The day has finally come that we have been waiting for - our boy is legally ours and his brothers are legally with the Heberts! We have been waiting to exhale and now we finally can. And here's the weird thing, while I am certainly breathing better that he is officially part of our family, I have found the exhale, the place where we breath better knowing he is our son, a bit difficult. It seems odd, doesn't it? The moment that we have been waiting for and I still find myself holding my breath.
I can't put my finger on why that it is. I think part of it is truly fatigue over a process that has gone on way too long. Or it could be that it is all still so sad to me. I found myself tearing up in the middle of the adoption, but not in a celebratory, happy tears kind of way. It was during the part where the attorney read off all the court's actions to sever legal ties to his birth mom and birth father. It still rocks me to the core how they will never fully know this gift that was entrusted to them and through their actions they have squandered. I'm not sure if I will ever shake the burden and the sorrow of that reality.
And maybe another reason is that things don't feel any different. From the minute he came into our home, he has felt like our son. He has been a Baxter in so many ways that this legal hurdle that we cleared feels like just that - another hurdle. Maybe our hearts and our minds are conditioned at this point to anticipate another hurdle to come because it has been all we've ever known with him. Lots of obstacles, fear, and worry, mixed with the heart knowledge that he is our son and nothing changes that. It's amazing how our hearts and minds are trained through the struggle and how when we are offered freedom from a difficult situation, it is hard to learn how to live in that freedom.
The truth is March 17, 2017 did changes things. St. Patrick's Day - what a fun day to be adopted! We have certainly enjoyed that connection as we have all proclaimed it's our new lucky day. Shannon has even declared that St. Patrick must be the patron saint of adoptions! I love it. And when I think about St. Patrick and what he did for the Kingdom of God, it gives me chills to think that the day we honor him is now the day that we honor our boys. St. Patrick was known for driving out the darkness in a world that needed the light of God's love. He is known for bringing the good news to a whole nation because he was willing to invest in their lives.
You could say that it is fitting, that the day our boys were offered stability for the first time in their lives was on St. Patrick's Day. We have been given this enormous privilege to be the gift of light and redemption to these precious boys who may not have known it without us. And it is true, we love them so deeply before their adoption was official because we have chosen to invest in them wholeheartedly not knowing how it could end. But by the grace of God have we been able to do that! Perhaps what is more fitting though, is how they have driven out the darkness that lies within us as their caregivers - the darkness of selfishness, fear, and privilege. And they have delivered to us the good news of selflessness, trust and sacrifice.
The judge turned to us before signing off on the adoption and said, "Remember he will inherit some things from you and you will inherit some things from him." Truer words have not been spoken. I cannot begin to tell you how much my family and I have inherited in these two and half years from our little man. And I am so grateful that it seems he has inherited a great deal from us as well.
It was indeed our new lucky day. You see the story doesn't always end this way. Many of our friends know the bittersweet reality of sending children that they love so deeply back to live with relatives and their stories are just as beautiful and redeeming as ours. We are lucky that we have a support system that is so large the judge and attorney baffled at the size of the group at the adoption. And the crazy thing is, that group probably quadruples if everyone could have been there that has supported us and loved us along the way! We are lucky that while the journey has been long and difficult, the boys have offered so much joy, they've inspired the tenacity in us to see it through. We indeed are lucky.
More has changed than I even fully grasp at this point. Asa James Baxter, aka Sugar Ray, is officially a Baxter. That right there is a big change because now everyone knows his name.
I can't wait to fill out his first school papers with his name on them or for the doctor's visit where I actually have all of his insurance cards and information. No more explaining to them that he is a foster child and I simply don't have access to the things a parent would normally have.
I have already experienced the joy of introducing him as my son and not feeling the sting of the reality that he isn't quite yet.
And while our relationship dynamic has not changed, things are definitely different. We are the ones who have sole responsibility for this child now. We are his parents and he is our son not only in our hearts, but in the eyes of the law and the world. Hallelujah, thank you, Lord, for this most precious gift you have given to us through him!
On St. Patrick's Day, we wear the color green as a symbol of renewal and the promise of new life. That truth alone is worthy of a full exhale from me. This day represents the new life we have found in each other and always will. Every year we will don green with a whole new understanding of the work of God in the life of our family - and we are guaranteed that the world will celebrate with us! We are lucky, indeed!