My kids are my kids. It is official.
The finalization was bizarre in the extreme. A new law in Nevada allowed us to call in to the hearing instead of traveling the eight hours it would take for the 15 minute hearing. So we finalized on the living room floor, three adults; the hubs and me, and our Utah DCFS worker, with the kids on the couch, not understanding at all and making it too loud for us to hear my cell on speakerphone. And the phone kept cutting out. Of course it did.
We phoned in our adoption.
We did not get dressed up or go to a court house. The kids did not understand at all. DJ thinks adoption means we all got married. There is some irony to that since three months ago, I had a dream that my mom married a nine-year-old boy, because, she said, it was easier to get married than adopt. (Good grief! My subconscious isn’t even a little subtle. 2×4 anyone? anyone?)
We didn’t know what to say in court.
David deferred to me because I’m the chatterbox and I said something like, “We don’t believe it.” Smooth. Really articulate! But who cares? Who cares what we said? We said yes. We want the kids. Yes. We’ll take care of them. Yes. We’ll give them our crap when we die. Yes. We love them.
And it was done.
Our caseworker hugged us and took a funny picture with David (they are about the same height when David is on his knees) and then he snapped some unflattering ones of us that I will not be sharing. Who knew holding DJ on my hip made me look like a brick house?
Then he left.
And I went to the kitchen. And cried. Snotty, uncontrollable, sink-to-the-floor crying. Not a happy cry, that would be later. This was not unlike the cry of an innocent prisoner set free, sort of stuck on the injustice of it all. Until it had happened, I really did not believe it would ever happen.
It shouldn’t have taken so long.
It was too much.
We came through. But we paid a price. And I knew it. That was what the cry was about. The price. The toll. I have a foster mom friend who probably won’t become the spokesperson for fostering in her state because she likes to say to prospective recruits, “Welcome to Hell. You’ll be okay.”
Then I was numb.
When Joey’s adoption was finalized after he had been placed with us for six months, it didn’t feel like anything special or different, just the next day. Court was cool and all but he didn’t feel more a part of our family than he did the day before. This time was different. This time, it took me three days to allow the finality of it all to marinate enough to believe it was real.
I posted the news.
I’ve never had so many likes and comments. Feeling the love. Especially from my cognoscenti – other foster moms. Especially from the foster mom who I was jealous of four months ago as she was on her way to court to finalize her adoption but is now fighting a contested adoption and an appeal. Especially from the foster moms who fostered the kids before I fostered the kids, either of whom would have been perfectly marvelous permanent moms to them. Especially from the mom of my first kiddo and her mom, whom I simply adore. Especially friends who’ve been in the trenches with me and watched me get my teeth kicked in. Especially everyone.
You can’t know unless you know.
Maybe it’s no different than the last 3 years that they have been part of our family. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have to keep the Windex in a locked cabinet or ask for permission to leave the state with them. But maybe it’s everything. Maybe it’s my clenched, protective heart un-clinging and simply holding instead. Maybe it’s monumental. Maybe it’s unlike anything I have ever felt before.
Maybe it’s joy.