We were relieved to receive a letter from the Adoption Authority informing us that our adoption hearing would be held at the end of January 2015. We had begun the adoption process in December 2012. This day had been a long time coming for our family.
My husband booked the day off work and we informed preschool why our son would not be attending his usual session. In the days leading up the event we would chat about it briefly, but life is so busy with two young children that we hadn’t really considered the levity of the moment until the morning of our adoption hearing. Our families expected us to be elated but we were stressed and tense from the moment we woke. We made our way to the Adoption Authority at Shelbourne house, where many other families were sitting waiting for their appointed adoption hearing.
We weren’t too sure what to expect at our hearing. We knew that during this meeting the adoption would be finalised and become legal, but we weren’t expecting such a brief encounter with those who officiated the act. Before we entered the room we were told that we would be asked some simple questions in order to verify our identity and our wish to adopt our son. The man briefing us said that we would have to be sworn in. He thrust a Bible towards us and asked “I presume this will be okay?”. My husband and I glanced at one another. We both answered with a definitive “No”. We were given the alternative of swearing an oath instead. I suppose it is typically Irish to assume that we’re all Catholic.
When we entered the room, there was a huge table separating ourselves and the Adoption Authority. There were seven or eight people staring back at us. We swore our oath and then sat across from the man who seemed to be in charge. The questions were asked and answered quickly. A statement was made. We were then handed a letter with details of how to get the new birth certificate. I was a little teary, but there wasn’t much time for anything else. Five minutes later we found ourselves walking around Dublin city centre, papers in hand. It was anticlimactic and very, very strange.
Our son was having a fantastic day, though. He knew that this was a day where “Mammy and Daddy made a promise to keep me and love me forever”. We explained to him that we were making this promise because although Mammy and (Biological Father’s Name) created him, Mammy and Daddy would be the ones to always take care of him. He was familiar with his biological father’s name from the special book we had created so none of this was a surprise to him. He kept singing “This is my ba-doption day!” and couldn’t wait to get stuck into the promised ice cream afterwards. We met his grandmothers for brunch where he was lavished with gifts and love. It was a very positive experience for him.
My husband and I were a little broken, though. As soon as we got into the car after the adoption hearing my husband’s eye starting swelling and he developed conjunctivitis within the hour. He felt run down and remained in bad form for the rest of the day. I believe that his body was releasing the tension he had been holding in the lead up to the big day. I myself was expecting to feel this huge surge of relief and happiness when we were handed the papers. I just felt the sharp injustice of having just become my son’s adoptive mother. This was what we had worked towards for the past two years, and yet I felt the same anxiety I had carried with me from pregnancy.
Our happy ending was still a little way off.
You can read the next part of our story here