Friday, August 14, was a very special day for our family. It was Kensington's "set in stone" day... better known as our adoption finalization day. Up until now, Friends In Adoption had legal custody of her until the paperwork went through the court system.
When Kensington was born, the hospital mis-typed her "Baby Girl" name, and issued her birth certificate as "Babe Girl". Yes. No joke. For the past seven months, Kensi's name has actually been Babe. For those of you who have seen her eat, you would attest to her 'piglet' type behavior :)
Friday morning comes and we have to be at court by 8:30a.m. Because I had an event the previous day, we didn't drive up to upstate New York until that morning. 4 to be exact. So, with Kensington in her pajama's, and us wiping the sleep out of our eyes, it's off we go. Our suits, coordinating ties, and Kensington's adoption-princess dress hanging off the hook in the car - waiting until the moment we take our oath.
Chris sets the playlist on the iPod for the trip. "Just think. In a couple hours, Babe will legally be Kensington Grace. You should download 'I got you babe' on your iPhone." And so he did. That song became our anthem for the day.
Once we got to the courthouse, we saw Mary (our casework supervisor) and headed inside. We're the first one on the docket. Our lawyer and the states lawyer arrive and we wait until the bailiff calls us in the waiting room. Our plan was to record the hearing, but we weren't able to do so...
We take our place at one table, Mary and our Friends In Adoption's attorney at the other. The judge, whose bench is covered with stuffed animals, starts off by stating that he starts his Friday's with the happier cases. It puts him in the right mood for having to deal with the other cases he'll be hearing in family court for the remainder of the day. He talks about family... and the definition of adoption, the molding of our new family, and then reviews of the paperwork. "Babe? Is this correct?" Our attorney pipes in, "Yes, your honor. There seemed to be a typo from the initial paperwork, so in order to follow protocol, we changed all of the 'baby girl' to 'babe' to keep it consistent.
I decided to inject a bit of humor, "It may please the court, your honor, to know that we've been playing Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe on the way to the court."
The judge smiles and says, "well, then I have just the thing for this occasion" and pulls out two stuffed St. Bernard's that are hugging. He presses play on of of their paws and they begin to sing, "Babe. I got you babe."
[This is where I make a HUGE mistake]
In the beginning of the adoption process, Mary and the folks at FIA told us about this judge, and how he would give each child a stuffed animal at the hearing. When he said that he 'had just the thing', I thought that we was giving us the singing dogs. What does one normally do when being offered something? They go to get it... right? With Kensington in my lap, I stand up and walk behind the bench so he could hand it to her.
That wasn't his intentions.... and me going behind the bench - without his permission - wasn't protocol. He didn't find it amusing. Sweat beads start forming on my head as the dogs continue to sing. "Look Kensi... look at the puppies" (what was I supposed to say?) The judge takes the dogs and moves them to the other part of the bench... furthest from me. "We'll just move these over here" he says, as I slowly back away and head back to the table.
We continue with proceeding and then are passed some documents to sign. While this is being done, Kensi is playing with the cups on the table. She could care less about the toys we placed there. It was plastic water cups that caught her attention.
"Normally, I don't do this. Giving up my singing toys. (we found out he had a box of smaller toys that he gives away). But in this scenario... for this little sweetie... with a name like 'Babe', I don't think I have a choice here. Mary, would you please come and get this toy and bring it to Kensington." Mary went to the front of the bench and of the dogs and brought it to us.
The hearing was over. It's been made official!
Mary later asked the judge if we could have a picture of together and he said he was okay with that. "Should be come to the front of the bench", I asked. He then granted us permission to come behind the bench (as you can see in the picture).
So... the overall question is how we now feel about all of this.
To be honest. It doesn't feel any different. We didn't love less because it wasn't legal. Actually, we fell in love with her before we were even chosen by our birth parents. The moment we saw her sonogram picture, she had us wrapped around her little finger. Do we love more? I don't know if it's possible. She's our world. Always has been and always will be.
It makes it easier. For our wills. For our benefits. For making key health care decisions in the future. Logistically it's better. Emotionally it's the same. We just now have one more day to celebrate each year. August 14th is now our "set in stone" date. I see a lot of stones (jewelry) being given in the future.
We put a couple pictures together of the last several months. For those seeing this post via Facebook, you'll have to visit our site at http://itsdaddiesplural.blogspot.com/ to view.