When we last left off, we had just received news that Cassidy’s adoption hearing was scheduled for the day after we were returning from a vacation in North Carolina. I remembered feeling so excited and talking with Cassidy about what it meant. That Jake and I were going to be her forever mommy and daddy, that we were lucky because we had gotten to choose each other, and that she may not have grown in my belly, but she certainly had grown in my heart.
I went to Gymboree and splurged on the sweetest little headband and dress set. The three of us were still sporting our NC tan’s and got all spiffied up the day of the adoption. The courthouse was just down the road from our home, so we walked there together. Tons of family and friends were already waiting to help us celebrate our new family. They ushered us into a small conference room. Once everyone was seated (or standing since we had so many people join us), they announced the judge. He came in and sat down, chatted a bit with us, went over the adoption documents and then he signed them and handed them over to us to sign. And that was it! We were officially a family. They also passed around an “adoption certificate” that Cassidy signed and then each person there signed as well.
Cassidy’s adoption worker gave her a teddy bear and a large pencil shaped pencil holder with flowers and balloons. And then we all posed for pictures, along with the judge and the rest of our families. That was it! We were now officially parents and Cassidy was officially ours!
As a way to help Cass wrap her mind around what was going on with her life I use to tell her a bedtime story of her life story. She loved hearing it and asked me often to tell her it. Shortly after her adoption I put it into book form so that anyone could share her story with her. I shared her Adoption Book a few years ago on this blog.
We decided to wait to have birth children to give Cassidy time to adjust and to really learn that she was going to be with us forever. After two and a half years we had our first birth child and Cassidy was so happy to be a big sister. Two years later we had our last child. They have grown up knowing that Cassidy did not grow in my belly, but came from another woman’s. Someone who was unable to care for Cassidy. It is not something we hide. We told Cassidy it is up to her who she tells, if anyone. Each September 1st we celebrate her Adoption Anniversary. We celebrate the fact that we were lucky enough to find each other. All three of my children are amazingly close. My four year old is so completely in love with her big sister, she idolizes her and constantly states how much she loves her. I love to see how completely a part of our family Cassidy has become. My name and my husbands name is on her birth certificate, WE are her parents, for better or worse. We are linked for the rest of our lives and I am so incredibly happy that we were able to give this child a home, but more so the love that she deserves. She is JUST like her father in so many respects, with a healthy sprinkling of me in there. Although it is neat to see her and her birth sister together – the way they walk, the way they talk, their hand movements and head movements are identical, yet they never even lived together. It’s that age old question of nature vs nurture… I think there’s a 50/50 split after watching my child!
Obviously this is a condensed version of our story. There is a lot of stuff in between – paperwork, meetings, several different social workers depending on the phase of the process we were in. Dealing with DCF was not always easy and could be very frustrating at times, but we held our own. Cassidy is now 13 years old. She is thriving and is still one of the most positive people I know. She is a healthy child. It has been proven that the first years of life are very important and trauma from that time can effect a person for the rest of their life, unconsciously or otherwise, Cassidy has continued to flourish and we are prepared to take whatever steps are necessary should issues arise. We are committed to providing her with the healthiest, happiest, supportive home life possible and are excited to continue to watch her grow!
I want to note that becoming Foster parents is not an easy task. It can be extremely emotional and gut wrenching. We became foster parents with the intent to adopt so only applied for one child in our home. After Cassidy was adopted we let our license lapse. My parents were foster parents for 7 years, beginning when I was 14. We had many children come through our home during that time period. The first was my sister, Cassidy’s oldest birth sister. She was with us for three full years before her Mother’s rights were TPR’d and she was released for adoption. At the age of 10. It was a long road for my sister; she went home numerous times, and each time she took a piece of us with her.
I remember one time I went to bed, and when I woke up my mom told me DCF had called her and she had run to their office, picked up a young girl and came home, at around 10 pm. The girl slept at our house and my mom brought her back to the DCF office at 7:30 that morning. I never even met her. Or you get the children that you have in your home, in your family, for a year or more. You bond with them, grow to love and adore them, only to have them go home to their birth family. That is typically the goal for these children – to be returned to their birth family, if possible. That happened to us. We had a little boy that we absolutely loved, he was 4 years old and just the sweetest little thing. After a year, he was sent home to his birth mother. I’ve never seen him again. That was heartbreaking for me. But if you have the strength and love in your heart, I encourage you to give a child a place to call home. There are thousands, THOUSANDS of children without homes, without families, without love, and if you can change just one of their lives, then you are helping make the world a better place.
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Kim is a Marketing Director by day and Crafter/Blogger by night. She's a mom of three beautiful children and two fur-babies, a Goldendoodle and a rescued Pibble. For even more Inspiration Made Simple, like her on Facebook and Instagram+.