Terrance Heath

From Three to Four

Filed By Terrance Heath | January 03, 2008 1:40 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: adoption rights, LGBT families

I've hinted at it a few times, but hesitated to say anything about it until. Given what happened last time, I'm somewhat reluctant to say much about it even now. But there's a limit to how long one can keep quiet about major life events.

Over the past month, my blogging has noticeably slowed down. Granted, December is a pretty slow month for blogging in general. There's the holidays. And then there's family. In my case balancing family, work, and blogging in the past month has meant that blogging took a lower priority and family took a higher priority. That's because a month ago today, our family was growing, and we didn't even know it yet.

At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3, as I was leaving work my cell phone rang as soon as I hit the sidewalk. It was our social worker from the adoption agency, saying that they had a placement for us. A birthmother had all but chosen us, was due to to sign away custody on Tuesday and her parental rights on Wednesday, and we were the only family being considered to adopt a baby boy, born on Sunday Dec. 2nd. I literally sat down in the middle of the sidewalk on K Street and started writing down all the details.

In the state where the baby was born, the law is such that birthparents can surrender parental rights after 72 hours. The papers are signed in front of a social worker and a notary public, and once the surrender papers are signed, they are irrevocable. You can believe I asked several times for that to be repeated to me. The birthmother would sign away custody on Tuesday, and had expressly told the hospital staff that she did not want to see him after birth, because she intended to put him up for adoption, a decision supported by her family. Her reason for the decision, we later learned, was because she already has one child she is raising and knew she couldn't provide for another, and wanted him to have a family who could "give him everything he deserves," in her words. She named the birthfather, and he will be searched for, but according to her he's "on the run" from any responsibility.

The baby. We had a long night and an anxious morning, because we'd been told that the birthmother was signing away custody of the baby, and would be discharged from the hospital that morning. The agency would call us around noon on Tuesday, Dec. 4, to let us know when it was done and we could hit the road. They called, said the papers were signed and that we should start traveling. And then they added that the baby was being discharged that same day.

We arrived at the hospital around 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, and immediately went up to see him. Just over an hour later we were walking out of the hospital with him, and we camped out at an extended stay hotel, waiting for the interstate compact to process, so we could take him home. At noon on Wednesday, the agency called to say that the birthmother came to their office and signed the parental rights papers. It was done. They told us she was accompanied and supported by family, and expressed that she felt very good about her decision and about choosing us as adoptive parents. She chose not to meet us in person, because of her healing process after the adoption, but we were open to meeting and remain open to contact in the future.

After about two weeks, the Tuesday before the holiday, we finally got the call that we could legally take the baby home. We left that morning and arrived home in the afternoon.

Finalizing the adoption will take several months longer, and between now and then we'll have a follow-up home study and the agency will do the obligatory search for the birth father. If he is not found or does not respond, etc., his parental rights will be severed. So, nothing is final yet. But for all practical purposes, for the past month, we've been a family of four. And there's a pretty good chance we'll remain one.

And the baby? We're just thrilled and stunned that he's with us. Parker in particular always want to "see the baby" and always wants to give him a kiss goodnight, give him his pacifier or run to get the bottle when the baby is hungry. We're naming him Dylan.

You'll forgive me for not posting a picture of him, yet. But until we're closer to finalization, or at least sure that there's slim chance of a disruption, there's a part me that—no matter how happy I am—can't quite exhale yet. Once we're a little closer to that, I promise I'll share some pictures.

But I wanted to share the news with readers and friends who have been so supportive of our family in the past few months.

Oh, and let folks know why my blogging has slowed here lately. Hopefully, in a few months, I'll be back up to speed.

Crossposted from The Republic of T.


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Congratulations Terrance! I'm so happy for you!

Well wishes for you and your (growing!) family! Love all around!