HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY C!!!!!
Today was a crazy day of running around and of course celebrating!
C was patiently waiting for cake and presents at the end of the day when we could all be together. Patiently perhaps a bit tongue in cheek as this is definitely not a word this little guy comprehends! A typical day starts with whining and demanding and ends with arguments of NOT sleeping! It may sound ridiculous but when I have survived the day of multiple behavioural challenges I am actually extremely thankful for this test of sanity. All medical reports pointed towards autism, FASD, and many other developmental delays at 13 months of age and we were truly unsure what his future held.
When we first became aware that C even existed we had just completed our sixth adoption and closed our file at the agency believing at least briefly that our family was complete. News of one of our existing sons having a biological brother that was in need of an adoptive family was needless to say "unexpected"! We determined quite quickly that we would apply to be considered this adoptive family. I prepared a lengthy letter describing our family and the importance of preserving biological bonds between siblings, our parenting philosophy and all that we felt important as we raised our seven children with a holistic approach encouraging them to meet their individual potential. We had no idea what was in store but knew that we could be this forever family of security and love for this little boy!
The agency responsible for finding C a forever home did not respond to our letter and sent instead a letter to our local agency advising they would be pursuing another family. We could not understand the lack of communication or the decision to refuse our invitation to come to our home and meet us, talk with the other children and at least consider our application. We soon came to realize that the reason we were not to be considered was that we had seven children and C would present with many risk factors that would require "better attention than we could provide". All this without even speaking to us on the phone!
The heartbreak we felt for our son and the grieving over the loss of a significant biological bond between these two brothers was overwhelming for us and we felt they both deserved our best efforts to ensure that we had at least made every attempt to ensure this significant bond could be nurtured. We understood all too well how biological bonds between siblings was a very important part of their identity especially as they grew and the questions about their "beginnings" surfaced. We had at the time five other children from two sibling groups that had each in their own way drawn on these significant relationships as we were watching them grow and mature. We appealed this decision to a provincial board and a trial was set for October of 2009.
Very little time was allowed for preparation but I spent the next several weeks researching documents at the university library on attachment, large families and special needs, subpoenaing witnesses and preparing several binders with questions for my witnesses and cross examination questions....all for a child we hadn't even seen a picture of!!! I am not a lawyer nor had I any experience on this end of a trial! I had taken the stand at several custody trials for our existing adopted children but nothing had prepared me for this journey.
I received a package in the mail from their lawyer and it suddenly became too real! Day one of the trial arrived and although overwhelmed and plagued with little sleep I was sure I couldn't have prepared any more than I had. Day one .... the most stressful day of my life I'm sure! The agency had brought a court stenographer and their lawyer, microphones, tape recorders and I was intimidated! I think in retrospect that was likely the point! The three panel members that would ultimately determine our future sat stone faced at one end of the room and my husband and I sat facing the opposing agency and their lawyer. I introduced and questioned my witnesses and then listened as they were cross examined and every aspect of our lives, private and otherwise debated! The next two days were full of "objections" and questions about whether information should or shouldn't be admissible......finally and I mean FINALLY the panel advised the other lawyer he was being unreasonable and that I was not a lawyer. The icing on the cake came as I prepared for my closing arguments. I opened my binder to my three page closing and took a deep cleansing breath to begin......three words came out of my mouth and the lawyer objected citing that I had not provided them a copy of this information and I could not therefore "read" from it......good grief......the panel discussed quietly and advised me that unfortunately to stay to the letter of the law I had to deliver my close without reading it. I understand now they were being so diligent in order to prevent any kind of appeal that would further delay C's placement. I prayed, breathed and started what turned out to be better, clearer closing arguments than I had prepared....Thank you God! We left the room at the end unsure of the results and were told we would receive their ruling via courier within 10 days. Never before had I been required to leave something so totally and completely in God's hands....a true test....
A 23 page ruling arrived in our favour....not only did it stipulate we were to be considered an adoptive applicant but that C was to be placed in our home! They stipulated this was to be done in a timely fashion in order to prevent further unnecessary delay in providing him the loving home he so deserved! We were floored and fully believe this process was part of what was necessary to continue to prepare us for our future with C and the ongoing uncertainty with many of the other children. Strength is drawn continually from God!!!
Almost three years later we celebrate him! He is NOT autistic and communicates continually! (any translating is done in house!) His joints were once floppy but now he's just extremely flexible! :) There are a whole host of things we will continue to deal with behaviourally and medically probably forever but none of these impact more than the blessing he is to us!!!
Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.