Adapting to adopting

They say the second one is different, less stressful. I think I can now attest to that.

We were filled with anxiety prior to adopting daughter No. 1. Every night we would pray that things went smoothly, and we would flip out when our correspondence to lawyers, caseworkers, et al was not replied to immediately. The sense of relief when the judge made it official was palpable, and my response to this momentous event was to write overly sappy personal accounts of my feelings. Yikes. Sorry.

Daughter No. 2? Not so much. Three years ago we were all like, “Oh my goodness, we’re adopting a child! Thou hast blest us greatly on this joy-filled occasion of love everlasting!” Last week I had to call out of work like, “Hey boss, I need off Wednesday. ‘Bout to adopt this kid.” It was like running an errand. On the way to court I dropped the dog off at PetSmart for his annual vaccines. Really.

Of course, this is not a reflection of our feelings toward one girl or the other—we love them in the equal but different way that all parents can understand—but only reflects the change in us. Thou hast blest us indeed, but we’ve also grown more confident in our understanding of the adoption process. And things are different now. Three years ago we adopted a baby girl who couldn’t talk back and actually fell asleep in the hallway before the hearing. Last week we walked into court with two 3-year-olds like LET’S DO THIS BEFORE SOMEONE WETS HERSELF.

We had a different judge this time around, and she was much more sympathetic to the process than our previous judge, who didn’t seem to separate adoption hearings from other things that happened in court: You are now sentenced to life with this child (gavel slam) … NEXT. She made it a point to thank our supporters in attendance, especially my in-laws, to whom she made a special acknowledgment. My father-in-law, under the impression he was supposed to stand and introduce himself, stood and said, “I am the father of the moth—” before being interrupted by the judge, who had continued with the proceedings. Again, she was great.

The judge even gave our official new daughter a “medal of adoption” to wear around her neck, and—as if sensing what was about to happen (she must have been a mom)—gave our older daughter one too, before she could even utter the words, “BUT I WANT ONE!” (On the way to the post-adoption lunch celebration, both girls had their medals taken away after flinging them around in the back seat, almost breaking a window, which left them both in tears. Like I said, it was a day like any other.)

Judge aside, everything about the day was just so familiar. Same court, same time, same type of summer day, and save for a few, the same loving support system. The only difference was our attitude. Three years ago we felt like the adoption day legitimized us as parents, her as our daughter. This time it was a mere formality. She was our daughter the day she arrived.

But yeah—it feels good that it’s official.

On the way home we picked up the dog. I got a refill on his heartworm medication. It was all very emotional.

Note: This column appears in the 8/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/23 issue of the Peoria Times.


Bill said…
Great story, thanks for letting us readers in once again to what it is like to adopt!

I agree that the judge giving your older daughter a medal too, was an especially wise touch.
mkenny59 said…
Thanks, Bill! Here is an invisible "commenting" medal ... enjoy!