Tomorrow We Finalize
Since we are adopting older children, the preparations for the finalization have felt a little tricky. The kids have been having lots of feelings, resulting in a sort of pushing away followed by a pulling close. Clinging tightly to me one moment, then saying or doing something hurtful the next. At the same time, I’m having my own feelings about it all. Kind of like before you get married: it’s not that you expect it to all be different, but in a sense, it all is different following the ceremony.
It feels really important to us to mark this day as special, and we do intend to mark it annually, though who knows what curveballs life might bring. On the one hand, we want to let Missy and Buddy know that we are thrilled (or ecstatic, to use the word from our therapists’ feelings chart!) about their adoption, that they’ll be a part of our family forever. On the other hand, they are both in their own ways grieving loss and we want to hold that with them and create a space where that is ok. I couldn’t find too many resources for ways to mark the finalization with an older child adoption, so I hope that in writing about it maybe someone might find it helpful.
For the day itself, we opted to keep it low-key. We will meet our attorney and my in-laws (one set of grandparents, the other set will continue to be biological grandparents, since this is a kinship adoption) at the courthouse bright and early. The kids know what they’re wearing and we have role-played a little bit with them (helpful article here). Following the actual finalization we’ll get something to eat at a breakfast/lunch place that we just love. It’s very kid-friendly, and breakfast is always a big hit with our kids. We figured this way it doesn’t matter what time of morning/afternoon we get out! We’ll head home and have a little rest hour, like we do every day, and then just the five of us will head out for a hike. MrH found this great book and we might try to incorporate a brief ceremony into our hike. It just arrived today though! We’ve rehearsed the plans for the day endlessly with the kids, but they still notice a lot of the unknowns about it all and are a little nervous.
We got them each a little gift, too. At first I wanted to get jewelry for Missy, but we couldn’t think of anything similar to give to Buddy. Instead we settled on a set of dogtags that has their new full names inscribed as well as the date, and then one with a little message from us. My guess is they might just keep it in a special spot, or attach it to the inside of a backpack or something. We also got them each an adoption-themed book (Adoption is for Always and We Belong Together). We’ve been checking books out from the library for months and some seemed worth owning. We’ll add an inscription and hope they help them process this major step. My sister (their birthmom) won’t be there for the finalization, but has been working on photobooks for each of them. She’ll visit on Easter, a nice concrete way of saying “I’ll continue to be in your life.”
I’m so grateful to the network of friends and family who have and continue to support us throughout this process. Creating their permanency plan has been such a long road and it’s hard to believe how far we have all come. I’m so thankful to officially be able to call Missy “daughter,” and Buddy “son,” to put those words out there, rather than just in my heart. I feel a little apprehensive about the general mood of the day tomorrow, but will rest peacefully tonight knowing that we did what we could to meet all of our needs. My prayer over tomorrow would be that it’s a day where they can both feel their grief, and feel the love that’s being poured out over them.