It was a beautiful fall day and we met the photographer at a local winery for our first official family pictures. The plan was to take our pictures before we went to the court house with with her also accompanying us there.
We would be meeting our attorney at the courthouse before our hearing time, a woman we have only corresponded with over the phone and online. In the past ten months we have worked closely with two attorneys, both amazing women. She was just as I imagined.
While sitting in the court room she shared two things she learned through her journey of parenthood. First, rather than saying “no” when a child misbehaves she said she learned to tell her children, “we don’t do that“. When a child learns the word “no” they will quickly begin telling us “no“, which honestly becomes old very quickly! “We don’t do that” is a sentence and therefore is something they cannot repeat for quite some time. And, let me tell you, she is very correct. Even Adam and I don’t swim in the dog’s water dish, so we feel really good about saying “we don’t do that!“.
Next, she said when she got older she wished that she did not react as loudly when her children misbehaved…especially in public. We all know this to be beneficial. We know that if we speak quietly they will, themselves, be more likely (but certainly not guaranteed!) to quiet down to listen. The question is if I’ll have that self-control!
I have only ever gone to court for medical cases, for situations that I was not emotionally entangled with. To say that our emotions weren’t high would be false. We were excited for days before!
The five of us (our attorney, Lainey, Adam, myself and our photographer) went in to the courtroom shortly before our hearing time. We all stood when the judge came in. It was then that he asked for another case to be moved before us due to a translator being available at that moment for that person. It was surreal. This brief picture of this judge’s day reminded me of how family practice in medicine is on most days; it is so variable. The first case was a non-English speaking person with a large bill to a company that she did not pay and therefore was turned to collections. Her story was that she didn’t have enough money and had other bills to pay. You can imagine his verdict. Next on the docket: a nice young family adopting a child. #whocouldthathavebeen? And, then following us was a criminal case involving a sudanese gentleman. NOBOREDOMALLOWED.
The judge asked everyone to leave the court room except for us for our hearing. After being sworn in, all of the little details surrounding Lainey’s birth were discussed between our attorney and the judge. Lainey’s adoption is open….but kind of not (in a way) as there are details that are private and we want them that way for both her and her birth parents. I was so very thankful at that moment that he asked all of those people to leave that room. He asked us each what we see when we look at Lainey. He asked us each what we see when we look at each other. I saw my daughter. She is beautiful. I saw an amazing man. A wonderful father that is in love with this little girl that I was holding on my lap.
It felt much like our wedding day, some 19 years ago. We vowed to care for her physically, emotionally and financially. He came down off of the stand and congratulated us. He shook our hands. And, met the star of the show…
We literally had our two copies of the adoption decree within 15 minutes.
And within two weeks her birth certificate arrived, something we hadn’t seen yet! Adam took a picture and sent it to me at work as soon as the mail came.
364 nights ago I cried myself to sleep. Our alarm was set for 3:45 am so we could be sure to leave the house in time to be at the hospital in Kearney early enough for the D&C as our fourth child had passed, a daughter we later named Lainey Lynne’. We knew that was the last pregnancy I would ever have. We were at the lowest point of our life.
Tonight, my daughter is sleeping soundly in her room. She’s been sick this past week so I can hear a faint cough occasionally but quite honestly? It’s a beautiful sound. She’s freaking amazing. Everything about her is crazy amazing! She’s for real. It’s real. This is all real. It is December 1, 2015 everyone and Lainey Noelle is still here. At our home. She never left. No one ever came to take her away. It wasn’t a joke. She’s ours. We are her’s.
All of this, this whole journey that started on January 21st? It is forever.