as a family in the eyes of the law.

Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization Day was a bit unique. Since Peyton, Oronzo's father, is a judge he was able to request a judge in our city that was a family friend of sorts. And because of that connection, we had a specific time and a courtroom reserved just for us, rather than being one of many families that day who didn't know when their time would arrive to step forward. Ours was a private affair.

Most Adoption Finalization court proceedings take about 10 minutes. Ours took about 30 minutes. We had some family members from both sides there in the courtroom with us. We also had our lawyer, the adoption agency social worker, the judge, a court reporter, us, and the star of the show, baby Snuggle Bug.

"Our" judge was spectacular! Not only did she do the normal legal stuff (reviewing the paperwork submitted by our lawyer and the social worker, asking them to explain why they were recommending us, asking us if we understood the importance of what we were about to do) but she also asked us to tell her our adoption story. She wanted to know more than just the facts that were presented to her on paper. I told our story in a voice shaky with emotion and had to stop to collect myself when the tears overcame me. Oronzo picked up where I left off and finished.

When the adoption was final, she then asked if any of our family members had anything they wanted to add. There were a few nice comments but the one who stole the show was Peyton. He had cleared his own court schedule (Monday's are always the busiest for him) to come and be a part of this day.

Peyton stood up and spoke with an emotion filled voice, "I am proud to welcome Snuggle Bug into our family. I'm happy to see the family name being carried on by my eldest son's eldest son. Snuggle Bug will always be a much loved part of our family."

Peyton's speech filled my eyes with tears again (yes, I ended up being quite weepy that day and Oronzo positively beamed with happiness). It meant so much to Oronzo and I to know that he (and all our family members) were accepting Snuggle Bug into their hearts with no reservations or differentiation. He simply became, "one of ours" in their hearts and minds the day the termination paperwork had been signed. It was nice to have them there to witness this final step in the adoption process.

After all the legal words were spoken and the paperwork was signed, we took pictures. We took pictures of the 3 of us as a family, pictures with our lawyer and the social worker, and we made sure to get a picture of Snuggle Bug with his judge. We even mailed her a copy of that picture after the fact. A quick side note, we see this judge nearly every Sunday now at a little cafe that we go to after mass. She's tickled that she gets to watch him grow, since she normally has no contact with families after she finalizes their adoptions.

When we were finished with the pictures, we all went out for lunch to celebrate! Snuggle Bug was passed around the table and showered with love. He also got some thoughtful gifts. One of my favorites is an adoption related picture frame that Alezia picked out for us. I don't have it's saying with me at the moment, but I'll add it when I can. Oronzo bought me a Precious Moments figurine that showed a mother and a father, with a little boy between them, holding an adoption decree.

As I mentioned earlier, this was an emotion filled day for me. A day of joy, celebration, relief, and a bit tinged with sorrow as I thought of Giselle and Quinn, and they were in my thoughts the entire day.

I've noticed in the Adoption Community that many parents refer to this day as "Gotcha Day!" and celebrate it like a birthday or an anniversary day. At the risk of offending, I'm going to admit that this "Gotcha Day" phrase makes me cringe. To me, it conjures up images of bragging about taking possession or ownership. Snuggle Bug is not a possession to own. He's a beautiful soul that we've been entrusted to care for during our time here on earth. I find the phrase insensitive to both adoptees and birth parents and I will never use it with any of our children.

As for celebrating Adoption Finalization Days, I don't have a problem with that, although we don't in our household. Snuggle Bug will know all about his adoption history. The pictures are carefully arranged in a scrapbook and will always be accessible for him to look at whenever he chooses, not just on the anniversary date of his Adoption Finalization Day. He will know of Quinn and Giselle. We'll answer any questions that he has along the way with complete honesty. But, we won't constantly dwell on the fact that he was adopted, mainly because we view him as our son, not our "adopted" son and we don't want him to grow up thinking it is only his adoption that defines him.

We don't have all the answers and we've never claimed to. We plan on taking things one day at a time and doing the best we can for Snuggle Bug. And if he ever questions my love for him, I will tell him, in the words of Jenna (one of my favorite bloggers), "I couldn't love you more if I had given birth to you."

If you think this is the end of my adoption posts, you're mistaken. As things pop into my head regarding Snuggle Bug's adoption I'll be posting. As we get more into our 2nd adoption, you can bet I'll be posting! So please, stay tuned for more.

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9:44 AM

At 10:28 AM, Blogger pithydithy said...

