a family creation
I know it’s silly, but I’ve been trying to find something adorable for Baby J to wear to court and I realized that I have nothing adorable to wear myself. I’m only half kidding. I never look adorable. Ever. But I don’t even have a dress that fits right. And practically everything that does fit is black. Probably not the best color to commemorate the occasion, right?
I used to put so much energy into worrying about what I would wear or how I looked, but to be honest when I leave the house now I’m often content if I remember to bring a bottle and spare outfit for Baby J in case of leakage. Times have changed.
So our big day is tomorrow. Family and friends are welcome, but that is actually bittersweet since my mom really wanted to be here for this. In her past life before retirement, my mom was a family court judge and her favorite occasions were adoption days. Every other day she dealt with bitter custody battles, domestic disputes, abused kids, foster families gone awry, etc. You name it, she saw it. She says the best days were when happy families were joined together (or reunited after foster care). She is fond of the saying “it ain’t over ’til the Judge kisses the baby.” Or at least until the Judge gets a photo with the happy family.
My mom will have to settle for a photo, unfortunately, since she in no condition to travel.
We’ve been thinking about whether any loved ones will be able to share this special occasion with us. Since Baby J will be a year old in just a few months, we may wait for a real celebration until then. But this is still a special day. Given that our parents can’t be there, I’d be fine if it were just the three of us. That would seem perfectly appropriate to me. Plus most people early on a Thursday morning would either be at work or home tending to small children. We did invite a few family members but they are unlikely to attend except for my aunt. I think she feels like the surrogate for the rest of the family, which is nice.
For a while I’d been wondering whether to share the date with K and her mom, and possibly even send them an invitation to join us in court. I hesitated at first because I wasn’t sure how it might make them feel. Would it be insensitive to invite them to such a glorious day for our family? Would it be painful or maybe bittersweet for them? I wondered whether it would be inappropriate for any number of reasons. Maybe it wasn’t the kind of thing that birth parents normally do? Maybe it was supposed to be for just us? I really didn’t know. There are no guidelines for this sort of thing.
Then I read a post by a first mom/birth mother whose blog I follow (I’m not linking to her in case she doesn’t want the traffic, but you know who you are). She mentioned how she felt when she found out about her son’s finalization hearing well after the fact and in a roundabout way — i.e., not directly from the adoptive parents before the court date. She noted how it bothered her, not that she wasn’t invited as much as excluded from such an important event that brought the adoptive family great happiness at her expense. They hadn’t even told her about it.
And it made sense.
I realized that in my attempt to try to “protect” K and her mom, I was thinking of doing what many fertile friends and family had done to me over the years. And I resented them for it. If I had learned anything about protecting myself — as only I can — it was the the fine art of “opting out” when I needed to. I always wanted the invitation extended, even if I chose to say “no thanks” (or “hell no” in private). I never wanted someone else to presume that they could know how anything would make me feel. I never wanted anyone else to eliminate my options. My choices.
So the other night I emailed K and her mom and told them about our court date. I didn’t really expect to hear back, but I wanted them to know that we were thinking of them. We are always thinking of K.
Then last night K called. It turns out she is headed home for a few days and wants to plan a visit. And yes, she would love to join us for our day in court to celebrate. There is always a chance she might not be able to make it, so I don’t want to create any expectation. But she wants to be there to witness our being joined as a family in the eyes of the law. It’s the final step in the legal process that K started before we even met her. It’s the final step in the creation of our legal family.
Of course every day I remember that it was K who created our family to begin with. When K chose us to parent her child, when she placed her newborn daughter in my arms, when she called us mama and papa to our baby girl (and I mean “our” in the collective sense), she created our family and by extension her place in it.
How amazingly wonderful that she wants to celebrate this joyous occasion with us.
I am so very grateful.