“All we get is a letter in the mail? After all of this, that seems so anti-climactic!”
Our attorney thoroughly explained the process to us several months ago as we were nearing the final steps. Now that we had been through ICPC not once, but twice (once for the placement, the next for the adoption study), had had multiple background checks, criminal histories, physicals and doctor’s approval that we are in fact healthy enough to raise Rylee (which we had already been doing for about a year), two rounds of interviews and recommendation letters, we were ready to file the petition to adopt (our requesting the court to adopt, which entailed lots of documents and signatures). Once that was done, our attorney explained matter-of-factly, the court will request a home study and recommendation from your caseworker (wait, a third home study by the same caseworker to provide the same information on a new form? Yes, that’s correct). After that is received, there’s typically a 90-day waiting period, but that should be waived since she’s already been living with you, so the decree will be issued and you’ll receive it in the mail! As he’s explaining this, I begin quietly sobbing as the prospect of all of this begins to seem like a reality. Our attorney was such a sweet man who stepped out to get me tissues then gently asked if I was okay. Yes, just happy, hopeful tears, I explained. But – to clarify – we don’t go to court? There’s no judge? No bang of a gavel? After all of this, the way we will know our adoption is final is when we pull it out of the mailbox?? That just doesn’t seem right.
Luckily, the good Lord saw fit to give me a little more excitement to end this process than finding the decree in the mailbox one day. Our final home study and all other necessary documents were submitted at the end of July. Our caseworker explained that it takes “up to 30 days” for the court to issue the decree, so you should receive it in August. We’ll hold off on scheduling an August visit, she said, because it should be official and we won’t need one! Around the middle of August, I began checking the mailbox every day when I got home like I was a little kid running to look under the tree on Christmas morning. Day after day passed. Finally, only a few days until the end of August, our caseworker (have I mentioned how much of a rockstar Jacquelynn was??) called and explained that they were actually still waiting on one document, so it hasn’t been reviewed. Oh, of course. I completed that document, had it notorized, and got it our attorney that day. They submitted it to the court the next day. At this point, we’d already had our party scheduled for September 16, so I asked if I should reschedule it, and was told not to yet. Jacquelynn got a hold of the court clerk supervisor again, who said that it should be soon and that, at my request, they would call me when it was completed so I would know and be able to come pick it up before receiving it in the mail. I got in touch with the court clerk supervisor on September 8 and, after finding our file, said routinely “this will be finalized next week.” “What?? Really?! Thank you so much!!!! You have no idea, this has been such a long process!”
By Tuesday, I called her again just to see if she had any clue as to which day, since I hadn’t heard anything yet. “It should be done either tomorrow or Thursday.” When I didn’t hear anything on Wednesday, I was pretty down. See my last post. By Thursday, I decided to just have a sense of humor about it. It seemed too late to cancel the party, so we’ll just put post-its on the banner and change the words on the cake to say “almost officially a Simons.” It’ll come when it comes. I left a voicemail for her again Thursday afternoon just to double-check that they hadn’t forgotten to call me.
On Friday, September 15, at about 2:30, I get a call from the court clerk supervisor. She explains that in fact there was just one more thing they were missing from our attorney. They had gotten in touch with him, and he was sending someone with the documents now. “You can come pick up the decree today after 4pm.” I was ecstatic, overwhelmed, and in disbelief – litterally. “I have to get there today, because I won’t believe it’s done until it’s in my hands,” I told Adam. Of course, it was a crazy day at work and it wasn’t easy to leave early (thanks so much to a great boss who understood and let me go), but I got out shortly after 4. I raced to pick up Rylee from daycare and got to the courthouse as quickly as I could. It was about 4:43 as I pulled into the parking garage. I got Rylee out of the car, picked her up, and began running to the courthouse. I frantically asked everyone I passed “do you know where I’d go to pick up a decree of adoption??” I was told the 3rd floor. When I get to the 3rd floor, I’m told I actually need to go to the 8th floor. I head back to the elevator nervously checking my watch – 4:52 – and head to the 8th floor. I run through the double doors and to the window, so grateful to see someone (the courthouse was already emptying out) and breathily say “I’m here to pick up a decree of adoption.” She looks at me, then looks at Rylee and simply says “for Rylee?” as she holds up an envelope. I profusely thank her as I take it, pull the decree out of the envelope, and go sit down on a bench. I can’t read it all right now, but the phrases “decree of adoption,” “Rylee Marie Simons,” “adopted for life” stick out to me. I FaceTime Adam and we sit together, crying, in disbelief (I was grateful at this moment for the empty courthouse and the gift of a private moment to take this all in). Yes, it’s really done. She really is a Simons. Once we’d called Adam and both of my parents, Rylee and I get on the elevator to head home and another woman gets on with us. She glances at the papers in my hand and says “Mrs. Simons?” “Yes, I’m Christie Simons.” “I’m Angela, the court clerk supervisor,” she explains. “Oh my goodness, it’s so nice to meet you! Thank you SO MUCH! I’m so sorry for pestering you!” “Don’t worry about it at all,” she graciously says, “I’m so happy for you.” Yes, this was a much better ending than finding it finalized in our mailbox. It so perfectly summed up this entire process – it did not go according to *our* plan, was messy, dramatic, hectic, exciting, perfect, chaotic, and beautiful. It was draining and exhausting, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It is finished. The courts and the papers now confirm what we’ve known for over two years: she is our daughter, Rylee Marie Simons.