I’m the type of person who always pictures things in my mind. I’ll think through a room before I set it up-couch in the corner, I need a picture right there, something to pull the color from the rug up onto the walls. Or I’ll picture an event set-up, walking slowly through the scene- if I put a table here, the food here, the line will form this way, then everyone can take their food and sit over there. I run through the details over and over until I’m sure I haven’t missed anything.
I like to have a plan, I like to be prepared, I like to be on time. That’s me.
So before we entered the adoption world, I had it all figured out. We’d adopt a boy, 5 years old, to fit perfectly inbetween our youngest daughter and middle son. We'd always dreamed of adopting a little African-American boy, so, on our adoption application, we said we preferred an African-American child, but were open to any ethnicity. The two boys would share a room, of course. At night, I’d fill up four cups of water and tuck four kids into bed. When I drove in the car, there’d be four little heads bobbing behind me. Our adoption agency said it takes about 1 year to get through all the paperwork, then another year for placement and finalization. In the state of Colorado, a child can be adopted after they’ve been in your home for a minimum of 6 months, plus, there's a "guideline" that says children under 5 should have permanency within 12 months. So, I figured, if we started when our youngest was 2, we should bring home a 5 year old boy by the time she is 3, then officially adopt him 6-12 months later. We had it all figured out, right?
We started the whole process right on time after Lily’s 2nd birthday. We had our trainings done, homestudy finished, and I dropped our application off to Denver county, in person, on December 10th, 2012, just shy of a year since we started. We waited about 4 months, then the phone call came in April of 2013.
“We have a little boy, his name is Jerome and he’s 3 1/2. Can you come pick him up tomorrow?”
"Not the age we wanted," my husband said, "but his name is Jerome, so at least he's African-American."
He was only two months older than our daughter, what would that be like? Will they be like twins? He’s 4 years younger than our son, will they even want to play together?
Plans laid aside.
“Sure, we’ll be there.”
When we got to the Family Crisis Center there was a little hispanic/caucasion boy banging against the glass doors. We walked right passed him and to the lady behind the counter.
"Hi, we're here to pick up a little boy? Jerome?" my husband said.
"This is Jerome," a mid-thirties man said gesturing toward the boy by the door.
Plans laid aside.
"He’s had a tough morning. This little guy can SCREAM!!! We’ve never heard so much screaming before!" and the receptionist and caseworker both gave exhausted chuckles. "Well, have a good weekend! We’ll call you next week to touch base."
And we left….with a child….we knew next to nothing about. And it was hard. The next year and a half we spent driving him back and forth to visits with his birth mom, visits that re-traumatized him, visits in the same apartment where the abuse took place, visits that made it impossible for him to make much progress in our home. We took him to therapy, to the doctor, to a special needs school. We went through 6 caseworkers, 3 therapeutic parenting experts (who were trying to help his bio mom work through her treatment plan), and had over 8 other people involved in his case at one point or another. We were told he was going home, we were told he wasn’t, we were told he was going home, we were told he wasn’t. We were exhausted.
More plans laid aside.
Seventeen months later, finally, parental rights were terminated. That was the end of August, 2014.
We waited for an adoption date. A few months went by, still nothing.
“She’s appealing the judge's decision. You’ll have to wait.”
Not the plan.
Appeal denied but still no adoption date.
“She’s appealing again. It’s going to be a while.”
The months ticked by. We passed the two year mark since he was placed in our home. Still no adoption date.
This was NOT my plan!
We moved into a new home because we needed more space. The two boys couldn't share afterall, Jerome's behavior was too taxing on our older son.
Not my plan!
Finally, last week, we got it.
Adoption Court. September 9th, 2015, over a full year since parental rights were terminated.
The whole journey- from placement to adoption- will have been 29 months. 29 months since we picked him up on that day in April. 29 months where I didn’t know if he was staying forever or leaving the next day. 29 months where I couldn’t make plans.
But now, after all the waiting, not knowing, tears, heartbreak, struggle, I get to plan again. I get to plan the adoption finalization party and I. Am. Thrilled!
We rented out a park and are having a huge BBQ, and will finally have the celebration we’ve waited so long for. And we are inviting everyone who has waited with us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Not my plans. His plan. And I’m finally okay with that.