We were getting ready to go to the court house, like we had so many times, in the last year. But, this time it was different. This time the kids were coming along. This time we were all dressed up and smiling. This time, we weren't wondering what was going to happen. This time, we knew that Lizzie was about to legally become our daughter. It had been a long year. There were lots of ups and downs. A lot of sleepless nights. A lot of tears. But, on this day, everything would change. I couldn't guarantee that there would be no more ups and downs, sleepless nights, or tears. But, I could guarantee that when I went to bed that night, I would be Lizzie's mom. And, that was going to be perfection.
When we walked into the courthouse, I couldn't help but look around for the biological parents; even though I knew they wouldn't be there. But, I did see one of their attorneys. She and another attorney stopped to admire Lizzie and the boys. They started to discuss who the kids looked like and call her by her birth name. I was instantly upset. Aside from my gut reaction, it was also a confusing conversation for the boys to hear. Then I realized that after a long year of playing the game, being patient with all the changes, staying silent (because no one was listening anyway); I finally didn't have to. I told them that I didn't want to hear about that on this day. They weren't expecting my response and I didn't understand why they weren't expecting my response. But, they stopped.
We headed to the court room. Family and friends were there. Court house employees were there. Our current case worker was there. Our original case worker who no longer worked for the agency was there. Our attorney was there and the attorney who had refered us to her were there. Many had gotten emotionally involved. The judge came in and the adoption finalization began. For the first time when we stood in front of the judge, he was talking to us. On all the previous court dates, we had stood silently, as events transpired around us. We were there to answer questions on the well-being of the child. We were not required to be there. But, we were. We were there to make sure everyone knew we were there. But, not anymore. Today, the judge was smiling. Everyone was smiling, Today, he made Lizzie our daughter. It was a blur. I remember trying very hard to speak slowly and clearly. I remember trying to hold a restless Lizzie. I remember when he said that she was ours. I remember crying and I remember the bailiff coming to me with a box of tissues. I remember feeling the unexplainable feeling. It really is such a strange thing to love a child as your daughter for months and months before a bang of the gavel makes her your daughter. But, that was what happened and it was amazing, We left that day as a family, just like we were when we walked in, but different. Because for the rest of our lives, no one could come and take her away.
Right after court, we went to lunch with the family. Later, we went to dinner with our friends. We came home and put our kids to bed. I don't remember what I did on September 30th. I know it was a Wednesday. I know William had to go to school and Brian probably went to work. I probably bummed around the house with Lizzie and Antwan. Or maybe we went to the park. The only thing that I know is that I was happy. Really, really happy.
Video of the finalization!