This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is July 2009.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
It was here! The day we had all longed for had arrived! It was the day of the adoption! We participated in the mass adoption ceremony that is done each month.
The children did not really understand what it meant, though we had tried our best to prepare them. They had met with their counselor, and talked about what adoption means, but they had never known anyone who had been adopted, so their little minds just could not comprehend what it truly meant.
We told them that they would not be the only children there to be adopted, but that there would be many children there, just like them, who would be adopted by their families that very same day. They started calling these other children their “friends”. Our oldest child asked if they would get to go play with their new “friends” after they were adopted. Once again, we tried to explain that even though these children were like them, we did not know them, and we would not see them again after that day. They were confused, but still very excited.
We arrived downtown with a small army accompanying us. My parents, my husband’s parents, friends and other family members were there. We were ready to make everything official!
As we set waiting for the proceedings to begin, I looked at each one of my children. I could not believe this was going to be real! This had been so long in coming! I never could have imagined, with all of the battles we had faced, that this day would be here. And yet, it was.
The judges came in, the attorney speaking welcomed us all, and the ceremony began.
I was emotional, but not overcome with emotion… that is, until all of us who were adopting children had to stand and be sworn in. That is when it hit me! This truly was it! I was going to officially be a mommy! The state could not just come in and take my children. They were no longer the conservator of my children- we were! It was becoming a reality. The realization hit me that this was real, and I began to cry. I had to fight back tears the remainder of the ceremony.
The children did not understand why I was crying. We assured them that it was happy tears, but they were already struggling to understand what all of this meant.
Each family’s name was called out and the adoptions were made legal. When they called our name out, we stood with all of our children. I fought back tears as the judge officially named us as the parents of these five beautiful little lives.
After the ceremony, the judges came out from behind the podium and we were able to take pictures with them. Somehow we ended up being the first family to take pictures with the judges. Our children had come up with a cheer that they had shown their case workers and attorneys. As we posed for pictures, one of the attorneys told them they had to show the judges their cheer.
They sang, all in unison, with smiles on each of their faces:
We are the Manzanagrano’s
We are the mighty, mighty Manzanagrano’s
We believe in Jesus
Our mighty, mighty King
We are the Manzanagrano’s!
When they completed the cheer, there was clapping and laughter throughout the court room. You could also hear a round of oh’s and ah’s from others who were waiting. One of the judges said, “Well, I can’t argue with that!”
We finished our pictures, and went to celebrate with the cupcakes and juice that the court had provided. Each child was given a blanket made by a local church, as well as a stuffed animal.
We left the courthouse, an official family.
We headed to our favorite Mexican Restaurant to have a celebratory lunch, followed up with a special cake made by our favorite bakery.
The next day we had a celebration party at the park with our family and closest friends.
We could finally close the book on this chapter of our lives.
During all of this process- the issues with the Agency, changing over to the CPS System directly rather than going through an agency, starting the actual adoption process and paperwork- I began to feel the stress piling on. I did not actually realize how much stress I had been dealing with until it was all over with. There were of course behavior issues because the kids did not know what it meant to be adopted. In the beginning, there were issues with melding the family. I was having health issues- major sinus infections- for which I had to have surgery to address the real problem. With each major sinus infection, I was prescribed steroids. In 4 months I gained 20 pounds from being on the steroids. The absolute last thing I needed was to gain more weight!
I was worried that something would happen that would prevent the adoption from actually going through. You hear stories all the time of last-minute things happening. I tried not to worry, but it was there.
The stress was overwhelming at times. I actually went to the doctor during the final few months of this process because I was not feeling well at all. While the adoption process and all that we had been through to have children had definitely taken a toll, I finally found out some answers to many questions that had been haunting me most of my adult life.
I went to a doctor I had never been to before. A friend of mine recommended him to me because she knew I was not feeling well. Through the course of our conversation he recommended that I have a complete panel of blood tests run. When we got the test results back he found that my B-12 level was dangerously low. He said this has probably been one of the main sources of my issues for many years. This is more than likely the main reason I have not been able to lose weight.
I started receiving B-12 shots as well as taking supplements. Over the course of the next few months my B-12 levels increased to the normal range. My energy increased and in the process I lost 30 pounds.
Now that everything was over and we got back to our life, this time, without the monthly appointments with case workers and other various officials, I was able to focus on things I had been unable to for months.
As everything settled down, it began to hit me how stressed I had been through all of this. Going through the process, you do not have time to focus on it. But now that it was all over, there was no escaping it.
It also became apparent that the children were not quite sure what to expect. We had some major behavioral issues come up with each of the older four children within the first two weeks after the adoption was final. We had expected this to happen, so we tried to be as understanding as possible, while still setting the boundaries that are necessary. We had several long talks with each of them, separately, so they could voice their concerns, fears, joys, and any other emotions that may be there. It is amazing how even the youngest one had felt the stress of our process.
It was not long before things settled down, we all felt the relief of being done with the process, and life went on as usual- with nothing really changing, and yet, at the same time, everything changing.
Our lives were still the same. Our routines were still the same. Our expectations were still the same. The children just knew that this was now their home forever.
The Purpose Of This Series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter in this series: Tearing Down The Walls
The previous chapter in this series: The Baby Is Ours!