Yesterday Nathan and I met after work and meetings, and we drove to the county where five is from, and met with an attorney.
It seemed so sudden, after all these months, and so easy and quick after such a roller coaster.
But last week five’s dad was served his papers regarding termination of rights, and the paper began publishing the notice to his mom, who is still hiding from the police and not ever been to court in five’s behalf – not even once, in all these months.
How can you look in this little face and not doing anything to help?
How bad does your past jail experience have to be to decide it’s worth it to not show up and claim your child?
These are the hard and bitter questions that sting, questions that may never have mortal answers, and questions that don’t always get asked out loud.
I ask everything out loud.
We talk to the attorney about how adoption works, and what it all means.
She says it means he will get to go to college for free. She says he gets to keep his Medicaid, so that he can maintain his speech and occupational and physical therapies that have brought him so far and caught him up so much. She says we get to name him anything we want.
Nathan hugs me.
We talk about his name. We have talked about his name for a long time. We have talked about it for a long time with five.
She says we should change it all, because he is young and because it is a new beginning.
We are aware his middle name is after his father.
She says drop it, because it is a new beginning.
She keeps saying that, it is a new beginning.
She is adopted, she says. She she knows stuff.
When we have played with names with five, he never chooses one that keeps his middle name.
He really likes his first name, though.
So we settle on keeping his first name as it is, and replacing his middle name with two new names: one from my father and one from Nathan’s father.
It feels right, and five likes it.
She writes it down, disappears, and comes back with a stack of papers.
She says our home study is good, and our fingerprints recent, and our physical health checkups renewed. There is nothing left for us to do. They will get a directive from the state, and then we wait.
In two weeks we have court to present the other parents’ response to getting served. Either they will sign away rights, or they will request a jury trial to terminate rights. If they sign away, then the adoption will be finalized 30 days after that. If they request a jury trial, a trial date will be set in May and then the adoption will be finalized 30 days after that.
I cry again.
We talk about it with him again. I so want to make sure he knows his other parents still love him. We tell him he is a pretty lucky guy to have four parents love him.
What does adoption mean?
It means I get new parents, and I pick you and you pick me.
Why do you get new parents?
Because my other parents made bad choices, even though they love me.
Who gets to be your new parents?
Mama and Daddy, you are my new parents, all the way until I am grown up. Then we can see if my other parents are making good choices.
How long will we be your new parents?
Forever and always, because we are going to the temple where families can be together forever.
You will always be our little boy!
Silly daddy, I don’t want to be a little boy. I want to be a big boy someday.
Even when you are all grown up and older than we are now, you will still be our little boy.
You are crazy hilarious, mama.
He says Daddy because he is our son.
He says Mama because he is our son.
And we cry.
It’s an emotional roller coaster of a day, as we head back home – an hour away from court – to pack for an overnight trip. There is an adversary against us, not wanting us to make the trip, and putting everything in our path to stop us. We have to take the toddler to the doctor, the washing machine stops working, the computer won’t print, we get locked out of accounts on line, it restarts itself to do updates at the worst time, my phone quits working right, the van wouldn’t start, we have to add a trip to the pharmacy for the baby, someone tries to kill us at quick trip, three accidents happen right in front of us in two hours on the interstate, and we finally arrive exhausted and hungry at our condo in Oklahoma City only to discover our room keys don’t work and we literally sit on the ground with babies waiting on the office to send a maintenance man who has to drill off the locks and doorknobs to get us into our rooms, and literally works on the front door while we set up pack and plays and give bottles to the babies and lay them down to sleep to the whir of power tools. Five gets the pull out couch, the teenager gets her own room, and finally Nathan and I collapse in our room after hearing about similar adventures trying to get my brother stopped, too.
But finally we are all here in Oklahoma City, and finally it is morning.
It is finally the day we do my mom’s temple work, even if she rolls her eyes and tells us she is a Baptist.
She is so funny.
For me, it is the one thing I can do for her that she cannot do for herself. For me, it is the final token of restitution. For me, it is the only chance we have at being a family again – and forever.
Doing her temple work today does not make my mom a Mormon. In fact, she doesn’t even have to accept it if she doesn’t want it – we don’t believe it is forced on her. She still gets a choice. But the one thing she wanted more than anything was for us to be a family.
The family proclamation, which my mom loved and studied with me, says:
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
That’s why we are here.
That’s what makes today the biggest day of my mortal life besides the day I married Nathan, because my brother and I will be sealed to our parents today.
And it fills me for love for my family, and it heals up our pain, and lifts from me this heavy burden of grief.
It is happiness, you see?
I get to give my mama one last gift, and I choose to give her happiness.