Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Big Day for Mary Jane!

October 12th was a key day in the Erb family. Today was the day that Mary Jane officially (legally) became a member of our family. While there were no doubts as to her being a part of our family (ever see how she beams when Mommy or Daddy come walking through the door after a long day of work?), there's nothing quite like the specific paperwork involved in an adoption. So after ten months of caring for Mary Jane, we would be officially be claimed as parents.
An entourage of family and friends came to witness our great day. First of all, Jill's parents as well as her Aunt Nita came out from Arizona and stayed for a few days. They were out here for the surprise 40th birthday party for me (indeed a surprise) and stayed to watch the courtroom drama set for Wednesday. My sister Patricia as well as their father Mel came out to see it as well. For those who don't know, Mary Jane was named after John's mother (and Mel's wife of many years before she passed in 1996). Karen and Shannon, Jill's friends through adoption networking, were there as well to support us on our grand day. Truly until one has gone through the trials and tribulations of adoption, the ultimate joy could never be fully measured.
As most people know -- whether we told them directly or the anecdotes were passed on by others -- Mary Jane was not our first attempt at adoption. It took almost two years to get a match (the agency we originally used really didn't help us and didn't even try to expand our adoptability standards... oh well, no props for them) and then when we did, the birth mother was overdosed on opiates. We were literally packed and ready to fly to New Orleans within two hours when we received work on that. Saying No was the most difficult decision of our life. This drama was followed by two other failed matches in the fall of 2010. We believe both birth mothers kept their babies (as well as some payment from the agency) which is perfectly legal for them but heartbreaking for us. Finally when we were at our lowest point in the process and having extreme doubts, Mary Jane entered our lives. Through Jill's adoption networking friend, Shannon, we were connected to Mary Jane's biological grandfather and after a few more calls, we were there in Victorville those fateful days in early December. She was born on December 7, a date never again to be known in infamy. But of course this wouldn't be as easy as showing up and having the judge tap the adoptive parents with a magical sceptre and end happily ever after. The judge who was supposed to oversee this blessed event was out for the day (another roadblock!). Thus we were relocated to a different floor and there we sat inside the courtroom for quite a while. Tick tock, tick tock. Oddly enough no other adoptions were being finalized that day. The other people sitting in the courtroom -- lawyers, plaintiffs, etc. -- were probably wondering why a man and a woman with two babies in a stroller were with a group of 10 people in the courtroom. The State vs. Cute Girls, maybe? Maybe sticking one's tongue out at a camera is a crime in some cities, who knows?
After another relocation to the annex building we went to room K (a chuckle by all the Mary Star grads who may read this) and there we waited for another 30 minutes. At some point during this time that picture of Pat and Aunt Nita was taken. There was a bunch of jurors waiting for another room (I'm guessing 12 of them but then again there must have been alternates as well) and they walked by to take a look at Mary Jane and Betsy Jo who were biding their time outside the courtroom in the open-air annex. Clearly their boring day was enlived by the realization that at least one cute little baby girl would be finalized that day.
Finally everyone was brought into the courtroom. It was fairly quick as Jill and I stood in front of the judge's desk along beside our lawyer Jan. This was the first time we had met her in person as she's from Lompoc. Yeah, there's a drive: Lompoc to Santa Monica! But she was invaluable to our efforts. She helped expedite the paperwork problems created by the Arizona lawyer for Betsy Jo. I held Mary Jane -- who at this point was overdue on a nap by about 30 minutes and had chugged down her next bottle -- who squirmed a little bit but was quite complacent. The judge flipped through the paperwork and asked us some questions. I wasn't too nervous; I was more in awe of all that was surrounding me. Those empty jury chairs sure looked comfortable. Finally I signed a document and I couldn't even remember the date. Yes, one day after I turned FORTY (yikes), I couldn't even remember the day after my birthday. The judge then granted us legal protection of Mary Jane and she is now subject to being our beneficiary. So if Jill and I suddenly die in a horrific car crash and it looks like our brake lines were cut... hmm... Mary Jane gets custody of five rabbits, a younger sister, and two of my bowling balls.
As the judge declared us legal parents, the rest of the courtroom cheered aloud. Some people even stood up to cheer. Quite funny to think that some of them might have had their own major legal wranglings to deal with on this day but shed their own woes to applaud our efforts. It couldn't have been a more beautiful day: blue sky, slight ocean breeze (well, we were two blocks from the ocean), and my wife holding my hand. OK, so that wasn't perfect parallelism, but who do you think I am, an English teacher? Oh wait...
Betsy Jo's finalization? Hmm... to be continued.

1 comment:

ruth said...

Yay, Erb family!