Then my co-worker asked, "what's going to change? What can you do now?" I didn't know how to respond, at first, so she continued "Can you add him to your insurance?" I confirmed that I could. Although, I have to admit that it won't be first on my list. His insurance through the state is actually pretty good and he's entitled to keep it until he turns 18. I listed a few things that we could do like adding him to our dental, changing his name (that will be at the top of my list), and saying goodbye to the system, in general. I pointed out that we will now receive a monthly subsidy to assist with living expenses. This is because he is classified as "special needs." (Translation. Because there are so many children in the system; if a child is black, part of a sibling group, or over 8 years old; the child is considered special needs in Florida. P.S. This is very sad.) The subsidy and the free college were both things that we had no idea about when we started the initial process with the boys; but, man, have we been grateful for it. I said that we could do all that stuff. And, we moved on to the next question.
"Are you going to have a big celebration for him?" I felt bad when I said "Well, we usually go to lunch." Sadly, this lunch will be on a smaller scale because we have to travel to Fort Myers for the finalization, instead of finalizing locally. Although, I'm sure we will get together with the rest of the family at some point. The fact is, I would love to have a huge celebration. I would've loved to have one each time. But, when we became parents, we gave up having extra money to throw parties and extra time to plan them. So, a lunch will have to do. But, lunch works out because we all love to eat, after all. :) I added that he's been with us since the end of June so it's kind of a technicality. I said this to imply that we had already celebrated, which we have, in our own way. We've celebrated by doing what families do. We've watched TV together. Played games together. And argued about homework together.
But, is the finalization really a technicality? No.
And, will anything change? Yes.
Why does it matter if it's finalized? It's not just an excuse to have lunch. The ability to make sure everyone's last names match. Or the chance to catch up on some bills. It's because it makes it real. Really, really, real. It's the knowledge that just because you didn't give birth to this child, you have complete control and rights to him, just like a biological child. It means that the only difference with this child and my sister's child is that the biological connection is not there. But, it doesn't mean that he's not mine. It means that I don't have to worry when a case worker comes that something will go wrong or that he'll get mad at me for making him do his homework and complain to a Guardian Ad Litem. (He has never done this, by the way.) I know that he'll complain about me many, many times, over the years, but it will be in the same way that other kids complain about their parents. won't be to someone who is paid to care about him. It means that he knows that he is ours. He knows that he is ours, forever. He knows that he belongs somewhere. Sadly, he was promised that before, in his previous adoption, and it didn't work out. But, I think he knows that it's the case now. He knows that it's too late for us to change our minds and that we have no intention of doing so, anyway. It's beyond a choice and has been for a long time. He knows (I hope) that I can't promise that I won't be overly emotional and sometimes unreasonable, but I can promise that I am always going to be there, anyway.
So, after we finalize, will anything change? I don't know. Maybe not in an obvious way. We'll go to lunch to celebrate, but, also, because we need to feed our kids. We'll drive home and tell Antwan and Lizzie about a million times not to make sudden high-pitched noises because it scares Daddy when he is driving. We'll go home and feed our children again. Lizzie and I will go to her Girl Scout meeting if we, miraculously, make it back in time. We'll put them to bed. We'll collapse in exhaustion and then get our second winds and stay awake way too late. I'll wake up in the morning, grumpily, and get them out of bed. I'll nag Patrick to brush his teeth, Antwan to get dressed, Lizzie to eat her breakfast, and William to wash his face. I'll take them to school, wish that I could collapse in exhaustion, but head to work, instead.
It will be like any other day. But, the difference is it will be 100% our day. Our future. Our forever. And, that is worth celebrating. Even if that just means, giving hugs as I rush them out of the van. And, I might grumble in my head and wonder why it takes everyone so long to get out of the van, but, all the while, I will be so grateful that they are mine to rush.