Thursday, May 5, 2016


       One week ago yesterday, our adoption was finalized. The whole day was a whirlwind, and we weren't expecting to get to finalize that day, but our assigned judge got a cancellation on her docket. I'm not sure how helpful it will be for me to recount the process since every state (and every judge!) does things differently, but here we go:

      At 6:30 AM, my phone started ringing. Our lawyer, in a very excited voice, says "I sent you an email an hour ago! Have you not seen it yet?!" I groggily reminded him that there is a 3 hour time difference between him and us, building up dread for whatever paperwork scavenger hunt he was about to start me on. He apologized, told me to check my email, and then call him back.
     In his email, he relayed the series of events that morning: he had a hearing with the judge we had been assigned to for another custody case, found out that she had an opening on her docket that afternoon due to a reschedule, had another hearing scheduled with her for the slot right before the cancellation, and was going to ask her if we could have that slot (since he was already going to be there with her) if we could scramble to get everything finished up.
    None of the things that we needed to do were that significant, the biggest issue would be the logistical arrangements. That judge is very particular about verifying identities for conference calls. She accepts two options: 1) be with a notary and have the notary speak to the judge to verify who you are OR 2) Facetime (iPhones) you at the beginning of the phone call. Well, my husband was operating all day and wouldn't be able to leave the hospital to go to a notary, and we don't have iPhones. So, I spent a good amount of time giving a Viber orientation (an app that allows video chat between iPhone and Android) so that the judge would approve its use in place of Facetime. She approved the Viber call for hubby, but wanted me to be with a notary.
    About an hour before the cancellation slot, we found out that she was giving us the spot! Our lawyer said that he worded all of the questions so that we would just have to answer "yes." So, I loaded up both kids, drove to the bank. corralled them in to the poor notary's office, and waited for the conference call.
    The actual content of the phone call was pretty uneventful. The lawyer asked a series of questions, including:
      "Do you remember signing the document titled ______________."
      "Do you swear under oath that all of the information in that document was accurate?"
        (repeat the above two questions for a few different documents)
      "Our records show that your adoption fees totaled _______, and that of those fees, ________ were designated as helping with the biological mother's living expenses during her pregnancy. Are these numbers accurate?"
       "Do you understand that today's proceedings will make this adoption final, and you cannot change your mind or undue the court's ruling?"
        "Have you provided accurate and truthful information about yourselves throughout this adoption process?"
        "As a result of your post-placement visits, it was the evaluation of your social worker that it would be in the child's best interest to be allowed to remain with you and for this adoption to become final. Do you agree with this evaluation?"
        He then made a statement to the judge about being satisfied with the answers to our questions and having no objection to or concern about the finalization of the adoption. Then the judge made this formal sounding "I thus decree...." speech finalizing the adoption "permanently and irrevocably from this day forward."

     And that was it. The entire phone call lasted for 5 minutes. The only logistical things left are to get Roo's new birth certificate and social security card. This isn't something that we are doing to try to erase her biological family (I have actually heard this criticism made); it is actually a part of the process that Roo's birth state requires. If an adoption is pending immediately following birth, a valid social security number isn't even assigned to the child. I'm not sure if a valid birth certificate was ever created, but if it was, we were never given it (or even offered it) by the hospital or the agency, because it is state policy that a new birth certificate will be issued following the finalization of the adoption. Our lawyer said that he would be in touch with information for us about how we go about these next steps-- I will update you when we begin working on that!

No comments:

Post a Comment