Becoming the legal parents of someone else’s child is a long, arduous process.
And it should be, really. While it would be a lot easier if we could just walk up to our adoption agency, request a child, and go home with one, deep down I’m glad it’s not that simple. Adoptive parents should have to prove that they’re worthy and capable (as much as a social worker is able to ascertain that from a few interviews and pay stubs) of the privilege of raising another parent’s child.
Eighteen months after attending the adoption expo that led us to our agency, we are in the final leg of that process. May 7, we will hit our six-month mark of fostering Teddy. On that day, we can file paperwork with the Baltimore County Court to petition to become Teddy’s legal parents. We had the choice to hire an attorney to file for us or take a seminar to learn how to do it ourselves. Given the cost of an attorney and how straightforward it appears to be to do everything ourselves, it was a pretty easy decision.
I just wish it were as simple as filling out a stack of paperwork. I would happily write our names, address, and social security numbers a million times if that meant I could complete the requirements myself. Unfortunately, as with our home study, finalization requires input from others. And “others”—particularly bureaucratic others—don’t always run on my timetable. I have to order a certified copy of our marriage license (which I don’t understand, since with our agency you don’t have to be married to adopt). We have to get new letters from our physicians stating we’re in good health because the letters we submitted for our home study are more than a year old. We have to get a letter from Teddy’s pediatrician stating he’s in good health and up to date on his immunizations. (Our pediatrician truly surprised me here—I had a letter within 24 hours of leaving a message requesting one.)
And our agency needs a couple weeks to review it all.
I’m just grateful we don’t have to redo our background checks!
The court visit itself will be momentous for us, but rather perfunctory in how it plays out. We’ve been told the whole process takes five to ten minutes. We present our request (although the judge, recognizing that we’re not pros, will likely walk us through that part), the judge will ask us a few questions, and then he or she will decree the adoption final. We’ve been told we can request a photo with the judge, which is something I never would have thought to do, but seems like a no-brainer now that it’s been mentioned.
We’ve been told to dress like lawyers, since we’re technically representing ourselves in court. And yet, we’ve been told not to be nervous because this is likely the judge’s favorite part of the day. In all other cases, someone has broken the law in some way. With us, the judge gets to create a new family.