Today is shaping up to be a busy day. We have a package at the post office that I have to pick up (along with stamps and a money order.) Why the money order, you ask? Because I have to travel to the courthouse to have our marriage license changed and reissued and they wont take cash or check. Why does your marraige license have to be changed, you ask? Ah... Now there's a story...
I'm adopted. If it were only that easy... I was abandoned as a baby and my (later-to-be adoptive) father's grandmother was given temporary legal guardianship. (I was left with her and it was "temporary" for two reasons: in the event my biological mother returned or if the on-the-birth-certificate-"unknown" biological father was somehow made aware of my existance and petitioned for parental rights.) So, for 10 years, this was the arrangement. Then my grandmother died. Now, you would think that in 10 years, if someone was going to lay claim to me, they would. My (adoptive) parents went to court and petitioned for adoption and the judge, in his infinite wisdom (not that I'm still bitter) denied them! His reasons: see the reasons above. Maybe... Possibily... At some time... My biological parents might want to "assert their rights". Really? After 10 years? My mother was a mess. Their attorney, in a last ditch effort, asked the judge to continue the temporary legal guardianship status, which he agreed to do, as long as it was renewed annually. So, each and every year, my parents (who were not even close to making ends meet... in the 90s when I applied for college, my financial aid application listed $17,000 as their yearly combined income and that took care of them and my little brother and I) hired their attorney and went back to court and sat through hours of nonsense only to stand up, say their peace, and have the judge continue to order. And, several times a year, my mother would have tearful breakdowns, convinced that, for whatever reason, I would be "taken away": either someone would come back and try to lay claim to me (although, I told her time and time again, after a day, they'd bring me back and gratefully sign over paternity ;) ) or that the judge would decide we were too poor... Something... Anything... After all, who would have expected them to lose the first adoption request? Each year, the lawyer did the same thing: request an adoption, which the judge turned down, and then request the order be continued, which the judge granted. (Why are certain people family court judges???)
I turned 18, got married, moved away. You'd think this would be the end of this. After all, they were my parents. They always were. They are the ones who took care of me. But, one day, I got to thinking. I wanted to be adopted. I wanted to LEGALLY be their child. After all, I was that way in deed and action, why not in the eyes of the law? Who was that judge to deny that small thing to us? What right did he have to somehow cheapen our mother-father-daughter-sister-brother relationships? So, I talked to Peter and decided to pursue an adult adoption. I found an attorney in Tennessee (my home state) who actually had some experience with it and wasn't that far from my parents (about an hour, a county over). So, then I called him. I explained our situation and he told me that he could make it happen. Peter and I arranged a visit to Tennessee, since I'd have to present in court, and then told my parents we were making the 800+ mile trek. They thought it was a simple visit. The morning we were due in court, I told them that I had planned a special breakfast at a special restaraunt. We drove the hour, them wondering the entire time where the hell we were going. When I pulled into the courthouse lot, I finally came clean. My mother cried. My father was speechless. We met the attorney inside and were right away taken into the judge's chambers. My attorney explained why we were there and petitioned for an adoption with a retroactive maiden name change. In moments, the papers were signed and legally I was adopted. My old maiden name was erased, replaced with my parent's last name. A few weeks later, I received my copy of the adoption decree and a certified copy of my new birth certificate. It was done.
Of course, in order to get things with my new maiden name on them, I still have to go through the hassle. This happened back in early 2000 and I still havent had our marriage license changed. But, it just so happens that I have no clue where our original one is and we need a copy for the foster parenting paperwork... There's no time like the present! So I have to whip out all my paperwork and haul it to the courthouse to have the license redone. Fun times. Even though I've emailed them and found out what I need, I have no doubt that nothing will be easy and I'll have to explain (several times) what I need and why. But, hopefully, by the end of the day, I'll have a new certificate with my real maiden name on it. :)
Then, of course, it's the grocery shopping I haven't done this week... We may actually starve if I dont get to the store. Seeing as I'm slightly overweight (okay, more chunky than I'd like- even with my pregnancy weight), I probably wont starve. But my husband, who is a stick man... He might. So I have to do some grocery shopping. (After I've cleaned out our dirty fridge... Wait... That's why I haven't done the shopping yet... I really dont want to clean out the fridge!) And, have I mentioned the never ending pile of laundry? I mean, wow... Working must have really let it pile up, because I still have 2 loads of delicates left to wash and dry.
And, in a nutshell... That is my day. I've already ordered flowers for a family in mourning and had a good cry (again). I'm showered and dressed (seeing as it was 2pm yesterday before I managed this, I'm considering it a feat!). I read a story to the babies (I like to imagine our three little saints in my arms with their siblings listening attentively in-utero) and we listened to their heartbeats. And, happy housewife that I am, I made my husband breakfast this morning before scooting him off to his gainful employment! I'm feeling quite productive!
It is so interesting to hear about your history as an adoptee and your efforts to finalize that adoption as an adult. Seeing how nerve-wracking it can be for adoptive parents waiting for finalization, the idea of your mother being afraid of having you taken away all your life is horrible. The system really failed your family along the way, but good for you for figuring out a way to make your family officially permanent.
Well it seems like a hassle, but one worth it huh? Seems like things are going good for you and I'm so happy about that!
Wow, that is so cool that you persued the adoption as an adult. What a wonderful gift to your parents!!
Oh Michele, that's an incredible story. I LOVE the end part where you surprised your beautiful parents. I wish you a smooth passage at the courthouse, though like you said, these things never run smoothly! Now when are you going to get on twitter so I can keep up with you all day? xxx
what an awesome thing you did!!!!! I am also adopted. I did not know my father, but grew up w/ my birth mother living in the same house...weird..huh?
New reader here, (bout a weekish?) just wanted to say, Hey, you need to rest. :o) Kandi
What a wonderful story and what an amazing gift. I was hanging on every word as I read your story. thank you so much for sharing. I cannot believe what you had to go through and how insensitive that judge was..
You are an incredible woman that I am honored to know.
what an awesome, amazing and inspiring story!! its amazing all the hoops and loops you have to go through just to validate your adoption.
Good on you!!
Wow, that was a lovely story. Hope all your errands of the day went smoothly. From when will you have to take it more calmly?
I am also a new reader and spent half of Tuesday reading and crying through your archives. I am so sorry for the loss of your perfect little babies and I am praying that this pregnancy will last all the way to full-term babies. God bless!
I love your adoption story. I've been reading for awhile now, I was so enthralled with the archives that I couldn't possibly stop reading now. You're due your happy ending.
PS- I was adopted (sort of). Parents divorced, mom forced me to be adopted by stepdad at age 8. I ran off and got married at age 20. I often contemplate getting my maiden name switched back but I think my mom would have to be involved in that process and she'd not have it at all. I probably could just do it like a name change though. Just stirs up too much when I start retelling the story now.
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