We spent the afternoon having a picnic with our extented birth family.
The adoption of our little Jack-Jack was complete on April 19 making him offically ours and while we have had him since he was born, he is adopted which means there is another family that is his too.
When we started being foster parents we knew that at some point we would probably adopt. We discussed what that would be like to adopt a child with another family and a history all their own; a history unique from the rest of us. We weren't sure what that would be like, now we are leaning that it can be special in a way nothing else is.
Jack is the younger brother of Tall Boy, my 14 year old buddy that was also our foster child for most of the last year. He was returned to his father, Jack-Jack was not.
When we have had a foster child in our home we have decided to get to know the parents, you spend a lot of time with them at visits, appointments, meetings, on the phone. It makes life feel more stable for the foster child if you can work well with the parents, try to be a team if possible.
I spent lots of time with Tall Boy and Jack-Jacks dad over the course of the last year. I don't know if I fully understand him, he as made some really bad choices when it comes to his kids. He is almost 70 and recklessly fathered a child with a woman commited to the state hospital while he was homeless and his other kids were in foster care for abuse and neglect, not a pretty picture. But he is my sons father...and the father of my Tall Boy; as much as I would not have chosen this relationship with him we are bound together forever now.
I was there in the courtroom when he decided to terminate his parental rights. So many mixed emotions, the judge asked him if he understood what he was doing. He responded to the jugde saying that he wanted Jack-Jack to have a chance at a better life. That he would agree to terminate his parental rights if Hot Mama and I would adopt baby Jack. He struggled to get the words out and then turned around looked me in the eyes, forced a smile and gave me a thumbs up, held my eye contact for a while with tears streaming then turned back around to the judge and sobbed. He knew that he could not take care of this child, he also knew he could not determine where he would be placed for adoption, but he tried to publicly say "I want this child to have a life I cant provide and I trust you to give it to him, please love him." I cried too.
Its a moment that is hard to understand unless you have lived it.
This man that had made so many mistakes to get to this point was trying to make something right. Over the course of the last year with him there were so many times I felt anger with his decisions, frustration, and disgust. Times when I just want to be done with him. In that moment in the courtroom my heart softened. I realized that he had caused his own pain; he would continue to live with so many regrets he would not be able to put right. I didn't need to add to it, I needed to be capable of showing compassion.
So we visit, we talk on the phone. Tall Boy still gets to be a big brother to Jack-Jack. His sister gets to tell people she as a baby brother and show off pictures Biological dad gets to see that he did make the right choice letting him go.
What do we get? We get our Jack-Jack, and the miracle that he is to our family. Its not a competition, I'm his dad and we are his family. I know that is strong enough that we don't need to be threatend by allowing his birth family to love him too. I know that Jack-Jack will grow up and have questions too, my hope is that by redefining what we allow our family to be our adopted kids will not feel some of the loss and loneliness that comes with a severed background, that he will have his whole story, I hope.
Its not perfect and sometimes its hard but for now this feels right.
Tall Boy, Big Sis & Jack-Jack