Monday, July 03, 2006

It's Final

adopt



Thirty-seven years ago today my adoption was finalized. The above picture was taken that day. My mother had sewn the outfit I was wearing, just for the day. My grandmother's friend sent the flowers. I was about 9 months old. When I was born, adoptive parents were not generally permitted to visit their babies in the hospital. My first 5 days were spent entirely in the care of nurses. When I was released, my parents' lawyer and his wife picked me up and brought me to my parents.

When I was 18 my mom gave me copied pages of her diary from the days when she and Dad first learned I would be theirs, when I was born, and when I came home. It filled in some of the gaps I had always wondered about from those days.

My birthday is always a bit odd. I share it with someone I've never seen yet upon whom I depended entirely at one time. I'm told she chose not to hold me because she wasn't sure she could let go if she had. I can completely appreciate that. I worry about this woman I've never met, whose name I don't know. Every birthday I need to draw away for some silent and private time. I need to spend time to reflect and, in my own way, wish this stranger peace and well-being. It's not a time of sadness like some overwrought TV movie of the week might have you believe. I give thanks that she was able to put my needs first since she was not ready to be a mom. I give thanks for my family. It is a strange day though.

July 3rd is my finalization day. There is a purity and clarity to it that my birthday doesn't have. Some decree by a judge isn't what gave me a family. A judge can't issue an edict of parental love and sacrifice. 'Do you promise to swab vomit, kiss boo-boos, braid hair, wipe tears, mend broken hearts, paint the bedroom her favorite color, make photo albums, engage in tickle wars, shop for clothing and listen to music you just don't get, bake cookies together, etc......' Many years ago I had the priviledge of being invited to the finalization for a friend's child. They thought I might like to see what it was like. I really appreciated that thoughtfully offered opportunity. It's a very simple procedure that only takes a few minutes. Parents explain why they wish to adopt, promise to provide for their child, and recognize him or her as a legal heir. After all the home studies by social workers and interviews by people within agencies, after all the probings and scrutiny and the months of first waiting for a child and then waiting for a court date, it's all over in a few words.

Sometimes I become irritated when people suggest or even insist that my family is not my 'real' family. I find it completely misinformed when people expect that being an adoptee is somehow a scarring experience. I become irate when media potrayals in movies or journalistic write-ups find the need to draw negative attention to adoption in a sensational way. But I take a deep breath and try to inform people correctly, reminding myself these attitudes generally come from ignorance not malice.

My mother said it was so hard to wait for the finalization day. She told me how she'd have nightmares of people coming to take me away. 'Sorry, your time is up. She's going back where she came from.' On July 3rd her bad dreams stopped and no one had any right to suggest my family was any less real than theirs.

32 comments:

M said...

I recently had a co-worker whose brother adopted a toddler. She had pictures of her soon-to-be niece all around and came in with stories about her every Monday after spending the weekend with her brother's family.

The birth mom who was very unfit tried to get the adopted girl back and there was some drama.

When the finalization date arrived, the whole family celebrated.

It was the first time I had really seen someone go through the waiting process. You realize how much the new family falls in love with the baby and "adopts" the baby emotionally long before the courts put their seal of approval on the adoption.

Congratulations on your finalization anniversary!! (-:

You were a CUTE, CUTE baby!

Gary said...

I'm pretty sure there are many other cultures that make almost no distinction about whether someone is adopted or not. I think our society would be better if we tried to do the same.

Phaedrous said...

Adoption can be a very special thing. C was an attorney for most of her professional life, and while her specialty was real estate, she would from time to time, help freinds with adoptions. She was extremely proficient at what she did, but nothing brought her more satisfaction than to see the results of a successful adoption.

Celebrate life.

P.

lecram sinun said...

That is a beautiful write. Thanks, Lime.

Cootera said...

Happy Finalization Day, Lime!!!

It's hard for me to imagine there are people who think families with adoptees are somehow less a family than others. But then, it's hard to imagine that GW has been our president this long.

Anyway, looking at that oh-so cute pic of you, it's also hard to imagine that little tiny scalp was going to grow such unruly wild hair!!

barefoot_mistress said...

I never worried before about you being adopted. I've known you a long time, and you seem like a well adjusted adoptee.... XX

But when I saw that pic of little Lime....ohhhhh...I just wanted to adopt you myself..and I had this sadness for all children that need moms and dads, and thankfully there are birth moms like yours who knew enough to give you more than what she could herself, and adopted moms who love you and protect you forever....

Hope todays not too weird for you, it's a weird day for me too, but we can discuss that later...

keda said...

i have 2 friends who have adopted their children. i also have someone very close to me who almost gave up her child for adoption but changed her mind after a month.

that waiting is a frightening time.
i'm with suzy.."thankfully there are birth moms like yours who knew enough to give you more than what she could herself, and adopted moms who love you and protect you forever"

i hope it was a good day. and i'm glad you have such a loving family :)

snavy said...

Happy finalization day!! You were such a cute little baby!!!

We call it 'adoption day' & my grandparents made a big deal of it when my mom was younger.

airplanejayne said...

HFD!!!!

great post - thanks for sharing.

lime said...

m, unfortunately drama happens sometimes. glad it had a happy ending.

gary, may i add my heart amen!

phaedrous, i'm sure it was a wonderful thing for C. i'm glad she could be a part of that. thanks!

lecram, glad you liked it, thank you:)

cootera, sadly there are folks who view it that way. but i know the truth :) and lol@ the hair comment!!

susie, thanks. that was well said...there are lots of kids out there not as fortunate as i was. and i have the utmost respect for my birth mom.

keda, it has to be the most difficult decision a woman could make. thanks for the well wishes:)

snavy, thanks! it wasn't ever fussed over when i was a kid and i still don't but it's a day that makes me smile:)

apj, thanks!

steve said...

What a fantastic post!!

Made my day:-}

Amber said...

Who cares what people say, your family are the people who love you, biological or not. That is such a touching story.

Happy Adoption Finalization Day!!

LisaPizza said...

Your personal tale of adoption has touched me. SidewaysSam and I are planning on adopting, and I often wonder about our future kidlets feelings about their birth mothers. I guess if a child is raised knowing they are loved then the identity questions are a bit smaller. Which I guess is also true for us folks raised by our birth parents. BTW, I noticed you like the "Simon Birch" film. Have you read "A Prayer for Owen Meany" on which it was based? If not, I highly reccommend it, but be prepared for an entirely different outcome to the tale. It is equally touching and enimatic. It's written by John Irving. TTFN

Heather said...

What a well written, thoughtful post on your adoption. It sounds like you have a wonderful mother, a wonderful family.

I found you thru Deerledge and Mels Life...mind if I come by every once in awhile?

lime said...

steve, thanks so much glad to know it made you smile

amber, exactly!

lisa, thanks so much. i certainly wish you and your husband all the best

heather, thanks. you are more than welcome to come by any time:)

Solitaire said...

This touches me more than you know! Thank you for sharing your side of the story. It's never easy for a parent to give their child up, but in knowing that they cannot care for you in the ways you deserve and need... it's something that needs to be done.

Thank you...

lime said...

solitaire, thank you. i've known several women who are birth mothers and i've said thank you to each one. i think they really take the brunt of negative societal attitudes and that's a sad thing. i know there is a percentage who merely abandon children but most of them deserve a respect they simply don't recieve.

James Goodman said...

Lime, they are out of their mind to suggest your family isn't real. I know, I love my father and he loves me, he couldn't love me any more or treat me any more like a son than if I had truly come from his loins. He is my real dad and always will be. I've met my biological father a few years ago, and I've kept a semi-relationship with him since, but we will never have the bond that i have with the dad that raised me.

lime said...

james, amen and amen and amen!

Logophile said...

I have some cousins who joined us through adoption and (as I mentioned to you) we tell THEM they are our favorites, we got to PICK them, we just ended up with the rest of the family.
I am soooo glad you ended up with the wonderful people you had in your life who made some good choices to get you where you are today.

Brian said...

This post really touched me as someone with two adopted children and an adopted sister. Its all about who raises you, is there for you, and takes care of you.

Wonderful post.

Happy Independence Day!

Sis B said...

the beauty of your spirit emanates in your writing.

i always thought that part of what makes it cool to be adopted is that you were chosen, they had to jump through extraordinary hoops, wait through that period before finalization, and there after all that time and effort you were theirs, and they yours. that took a lot more effort than to get knocked up. you have always had to know that you were wanted.

happy finalization day!

(btw, most babies don't look like their adult selves but i can totally see you in your baby picture. i think that means you've retained your youth!)

ttfootball said...

that resemblance comment is SO TRUE! what a cute Lime bud ;)
Such poignant observations, your writing is beautiful

lime said...

logo, i'm glad too :)

brian, that put a big smile on my face. you and your kids are blessed.

sis b, thanks, inever thought my baby pictures were to obviously me.

tt, teehee, thanks. glad you enjoyed.

Breazy said...

Lime thank you so much for sharing that! I know that we are years away but my ten year old daughter swears that she will never have kids because there are too many kids in the world who have no parents for whatever reason and I admire her for making a decision like that at her age , whether this decision will remain with her I don't know but I sure hope so !

60 and counting said...

Living in Indonesia for a number of years, I saw what Gary commented on.
It was nothing for a wealthier family to take, or be offered a child from a poorer family.
My ex wife had 7 'brothers' whom her father had 'adopted'. Not adopted as we know it, as it is not official. My FIL cared for, educated and got good jobs for each of them. It was a life they would not have had otherwise.
To this day, they are still regarded as brothers even though they are not related. Their former family is also regarded as 'distant' family.

:)

lime said...

breazy, wow. what an insightful young lady you have! bless her..

60, thanks for sharing that. what a wonderful example of how it should be regarded.

Sheri said...

what a beautiful post about a very special day for your family. You're right about the finalization being alomst anti-climatic after all the scrutinization that happens. However, for me, it was the day that I could finally exhale.

miss_lissa said...

You were such a cute lil lime,
awwwwww
Happy Belated Finalization day!!

This post made my lip quiver. I know and admire several families who have made the decision either to adopt or to give a child up for adoption.
Families are created every single day in so many beautiful and sometimes sad scenarios. A family is more than blood and DNA. One of my fav. lines about family is actually on Finding Nemo..
when Dory says
"I look at you and I'm home"
Now that is what its all about.

I have a large blood family. But my real family is even larger and I concider myself blessed.
I've often concidered adopting when I'm done my schooling and posts like this just reconfirm my eventual desire.
(hugs) to you!

LisaPizza said...

Hey Lime, I had a Kermit, too! I also had the Cookie Monster. Thanks for your email, and support. I'll keep you posted on all things adoption.

Mark Leslie said...

Thanks for sharing this tale - aww, you were such a cutie (still are, but what a cute baby picture)

I'm adopted as well, but I've never really heard much about my own finalization day. I do know that my Mom (yes, she's my Mom -- though I have met my birth parents and they're great people, my parents will always be my real parents to me) still has nightmares about someone coming and taking me away -- although I'm a bit too big to be carried away anymore . . .

Suldog said...

Lime:

I hadn't read this one before now, so...

Very loving piece, and I'm glad you are at peace with everything. Your parents must be wonderful people, they sure raised you right.

I have two cousins who were adopted. One has handled the knowledge of it better than the other. Once their parents had both died (my aunt and uncle, that is) Eddie seemed to feel a need to search for information pertaining to his birth. He has been disappointed, I think. Heidi, on the other hand, not as much.

In any case, lovely and loving story. I liked it, a lot.