A couple of weeks ago, we finalized Norah’s adoption in court. This makes her legally a Redfern. It was a beautiful day that we shared with family, dear friends, and Norah’s biological family.
They all joined us in the courtroom and then we shared a fancy lunch together at The Grand America and took photos. Just a really simple, lovely day to celebrate this little lady.
(Those red shoes though! Read why they mean so much to me HERE.)
That night I looked over at my husband on the other end of the couch. He was entrenched in something on his computer and not paying much attention to whatever we were “watching” on television. “What are you writing?” I asked him like 500 times because I am apparently very nosey and just couldn’t comprehend what he would be writing and not telling me about. Honestly, this makes me sound like such a control freak. I get that. lol He laughed and teased me about being all up in his business.
About an hour later the following essay arrived in my email with the title “This is none of your business.” (He is so clever.) With his permission (and Norah’s birth mom’s blessing) I am sharing it today because I thought it was so beautiful.
I love this man.
What makes a child “yours” in adoption?
by Josh Redfern, LCSW, adoptive father of four, and Director of Adoption.org Adoption Agencies in Utah
We finalized the adoption of Norah today. It’s a great day. Even though, in our cases, you raise the child from like Day Three, they technically aren’t fully “yours” until you do this. They’re (in a Utah direct placement, at least) really kind of no one’s. The rights of their biological parents have been relinquished irrevocably but you are still being supervised to make sure the placement really is best for you and the child.
I started to think about the concept of a child being “mine.” As his birth family sat in the court and watched the judge declare to us that we were now officially the parents of Norah, I wondered how they might feel about the concept of Norah being “mine.” Since they were there, one would assume that they were okay with that concept on at least one level. But why? Why would someone who has already broken their heart by placing a child with another family want to watch it become even more “not theirs?”
When we think about possession, we usually think in fairly linear/simplistic/concrete terms. You buy a TV and it’s “yours”, you sell it and it’s “theirs.” