Joshua and I are asked on a weekly basis the question, “What’s going on with the adoption?” Unfortunately, my response of “We’re waiting on a court date” hasn’t changed in months.
Waiting is something we’ve learned a lot about over the last 6 1/2 years of life with DHS. Most of what we do on a daily basis for children in foster care involves a good deal of waiting. The Department of Human Services is full of (mostly) really great people who are, unfortunately, overworked and underpaid. I have determined that I would offer grace and patience to those I work with as much as is humanly possible, and I do my best to give those hard working people the benefit of the doubt. Most people who go to school to become social workers do not do so because they are evil or lazy, most of them do it because they love people and want to make a difference. Bogged down with paperwork, scurrying around to care for the never ending emergencies, dealing with constant drama from hurting people, handling case loads that are far to big for a single person, and trying to keep their own families taken care of, they deserve all the grace I can bestow. Unfortunately, though, that has left our little family stuck in a crazy long waiting period.
Our daughters moved in with us on June 13, 2013 as a legal risk placement. This meant that there was a high likelihood of termination of parental rights and availability for adoption. Visits with family had stopped months before, and the judge and lawyers were moving towards TPR(termination of parental rights). One year ago next month we attended the TPR hearing for the girls’ parents. In October, the judge ruled for termination. In November, the girls’ mom filed an appeal, and, in March, the court of appeals denied her appeal. We went to court early in March for a 6 month post-TPR review hearing. Every 6 months foster children must be seen by a judge to make sure that all that can be done for the child is being done.
Even though we had just received the ruling from the court of appeals, Joshua and I were not quite sure what to expect in the hearing. We walked into court feeling a tad bit nervous (I’m always nervous in court), but that nervousness melted away quickly as the judge and all the lawyers made it clear that our two girls were OUR GIRLS. They congratulated us, and the mood in court was joyful and exciting. As a formality, the judge set up our next 6 month review hearing for September 8th. She made it clear, though, that there was absolutely no way we would make it that long. The adoption would be final very soon. We were ecstatic.
Our adoption specialist called us, got the last bits of information from us, filled out paperwork in record time, and brought it to our house to sign on May 5. Most courts take a week to 10 days once paperwork is turned in to assign a court date and make the adoption final. Our adoption specialist told us at that time, though, that our judge took much longer. In fact, she had just had a family whose adoption with our judge took 3 months to finalize. I was disappointed, but I was confident that our girls’ adoption would be final before the summer was over. I bought them adoption day dresses, had the dresses monogrammed, found outfits for the rest of the family, and then sat back and waited for the call knowing that we would likely only have a week to prepare for our BIG day once the court date was set.
Our adoption specialist came and visited us in June for a monthly visit and had no news to share with us, but I wasn’t discouraged. I told myself to be patient, at worst we had a court date for September. This was nothing compared to the pain others were experiencing.
She came again in July, and I quietly thought “Let’s meet next time in court!”
She came again in August, and I asked that she check to see if our “review” hearing set for September 8 could be changed to our “adoption” hearing. She said there was a few minor things that she had found out needed to be tweaked in our adoption paperwork, but she was crossing her fingers that this would happen. I called our ad litem attorney (the attorney assigned to represent the girls), and she said she was hopeful but that she could not promise us anything.
Frustration began to arise in my heart, but I pushed it down remembering that across the world parents were watching their children die, people in my own life were struggling with major illnesses, friends were waiting years to MEET the child they were adopting, and, all the while, my girls were with me. The adoption was just a formality.
Now, less than two weeks before our next hearing, I am beginning to accept the fact that we may not finalize in September. I am beginning to wonder just how much longer this might take and the worry is telling me that that unknown date may really be forever away. I really and truly understand that in the scheme of things, this is small. Just a piece of paper telling me what I already know, N. and L. are my daughters, but it worries me.
Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The reality is I AM anxious. I want to post pictures of my precious girls for you all to see. I want to see the name Hurlburt on all of N and L’s legal documents. I want speech therapists and doctors to call them by the RIGHT name. I want to be able to take them out of state without calling for permission or take them to the ER without having to let everyone know they are “foster children” (for serious…they are NOT foster children. They are mine!). I want to put to rest every tiny fear that something impossible is going to happen to derail our forever. I am worried. I am frustrated. I am anxious, and, when I am anxious, I must lay my worries at the feet of my Savior. I have continually put my requests before my Father (though not always with thanksgiving), and I am asking that you, my friends and family, do the same on my behalf. I need a peace that surpasses understanding right now. I need Him to guard my heart and my mind for me.
So, I am asking for prayer. Will you ask, first and foremost, for me to trust that God is in control and that His timing will be perfect? Will you, also, ask that, if it be His will, September 8th will be our adoption day? Will you pray that Joshua and I will have wisdom to push when pushing needs to happen and to wait when waiting needs to happen? And, finally, will you pray that even in this waiting, we will be full of hope and thankfulness?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”