Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A Time To Mourn
We've made it through to the other side of the mediation conference. It wasn't easy and I felt so apprehensive walking into that room. We had to wait for over 30 minutes before getting Boo's bio mom on the phone (it's tricky getting an inmate to a court ordered conference call, apparently).

We weren't sure what to expect. We expected that IF Boo's bio mom was considering relinquishment, she'd want much more post adoptive contact that we were willing to offer. We were preparing for the worst, that the negotiation attempt would end miserably and we'd be waiting for the second severance trial court date to press on.

The mediation did not go as expected! When Boo's bio mom got on the phone, the mediator started it out by asking her, "What do you feel is in your child's best interest?" or something to that affect.

There was a long pause and then we heard Boo's bio mom begin weeping. Through her tears she said, "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do! I love my little girl so much, but as much as it pains me I know it's in her best interest to be adopted by her foster family."

We were shocked! We weren't expected to hear those words from her. We sat in stunned silence.

Then Boo's bio mom said that she did not agree with amount of contact that was written in the draft post adoptive agreement, that she wanted much more than that. As my mind churned, trying to process everything and trying to figure out a way to tactfully tell her that the amount of contact she wanted was not going to happen at this point in time, the mediator took over.

The mediator told Boo's bio mom that before the specifics of the post adoptive agreement could be formalized, she needed to understand that her decision as to whether or not to relinquish her parental rights had to be made entirely independent of what we might or might not offer her in the way of a post adoptive agreement, otherwise it could be construed as an attempt at coercion on our part and the mediator was not going to allow that to happen. She told everyone that she was going to ask us to leave the room (along with our lawyer and the CPS case manager) so that she could speak in private with Boo's bio mom and her lawyer before this went any further.

We left the room and sat waiting, mostly in stunned silence. Eventually the mediator came out and said that Boo's bio mom had made the decision to relinquish and would accept the terms of our post adoptive agreement. She told us that we were free to go, unless we wanted to say anything further to Boo's bio mom.

Tears welled in my eyes and I said, "Saying thank you seems so inadequate in this situation." The mediator encouraged us to come back in and talk a bit more with Boo's bio mom.

We went back in and I told Boo's bio mom, "I want to thank you for trusting us with raising Boo and being her family. You know how much we love her already." Boo's mom said, "I know. I just hope that you'll make sure she knows how much I love her." I assured her that we'd be raising Boo with the knowledge that she was adopted and that her bio mom loves her very much. I reiterated that we would share age-appropriate information about her to Boo as Boo grew older. I encouraged her to write Boo a letter for us to give to her later.

I asked Boo's bio mom if she'd be willing to provide us with her family medical history, a picture of herself, and a baby picture of Boo (since we only have pictures of Boo from 12 months on). I explained that I thought these things would be very important to Boo as she got older. She said that she would get those things to us.

The mediator said something to the effect that she was sure we realized that Boo's bio mom was disappointed that we weren't offering her more frequent contact but that she explained to Boo's bio mom that she would need to lead a healthy, crime-free, sober life-style after she was released from prison and maybe that would help build trust between us and later change the frequency of our contact with her. We said we would keep an open mind about that.

So, now we wait. We wait for the lawyers to gather the necessary documents and get them faxed to Boo's bio mom in prison. We wait for her to sign the relinquishment papers. And while we wait, we mourn.

Yes, as strange as that sounds, we are mourning in some respects.

Of course, we're relieved and thankful that Boo's bio mom has made the decision to do what she feels is in her daughter's best interest, to allow her to be adopted by us.

But we're also experiencing sadness. It was difficult hearing the pain and tears in Boo's bio mom's voice as she told us of her decision. It was bittersweet to finally hear her admit that she was not able to provide her daughter with the stability that she deserves and that she wanted us to adopt her.

Boo's bio mom has fought so hard and for so long (over 2 1/2 years) to maintain her parental rights and to get her daughter back and in the end she couldn't overcome her personal demons and do what is necessary to make that happen.

But in the final hour, she put her child's needs first. She made it very clear that she loves her daughter and that this decision is the hardest she'll ever make. I believe that to be true. And, as a mother, it pains me. Her loss pains me.