Finally, part 10! I've waited anxiously for each chapter, you know. And the finale didn't fail to disappoint-- or elicit tears. Again, thank you for sharing. And I have to add, also, that I have similar feelings about the phrase "Gotcha Day!" and am happy to read that I'm not alone.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

Oh, what a lovely, lovely story!

I am smiling. . .thanks for sharing.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Susie said...

I've so loved reading each part of your adoption story. Can't remember if I told you that my DH's father was adopted in 1906. That was quite a different time and is a story all by itself. Maybe I'll tell it someday...

At 11:11 AM, Blogger shade said...

Beatiful!!! I have talked to friend who adopted and they all say the same thing. I couldn't have loved you more if i had given birth to you. They also say they were telling the children from the begining much the way you plan to and they didn't have some of the problems that parents who didn't tell there children did. Don't know if that maks sense the way I said it, hope so.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) What a beautiful story, dear. Snuggle Bug is a blessed child.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger onegreyhorse said...

If you want the truth, the "Gotcha Day" thing turns me off to. It reminds me of reeling in a big fish, or something... I don't know. Just a strange term for such a beautiful event.

Anyway I have loved reading about your journey with Snuggle Bug and I am looking forward to hearing about Snuggle Bug Part Deux.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Catch said...

This was a truly beautiful story from beginning till the end....and I thank you for sharing it with have a beautiful little boy there, and I think how lucky he is to be in this wonderful home you and your husband have created. I will be looking to future posts from you. God bless you and your family!

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Beautiful story, great ending. I'm so glad that I got to hear all of it. Thanks for sharing!

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Amy... said...

Many, many congratulations to you. Your son seems to have such a loving mama!

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Great finalization story. We too had a wonderful judge and family members there to celebrate Widget's adoption finalization.

I agree with you on the "Gotcha day" phrase. Although, I do understand the connection better with international adoptions.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger M. said...

I love the way you write about your son and how he becamse part of your family. Your pride in thne process is so obvious and moving.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Faith said...

What a beautiful story! I have enjoyed reading it!
I don't like the "gotcha" thing either. It sounds like your swatting a fly and said "gotcha"! Not too pretty!!

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

This was a beautiful story to read...and what a cute pic of Snuggle Bug with the judge! I had never heard of the term "gotcha day" but it doesn't sound like it would be a phrase I would like either.

Thanks again for sharing your journey!

At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a perfect ending!! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!!

At 1:40 AM, Blogger rena said...

Congratulations! what a great story. Definitely staying tuned.

At 4:30 AM, Blogger firstborn said...


At 6:28 AM, Blogger kpjara said...

Like you could get rid of us! This is where the story gets even life in the life of a snuggle bug!

Thank you SO much, again, for sharing this story, this journey, so honestly and openly. You are a God-send.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Gina Conroy said...

What a sweet story. I look forward to hearing more.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made me cry! I'm anxiously awaiting finalization of Jake's adoption. We are extra anxious because of the ICWA issue. I can't wait for finalization day!

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Baby M blew a rasperberry at their finalization day. My daughters parents had to wait six long months to become her "offical" parents.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger abebech said...

How beautiful!

I'm with you about "gotcha" and my husband is even more adamantly opposed to it. We want to celebrate the day we became a family, even mark it some how on the announcements, but dh had her in his arms one day, I a week later, and finalization is a long way off . . .

Anyway, it has been such a joy to read your story, and I can't wait to read more!

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Shereen said...

I had to play catch up today reading all of your lovely posts. My heart sank when I read about snugglebug falling in the pool. That had to have been super scary, for both you and him. I got caught up on your posts right on time for part 10 of the adoption story. I had perfect timing. I love your father's day card. I have to remember that one. Keep up the great work.

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! those were great! I'm so glad I took the time to read them all! I'm soo happy for you guys!

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - very sweet.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Jan/ said...

Beautifully written, with amazing sensitivity toward the birth parents and family, in the midst of your falling in love with your son. Thanks for sharing.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I just found your blog yesterday and have read the 10 parts at various times over the last two days.
I am 37, newly married (first time) and we're having some trouble conceiving. We haven't really begun to discuss adoption, but reading your story gives me great food for thought.
You are very blessed, as I'm sure you know, and you have blessed my life today. Thank you so much!

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Finding Beth said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my "weed killer" WWFYW post. :) I've now read all 10 parts of your adoption story. What a blessing you've received! And you've blessed me with the sharing of it.

