Millie's adoption is officially and legally finalized.
In some ways, this is the end of our adoption process. There are no more papers to fill out, nothing left to submit to our adoption agency, no more court dates, no more home visits, no more worrying about cleaning the house for home visits or making sure the dog is well-behaved and no more worrying about missing deadlines or needing to get licenses renewed. These are all such good things. They are important things too. In many ways this means that we no longer have to try to prove to anyone that we are good enough to be Millie's parents. Knowing that there is nothing left to prove to anyone is an incredible feeling and removes a huge weight that has been on all of our minds for these past six months.
And in other ways, this finalization is really more of a final beginning. In January, I wrote a blog post for It's Conceivable. In this blog post, I wrote about the many different times that it felt as if we were officially starting the adoption process. Signing up for an information session felt like the beginning, and then meeting with our adoption counselor for the first time felt like the beginning, and then finishing our profile felt like the beginning, etc. So in some ways, when we received an email on Friday from our lawyer (who also happens to be my wonderful Uncle Rick) explaining that our adoption was finalized, it felt like the very final beginning.
I say that this is a beginning because in so many ways we are just beginning this process of adoption. We are just beginning to build a relationship with Millie's birthparents that values everyone and allows everyone to feel good. We are just beginning to understand the impact that adoption will have on our lives and on Millie's life. We are just beginning to understand how to deal with comments that people make and will continue to make to us out of ignorance and out of misinformation about adoption. We are just beginning to think about how we will talk about adoption to Millie. We are just beginning to think about how we will be able to help Millie through the questions that she will have one day about adoption. There are so many things about this adoption process that we are just beginning because adoption is for a lifetime. It will always be present in our lives and in Millie's life and in the lives of her birth family. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
So many of the misconceptions that people have about adoption seem to stem from the way that adoption was dealt with in the past. In the past, an adoption was a single event. One that would pass quickly and then be swept under the rug with the hopes of never having to take it out and examine it again. Adoption meant secrets and dramatic revelations and hurt hearts and missing information. When an adoption was finalized, it was closed, it was done, everyone just hoped the whole idea of it would go away. So much of that has changed and continues to change. We are so thankful that this process will continue throughout Millie's life. Yes, there are things we don't know how we will deal with, there are things that scare us, there are things we wish we didn't have to deal with, but how is that different than any other set of parents? The things we will have to deal with might be different, but the fact that we will have to deal with difficult and uncomfortable things, isn't that what we all sign up for when we decide to become parents?
Today the actual certified copies of the judgement order of adoption from the court arrived at our house. As Carla was cooking dinner, I stood in the kitchen and read the whole thing out loud to her and to Millie. I cried through the whole thing, even though the majority of it was written in very boring and very legal sounding language. There was one line that struck me and has stuck with me since I read it. Towards the end of the document it says, "It is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that from this day the minor shall, to all legal intents and purposes, be the child of the petitioners and, for the purpose of inheritance and all other legal incidents and consequences, the same as if born to them."
"The same as if born to them." Yes, legally that will be the case, but our relationship with Millie is not exactly the same as if she was born to us. It has its differences and we are committed to recognizing and honoring those differences. It will not be enough to simply pretend that it is the same as if Millie were born to us because that discounts the very important and very real truth that she was not born to us, she found us after she was born to her birth family and we were the family that was meant to raise her in this world and that is so so amazing. And that deserves to be honored and celebrated and that will take a life time to do. That will never be finished.