My sister in law is having a baby. She’s due in two weeks and in two weeks (or earlier, hopefully not later for her sake), she’ll head to the hospital where she will give birth to my sweet niece. I’m so excited to be an aunt and meet my niece. When she is born, they will hand her to Amanda, and everyone will know that Scarlett is Amanda’s daughter. No questions. There will be no trial period to see how Scarlett adjusts to being a part of her family. No one coming to their home to supervise her adjustment. There will be no in-between; From the moment that Scarlett is born, she is legally handed to Amanda’s as her daughter. Her last name will be on her birth certificate. She is her daughter in the eyes of the hospital staff, friends, family, strangers…and in the eyes of the law.
On December 30, 2013 my daughter was handed to me for the first time. But when Gracie was handed to me, the formalities were very different than a delivery room. I signed a stack of paperwork and instead of laboring and birthing my daughter, she was handed to me by the woman who felt her kick for 8 months, who was wheeled into surgery for a C-section, and who, just an hour before Grace and Cason were handed to us, had signed away her rights as their parent. When Gracie was handed to me, the eyes of the law viewed me, not as her parent, but as her guardian under supervision of our agency. Of course, in my heart, along with everyone else’s heart, Gracie and Cason became my children in that moment and have been this entire time. But for the past six months, the law has kept us in limbo – under supervision – waiting the minimum required six month period until Aaron and I could legally become Cason and Gracie’s mom and dad with our names on their birth certificates.
On August 1st Gracie will put on the blue dress Aaron picked out for her and Cason will wear the kaki suit that my granny bought for him. We will drive an hour to the courthouse and Aaron and I will stand in front of a judge. What happens while standing in court before he claps his gavel, I’m not exactly sure.
For me, I imagine it will be like the emotions from the pushes of labor right before birth. Minus the cursing from the pain, crushing Aaron’s hand, and, ya know, a baby coming out of me. But I’m sure I’ll be a hot mess. The court room will be my delivery room. Then, when the gavel hits the podium and a judge says it’s so, there will be no more questions. No more supervision. No more guardianship. It will be as though I had just given birth and my children are placed in my arms and I will be the parent in the eyes of the law just like every mother that births a child.
I’ve never experienced giving birth. I’ve never even experienced pregnancy. I’m believing I’ll be pregnant some day but that’s no guarantee. I may never have a physical birth experience. That’s why this finalization, the act of appearing in court and the ceremony of it, means so much to me. This is my birth experience for my children. In the moments that I am standing in court, that will be my labor and the moment our adoption is final will be my birth experience. This half a year under agency supervision, I’ve never feared that our kids would be taken away. I have no reason to be afraid. I have been their mom, no question about it, this entire time. But when that gavel hits, it will be the moment when I hold my kids and breath the sigh of relief that according to the state, and the law…
…these kids are Bunkers.