Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gabrirella's Massachusetts Readoption

Today concluded the long journey of Gabriella's adoption! Gabriella's Massachusetts readoption was completed this morning! November is National Adoption Month and this was a perfect way to celebrate!

Gabriella's readoption was not required, but legally recommended. The three outcomes that I was most interested in with Gabriella's readoption are 1) we now have an adoption decree issued by a U.S. state court under the U.S. Constitution giving full faith and credit to Gabriella's adoption decree and to all of her rights under the decree, 2) her birth certificate will be "stored" here in the Unites States so that if her Guatemalan birth certificate is ever misplaced it is easy to access a new one, 3) her name is now changed from Astrid Mariela Draper to Gabriella Astrid Draper.

"Readoption" is when a U.S. state court reviews the details of the foreign adoption and issues a new adoption decree, independent from the foreign decree, stating that the child has been adopted in conformity with the adoption law of the state. "Readoption" is not the same as an adoption "finalization." Gabriella's "Finalization" occurred in Guatemala; her final decree was issued on July 3, 2008 and her birth certificate was reissued on July 28, 2008 listing me as her mother and her last name as Draper.

Gabriella walking into the Probate and Family Court in New Bedford, MA for her readoption:
We were scheduled for an 8:30 AM session and we were walking out of the courthouse by 9:00 AM. It was rather quick, but this experience was not entirely "entertaining" for a two year old! Waiting "patiently:"
Prior to the "hearing" I was asked to sign two of the same documents for Gabriella's US birth certificate. We were then called into the judges chambers for a private session with Judge Prudence McGregor. She was the same judge who heard my motion to not have to publish for Gabriella's birth father. She was very pleasant, made us feel very comfortable, and upheld the importance of the event. She started off by dumping a large container of chocolate on her desk, giving Gabriella a large manila envelope, and instructing Gabriella to fill up the envelope with chocolate! This was the highlight of the event for Gabriella!
Gabriella proudly showing off her candy!:
The judge then spoke to us about the significance of the event. The judge viewed this event as an adoption, rather than a readoption, just as she had when I stood before her for the motion to waive the requirement of publishing for Gabriella's birth father. This event was significant, but did not hold the same weight for me as Gabriella's finalization in Guatemala. To me, Gabriella was certainly already my daughter and I did not have to have this event to legally affirm that.

The judge started off by asking me what this adoption meant to me. I had not prepared for questioning, but this was certainly an easy question for me to answer. I stated that it means that Gabriella is an extremely important member of my family. The Judge then shared the "Love Poem" which you can read below. She stated that the poem states that as a parent, Gabriella will look to me for comfort and care, but most importantly that when she looks in my eyes she will know how loved she is. This was very emotional and, of course, brought tears to my eyes. She said that she gives this poem to all adoptees and tells the adoptee and anybody significant in his/her life to sign it and then frame it. She recommended that we wait until Gabriella is a bit older and then to do this with her. The judge then said that an adoption cannot be reversed. She said that sometimes families, after they realize that a child may have significant emotional issues, ask to "undo" an adoption. I assured the judge that this was not an option for me, that Gabriella is and would always be my daughter forever.
All of this "serious" talk was kind of boring for Gabriella! Then, the judge signed the documents.:
The judge then offered to take photos with us! Being the picture nut that I am, I was thrilled that the judge offered to do this!:
The judge gave us all hugs. She tried to give Gabriella a high five, but Gabriella was too shy!:
Today was a day that I will never forget!

"My Love Poem" by James Agee

I hear my father:

I hear my mother:

I need never fear

I shall never be

lonely or want of love

When I am hungry it is you who will provide for me

When I am in dismay, it is you who will fill me with comfort;

When I am astonished or bewildered, it is you who will make the weak ground firm beneath my soil

It is in you that I put my trust

When I am sick it is you who will send for the doctor.

When I am well, it is in your eyes that I shall know best that I am loved

And it is towards the shining of your smiles that I lift up my heart and in your laughter that I shall know my best delight

I hear my father and my mother and they are my giants.

My king and my queen beside whom there are no others so wise.

So worthy, so honorable, or brave or beautiful in this world.

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