It's official -- the adoption of our beloved Lianne Elizabeth Murray was finalized by Judge Drue Farmer in Lubbock County Court on Friday, August 26 around 8:45 AM! She is now forever our daughter and we are forever her parents. Wow.
So what was the finalization hearing like? I need to write it down before I forget -- and as the record is sealed and takes a major act to open it, I'd better get it down fast! Bill, Lia and I arrived to the courthouse around 8:15 AM, joining four other families who had worked with our agency who were finalizing that morning. Judge Farmer took her seat behind the bench and she swore in Merinda, the amazing founder and head of our agency, Adoption Covenant, and her colleague, John, who is the Director of Placement for the agency.
Bill, Lia and I were the first family called in front of the judge. Lia was fussy, so I was feeding her at the time, so I came to the bench holding her and had a bottle on hand just in case. Bill stood to my left, John to his left, and Merinda facing us. We raised our right hands and were sworn in by the Judget. Merinda, acting as both the agency head and as an adoption attorney representing the case, asked us a series of questions. She asked me my name and asked me for the name of the baby I was holding. I lost it right away, introducing Lia as my darling daughter, Lianne Elizabeth Murray. She asked when Lia was born and on what date Lia was placed with us. She asked how Lia was doing since she came to be placed with us. I shared that she was thriving physically and developmentally and that she was a very healthy girl and that her doctor was happy with her development. She asked Bill his name. She might have asked Bill another question, but I honestly don't remember. She asked her colleague John for his name, role and credentials. She asked him if he had reviewed our home study and post-placement documentation. He said he had. She asked him if we had met the requirements for a Texas home study and he said that we had. She asked if given our documentation he believed that it was in Lianne's best interest to be placed with us permanently and he said yes.
Merinda then asked if we understood that Lia's biological parents rights were terminated and we said yes. She then asked if we understood that by becoming Lia's adoptive parents that we would assume all the responsibilities for her as we would for any biological child and we responded yes. She then asked each of us if we believe it is in Lia's best interest to be placed with us. We each responded yes and I said that I thought it was in her best interest and in mine.
Judge Farmer then stated that in hearing our testimony and reviewing the documentation presented to her, she would sign into record the adoption of Lianne by me and Bill. We all hugged one another and Lia and had our photos taken with the Judge. The whole thing lasted about 7-10 minutes at most.
We then went with Merinda's mom (and colleague) Betty, down to the courthouse office to file the record. And we got to pick out a stuffed animal for Lia. There were shelves and shelves of stuffed bears and a few dogs. And one ostrich. Guess what we chose. :-)
We spent some time with our fabulous new friend and photographer, Tiffany Padilla, and got photos taken in front of the courthouse and at some Lubbock landmarks. We had lunch with our friends at Adoption Covenant, soaking up as much time with them as possible. Honestly, it was one of the best days of my life.
And now this darling girl is my daughter. Now and forever. I was talking with my dad the night of the hearing and, through tears, shared something that feels incredibly profound to me. That five years of pain, heartache and longing has all dissipated with the arrival of Lia into our lives. I thought I would carry around those feelings of disappointment and hurt and broken-ness forever, but somehow they are all gone. I think it's like childbirth, which I understand to be one of the most painful experiences, but one in which the pain is quickly forgotten.
So now that it's all official, I have taken the step of changing my blog name -- no longer "Future Mommy," I am now "Forever Mommy."