That's the thing about adoption that many don't truly understand. As an adoptive mother, it's very hard to reconcile that my happiness has to come at the expense of another mother's pain and sadness. My gain is another mother's loss. No matter how brave or noble that mother is trying to be, that loss will always be with her. And it will always be with me as well. I will always be conscious of that loss.

And there will come a time when my children will be old enough to understand the sacrifice that was made and they will feel a sense of loss too, I'm certain. If I, as an adoptive mom, feel it then certainly my children will feel it at some level as well. I just hope that I can have a solid enough relationship with my children that when they reach that level of understanding and begin to mourn that loss, that they will come to me and I will be able to at least offer to listen and empathize and support them. And maybe we'll be at a place in our relationship with their bio moms that they can speak directly to them about their feelings as well.

This is not a done deal yet by any means, and it's certainly pre-mature to be celebrating. Right now, for me personally, this is a time to mourn for Boo's bio mom. It could've been different for her but it's not, so right now she's making what she feels is the right choice for her daughter. She's placing her trust in us and I'm determined to be trustworthy.

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11:46 PM

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In case you're wondering...
We still don't have a definitive answer on Boo's case but here's the latest.

Once CPS determined that Boo's bio mom is indeed incarcerated again, they filed a motion for a new severance trial. That trial has been set for mid-April.

In the meantime, the judge has ordered that a mediation conference be held between us (Oronzo, me, and our lawyer) and Boo's bio mom and her lawyer, as well as a facilitator and CPS present. Obviously, since Boo's bio mom is incarcerated in another state, this will be a phone conference.

The judge is hoping that we'll be able to come to some kind of post-adoptive arrangement that where we agree to some type of post-adoptive contact in exchange for Boo's bio mom voluntarily relinquishing her parental rights, rather than fighting it in court longer (Boo has been in the system for over 2 1/2 years now, it's time for this to be done).

I must admit, I've gone through some angry moments. I've felt angry that we're being strongly encouraged to negotiate post-adoptive contact with a woman who has led a dangerous and criminal life-style for over 20 years. I've felt angry at what she's put her daughter through these past 2 1/2 years with her actions. I've felt angry that she's fought so hard to maintain her parental rights and yet couldn't seem to keep her own life together to give her daughter the stability she deserves. And I've struggled with these emotions because under different circumstances, I'd probably have no problem with some type of post-adoptive contact, as we have with Snuggle Bug's bio mom.

It's taken me time to work through this anger. Thank goodness for supportive family and friends who have listened without judgement and prayed with and for us.

I'm in a better place now to enter this mediation conference that's to be held next week. Oronzo and I have agreed on a "bottom-line" as far as what type of post-adoptive contact we're willing to offer (visitation is NOT a part of that bottom-line, not while Boo's bio mom is living the life that she's living now and maybe not at all until Boo requests that...if she makes that decision). If Boo's bio mom isn't willing to accept our bottom-line, then we'll see her in court. We feel the odds are more in our favor at this point.

We've been told that Boo's bio mom is seriously considering relinquishing her parental rights. She's begun to admit to herself and others that she may never be stable enough in her own life to parent her child. Still, it's not certain that she will make that decision in the end. We may still end up in court.

So, that's the update. This has been a much harder road than we ever imagined. It's been so stressful and there are days when I feel I've aged 10 years in the past 2. I just pray that this will all be worth it in the end. Boo is what keeps us going throughout all of this.

We celebrated Boo's 3rd birthday recently by having a birthday tea party for her. She loved pouring tea for all of her little friends that day!

I look back at some of the first pictures we took of her when she arrived to us at 12 months old. It didn't seem like it at the time, but she was still such a baby girl back then...now she's grown taller, her face is definitely more defined, and her hair is nearly down to her waist (she calls it her princess hair). She's a sassy, beautiful, stubborn little girl. We love her dearly!

I'll post another update sooner rather than later.

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10:28 PM

Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

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!

Beautiful adoption video
Date Night Bliss
Family Rules and Values
In the swing of school
It's time for the kiddos to head back to school a...
Flying home for a nice, long visit!
Baby fix!
Easing back into blogging
A shocking phone call
1 year anniversary for Boo

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