Huge news, the hearing was today, and the judge terminated the mother’s parental rights and set adoption into our family as the “permanent plan” for the kids. Now the adoption phase begins. This means a new social worker and I’m not sure what else, but it sounds like mostly dotting the I’s and getting everything in order before the finalization.

I guess I’m in shock. As upset as I was when this legal result was delayed, I expected to be elated, and that must be bubbling up somewhere. But today I feel overwhelmed, verging on blank.

Suddenly I’m incredibly sad for our kids’ mom, and the tragedy of the situation. Hopefully on some level she is or will be glad that her kids are in good hands. Some part of her has got to want that. But she didn’t show up at the hearing she requested, and hasn’t been in contact with her lawyer, so we don’t have any idea what’s going on with her. I know we can’t do anything to help her, but it still feels odd to bring the kids into the family while saying “there’s nothing we can do” about their unwell, nonfunctioning mom. For now they aren’t asking about this, but it seems inevitable that at some age they’ll ask why we didn’t find and help their mom, and all I can say is I’m glad I have a little time before I have to answer that question.

It’s also strange to pass this giant legal hurdle and be planning to celebrate tonight, when the kids don’t know what’s happened. Everyone involved agrees keeping them out of the details right now is best for them. They know adoption is coming down the road. I guess we can tell them it’s getting closer. We can talk about how we’ll celebrate the adoption and the legal confirmation of our family. But the truth is the kids would be devastated to know that the court severed their mom from them today, and that she didn’t even show up to fight for them. At least I think they would. Like answering them about why we’re unable to help some people, they will have to formulate how they feel about all of this at some point in the future, when they can better understand it. Can one ever understand something like this?

And weirdly, aside from the knowledge that this will be legal and binding (which is a plenty big deal, of course), the truth is nothing will change in our day-to-day life. We’ll be free of the social workers and the sense we’re being evaluated and are on probation. That’ll be great. No, it’ll be fantastic! But it’s not like there’s some sense that we’re “testing out” being a family and adoption will let us say, “yes, let’s do this thing.” It’s not an engagement that will become a permanent commitment, we’re doing it already, and these big leaps are only removing the threats and uncertainties.

It’s clear to me: we’re a family, and I’m so grateful for all the circumstances that brought us together. That it’s a blend of hard work, tragedy, love, and serendipity makes perfect sense. And I guess that’s reason enough for a big, joyful celebration.