“Well that was easy!”
After four and a half years of frustration, tears, and prayer, the actual day of adoption went by like a warm summer breeze. Forgive me if I get a little poetic with this, but it was an exciting, energizing, climatic day and we’re still basking in the joy of Adoption Day (or as we began calling it, "A-Day").
December 19th couldn't have been a nicer day. Winter has been odd and unpredictable so far. We’ve had snow flurries, ice, and 70-degree weather. It’s actually what we’ve come to expect from Chattanooga. So on the morning of December 19th, we weren’t sure what to expect. We laid out our clothes and planned for colder weather. We wore our jackets and coats and sweaters, but we really didn’t need them. The air was crisp and the sky was blue.
I had the day off and so had the joy of spending the morning with Amelia. After breakfast we took a shower and got dressed. We both were wearing new clothes. Her in a red plaid dress Kelly’s mom had found and me in a bluey-greeny plaid shirt I had found but Kelly had bought for me for our anniversary.
Our appointment was at 1:30, so we decided to do lunch first. Kelly, Amelia, and I met Kelly’s parents, Kelly’s sister, met my parents at The Universal Joint, a fantastic little restaurant that used to be gas station. After lunch, we walked across the street to the courthouse.
We didn’t really know what to expect. Our lawyer said it was going to be super easy and quick. We were to meet the judge in his chambers where he would ask us a few questions and then sign the paper, sealing the deal and making Amelia ours. And in a nutshell, that’s what happened. But what we weren’t expecting was such an emotional, joyous proceeding.
This was clearly the judge’s favorite part of the day. He smiled with us, joked with us, and showed us pictures of his grandchildren. Kelly and I were sworn in and made to tell the story of how Amelia came into our lives. We told the judge our story and he listened with a wondrous smile on his face. He asked us a few questions, alternating between Kelly and I. “What’s her name going to be? By doing this, it will be – legally – as if she were your biological child. She have all the rights that comes with. Should the two of you ever divorce, you both would still be responsible for her. Are you aware and okay with that?”
We answered his questions with choked-up throats and beaming smiles on our face. One grandfather, who shall remain nameless, said he had to focus on Amelia during the meeting otherwise he would have started to cry.
It was the easiest, most wonderful way to end one journey and begin another. The judge signed the paper, shook our hands, and then posed for pictures. The judge and his staff were amused by our entourage. We had our entire families plus two photographers all crammed into his chambers.
After the ceremony (which was very much like a wedding in a lot of ways), we went with our lawyer to sign a few more papers . . . and then it was done.
Kelly and I laughed about it afterward. Considering how hard these years have been at times, it was almost absurd how easy it was in the end.
“You’re a mama now,” I said to her, squeezing her tight and giving her a kiss. “Officially.”
“I’ve always been a mama.” She said with a teary smile.
“I know.” I said, remembering when we first met.
She was sixteen and the camp we worked at had trusted her with children. She had laughed about it. "I can't believe they trust me," she would say. And I would smile. Because I saw in her what, clearly, the managers of the saw: She was a mama. She had no experience and she was way too young, but she was a mama. She was firm but forgiving, encouraging and funny. She would deny it, but she had one of the biggest, most loving hearts I had yet encountered. I saw it, even when she didn’t. Seeing her today, then, crying over finally being declared a mama, came as absolutely no surprise to me.
Kelly laughed again, wiping a tear from her eye. “Well that was easy!”