Beth Ann

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I was mistaken. I had thought I had read your story, but had not finished it until today. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Our paths are very different, domestic vs. international, but the emotions are the same.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Barbie @ Mamaology said...

I finally had some time to read thru your adoption story. Thank you so much for sharing it. It was so touching! I cried several times. Your little ones sure seems blessed to have you and your husband as his Mommy and Daddy. May God bless as you raise him:)

At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to your blog for all the yummy recipes but this story, every part of it, had me on the edge of my seat. I am so happy for you three. Wow, thanks for sharing!

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OW - thank you for sharing all this. I just read through your story and I feel overwhelmed with joy myself.

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly thanks for posting on my site. So I came to have a look at yours :0)
I am pleased I did as I was adopted at 2 weeks old back in 1967. I really am not happy about talking about this in public, but if you want to email me then its fine I have to say my story was a happy one. My adoptive parent are MY parents, nothing could or would ever change that. I even have my dad's personality, we are like two peas in a pod. They were great in that they told me I was adopted from very young. But they always told me I was chosen by them, because they thought me special. Bless, as a little girl I thought that meant they saw me in a window and picked me, as they thought I was the cute one. hehe But I hope that your child will cherish the love and affection that I was given, and I am sure you will to. I was blessed and will never be able to express in words the love and admoration I hold for my parents.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Kelly said...

I read through your adoption posts. You are a wonderful mom. My husband's cousin and her husband are in the process of adopting. It has been a long and draining process for them. I feel like I was able to see through their eyes a little better because of your posts. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more!

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an adoptive mother of 3½ (we're in the process of adopting our 4th, a 3 month old we've had since birth). I read all 10 parts of your adoption journey, relating to so much of the stress, joy, anticipation, wonder, love and compassion you expressed. Let me just say, anyone who dares say to us, "at least you didn't have to endure labor," clearly has zero clue of the intense labor pains we adoptive mothers endure.

I so enjoyed reading this beautiful story. And while I'm not sure I completely share your perspective on Gotcha Day (which we have celebrated in the past but not recently), you certainly have challenged me to consider another view on the matter.

~Toni (In The Midst Of This Season)

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Patti said...

what a great adoption story. It brought tears to my eyes. So glad I stumbled upon your blog.


At 7:14 PM, Blogger anna said...

Wow, what a beautiful story, told with such joy and love!
I found your blog through a few random links, but once I started reading your adoption story, I just couldn't stop until I reached the end! God Bless in all you do.
anna : )

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have read all 10 of your adoption story posts. I cried, I smiled, I hoped all along with you! Thank you for sharing such a major part of your life! Do you have this journey added to your box of stuff for Snuggle Bug?

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Alli's Originals said...

I have not gotten through the whole story yet but as a girl who was adopted I must say that this story really touches my heart. I found my "bio mom" when I was 28 and it made me truly grateful for my parents. It takes really special people to bring a child home and love it and raise it as their own. I grew up with as much love from my parents as I would have if they had given birth to me. My Mother ALWAYS said "You are special because you were chosen, NOT given up" and that is what I grew up knowing. Finding my bio Mom was something I needed to do for myself but most important it made me realize how lucky I am.If you were standing in front of me right now I would hug you....what you have done is so are angels.

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Donna said...

I came across your blog when I googled hair bow instructions and came across your story by chance. Thank you for the most uplifting 1/2 hour.Bless you and your family.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Don't ask me how, but I came upon your page after a good search for Thomas Birthday cakes. That brought me to a page where people shared pictures of their train cakes, and it was there that I found a link to your page and just read your 10 page adoption story. I was in tears many, many times over the course of reading. Congratulations on a successful adoption and a healthy baby. After going through IVF 10 times, stories like these tug at my heart strings more than you know. I find it so uplifting to read a story with a happy ending.

At 5:36 AM, Blogger Tabitha (From Single to Married) said...

What a fantastic story - I love happy endings!

At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Amelia said...

We are starting the adoption process with an agency this month. I have enjoyed reading your adoption story for your little one. Congrats and will read about your second adoption story later. Thank you for placing your feelings out there, because as we both know adoption is not for the faint of heart.

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Name: Overwhelmed

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It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

World's Greatest Daddy, hands down!
My recent projects.
Five Ingredients Friday (Beefy Pasta Skillet)
1 Real Life Person now knows about my blog.
I'm almost afraid to post this.
How stupid can I be?!
Five Ingredients Friday (Filo-Wrapped Fish)
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 9)
Will he be a musician or a conductor?
Diaper challenges

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