05 December 2014

The Second Set of Adoption Papers (pt. 2)

I've been avoiding writing this second post. I didn't plan to go into so much detail on the last one, but it came out, caught me off guard and all the emotion flattened me. It's taken a while to recover from reliving some of that and then feel strong enough to do it all again. I've told myself this is the last hurdle though. The last hugely painful part of the story to be told. So here goes...

Noah was a unique little boy to adopt for many reasons, but one of the most important was that he wasn't a healthy newborn. He was a 6 month old, medically fragile little boy, who already had a family, was already bonded to that family and had a very meticulous, consistent routine that was responsible for the miraculous level of health he had. He needed a gradual transition to another family and his new parents needed to know every detail of how to care for him, his life literally depended on it.

LDSFS emailed us a lengthy and detailed transition plan that included joint visits while he was still in the hospital, then daily visits in their home after discharge which would taper off as he became more comfortable in his new home. This plan allowed ample time and opportunity for us to teach his last parents every little detail, every warning sign, every cue that would help them care for him successfully. He had a normal, full life expectancy, but that relied on making sure he had extremely particular care for the tumultuous first few years.

The transition plan also included his name. In the hospital this couple told us they wanted to change his name to "Jai" after an Australian actor. I cringed at the thought of him having that name and suggested that if they were going to change Noah's name then maybe they could change it to "Kai", the temporary name given to him at birth and the name we kept as his middle name. We didn't love the idea of his name being changed at all (he was 6 months old) but Kai would certainly be better than Jai. Thankfully, the transition plan said that if his name would be Kai, not Jai.

We were asked when Daniel and I could meet at "that" LDSFS office along with the caseworkers and the chosen couple so we could go over the transition plan in person and make sure everyone understood and agreed to the plan. We agreed to meet early on a Thursday morning.

That morning we dropped Aurelia off at our friends' house, then drove through the dark snowy morning to the office. We fully believed we were meeting to go over the transition plan and had no reason to suspect this meeting was for anything else. We arrived at the office with its nearly empty, snow-covered parking lot and I commented to Daniel that I could guess which vehicle was theirs based on their personality. Daniel said I shouldn't say that, it was rude...but that I was probably right (I was).

We walked into the lobby and met our caseworker. As soon as we sat she said, "They're expecting you to sign papers today." 

................I don't even know what to say. I can't say we were blindsided because we knew this would happen eventually...but not then. We didn't know. We weren't prepared. My first thought was, "No. This is inappropriate. This isn't the way to do this. We need time to prepare." But it all came back to the threat. Do what we're told or he'll be ripped away from us. If we said we weren't there to sign papers, that we were willing to do it but we needed warning, we needed to KNOW that's what we were walking in to, would they just cut us off right then? That's what "that woman" had said. We were stuck between doing what we knew was right for the situation and our family (saying the purpose of the meeting was the transition plan) and doing what we felt we had to to protect Noah's life. We knew he COULD NOT survive being suddenly cut off, there were things his last parents HAD to know about how to care for him. There wasn't much of a choice. Walk out and risk Noah's life, or walk forward into the set trap.

My heart raced. When I walked into this building I didn't know I'd be walking out no longer his mother. We'd be walking out as a family of three again.

We were taken back to the room where his last parents were excitedly waiting. Clearly they knew what was happening. It was a disturbing mix of emotion. I was glad they were happy and excited to be his parents, but disgusted that they were so blatantly joyful in spite of our obvious anguish.

Their caseworker handed Daniel and I a single piece of paper. On it was a sloppily thrown together paragraph saying essentially that we didn't know Noah had medical issues when we adopted him and that we no longer wanted to be his parents. Daniel and I read over it and were shocked. NONE of it was true. We KNEW he had special needs when we signed his adoption papers. We KNEW there was likely more to his diagnoses than had been found at that point, and we DESPERATELY wanted to remain his parents.

We spoke up and told the caseworker, "This isn't true. We can't sign it like this." Her response was, "What do you want me to do? Type up another one?" Honestly I don't remember what was said after that but in my head I yelled, "YES! OBVIOUSLY!" All of this was happening in front of Noah's last parents. I could see them anxiously waiting for us to put pen to paper so they could walk out triumphantly as new parents.

Again, with the threat hanging over us and not wanting to make a scene in front of Noah's last parents, we signed that horrible paper. I hate that horrible, horrible paper, and every last word on it.

Every thing from that point has kind of faded in my memory. I remember leaving the office numb, staring blankly ahead. I remember driving silently down the dark, snowy freeway to pick up Aurelia. 

We were to have a hospital joint visit with Noah's last parents the next day because he was likely to be discharged that night or the next morning. Visits would then start at their home the day he was discharged. We arrived at the hospital for some alone time with him to say goodbye. Our last time alone as a family. Then we waited for his last parents. They live about 30 minutes from the hospital so when they were 10 minutes late I sent her a text double checking that we both had the right time and that they were on their way. Yes, she said, they were on their way. So we waited. And waited. And waited...

When they were about 40 minutes late I sent another message asking if they were almost there, explaining that it was really difficult having our goodbyes drawn out. She responded asking when we were leaving... I didn't really know how to respond. What did she mean "when are [we] leaving?" We were there for a JOINT visit. A visit WITH them. We weren't leaving until they were there. I explained as much. Two and a half hours after our scheduled time they showed up. I knew they had been trying to wait us out. We briefly went over a few things with them. They avoided eye contact. They didn't have any reason to keep up the cheerful act anymore. It was clear they just wanted us gone.

We left still fully (foolishly) expecting the transition plan to be followed, because again, his life literally depended on it. 

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