We got into the courthouse without hassle, and when the elevator door opened the Heavens opened and poured love all over my growing family. Everyone came out to be our witness: The sweet group home worker who knew him before I did. The police detective who took all the gruesome hospital pictures when they were still unsure if they were investigating an assault or a murder. The CPS investigator who labored hard over appropriate petitions and indications. The intake worker who coached me through getting him out of the hospital. The management worker who really required a lot more management from me than he ever needed from her, but she eventually got him freed. The attorney who represented his best interests- even when she honestly told me she didn't know if it would be enough to keep him safe. The foster care trainer who opened our home and taught us about making a rocking lifebook. Our attorney, who filed some papers and stroked our egos because we were weary by the time he came in on the case. The adoption worker who called the judge's secretary 98,000 times asking for a finalization date because she knew I was anxious about it. And our friends and family. The judge said we broke the record for attendance at an adoption. We had to, though. This one was special.
We went into the judge's chamber, and verified all our information. He told the judge that he was getting lobster after this as if to hurry her along. She made small talk throughout the 10 minute process, asking about our dogs and his sisters. He decided to share that he would not like any more babies, our cat scratched him "when I was a little kid", and Daddy almost broke my arm this morning (to which I followed up with "They were play wrestling"). It was fun and light hearted. I had been pretty nonchalant about this part. He has been ours for 3 years and 8 months. Adoption wasn't going to change anything. Let me tell you, though, when the judge asked him to sign his adoption papers it was anything but nonchalant. It changed everything. He's mine. No one can do anything about it. It's done. We have the same name. Yeah, I cried like crazy. I made a weird joke about how we'd pay for college and he has to make sure the nursing home is nice to us when we get old. The judge made a weird joke about my green highlights being kryptonite. Old people... He was cool. He's way cooler than me.
We let him play on the tablet and be off in his own world for the drive home and lunch. He was pretty content with his lobster.
Our very first evening as a forever family, I sent him to respite for 4 hours. There is a program that we are involved in who offers planned daytime respite to their clients. They take the kids to a house that has been completely decked out with all things awesome. There's a lego room, a TV room, music room, ball pit, etc. He loves it. The slots fill up quickly every month, so we take whatever they offer us. Adoption day was a use it or lose it offer. I knew he'd have fun, so I agreed to it. I am so glad I did. He went and zoned out in front of the video games, then came back ready for bed.
It hasn't quite set in that this chapter has ended.
Breathing feels easier today.