If you had asked me last year during November, National Adoption Month, I would have told you that we should definitely have Traevin’s adoption finalized by 2014. He had been with us for almost a year at that point and had been legally free for adoption for nearly 6 months. Well, a year has now passed and we’re still waiting. Traevin has been in kinship/foster care for 672 days and sometimes, it seems like finalization day will never come. This year as National Adoption Month begins, I can’t help but feel tired, frustrated, and disappointed.
We have a home visit with our social worker each month and at our last visit, she delivered the news that our adoption definitely wouldn’t be finalizing in November. It felt like a punch to the gut. I was crushed. So many times over the last 22 months, I’ve told myself that I shouldn’t set expectations as far as our adoption timeline goes, yet I can’t help but keep thinking to myself, “Oh, it should definitely be finalized by then…” only to be disappointed as we blow past each of those imagined finalization dates: before Traevin’s first birthday, summer, fall, two years of National Adoption Month. Soon his second birthday will be here and at this point I’m not holding my breath for a December court date.
I think back to this time last year and I remember how positive I felt during National Adoption Month. Traevin was legally free for adoption. We had been assigned a Child and Family Services Permanency Worker just a few months earlier. We were about to start our home study. My husband had written a beautiful piece for National Adoption Month that was featured in Carrie Goldman’s 30 Adoption Portraits. We were excited! Things were moving forward! Our adoption finalization from kinship/foster care was like a carrot being dangled in front of me and I was eager to chase after it, dutifully completing paperwork, attending training sessions, sending in documents, booking appointments. Now I feel like an old, tired nag and the carrot is wilted and is starting to smell a little funky…
I was venting my frustration to a close friend and she asked, “Well, why does it matter when you finalize? He’s already with you! Isn’t it just a piece of paper?” While it might seem like a trivial part of the process to some, it’s a big deal to us and has a substantial impact on our daily lives. We’re not legal guardians to our son. If he has a medical emergency, we can’t make medical decisions for him. We can’t sign any legal documents as his parents. We can’t travel outside of our province (let alone country) without significant notice, a mountain of paperwork and approval from the Director. We carry a binder full of documents in his diaper bag in case we need to prove to someone that he’s supposed to be with us. And on top of all of that, it just feels different. To us, it’s much more than a piece of paper.
I know that the adoption team at our local Child and Family Services works incredibly hard and that they’re stretched thin as far as time and resources are concerned. I just wish the entire process could be more efficient and streamlined. I wish our adoption would finalize already so that we can get on with the rest of our lives.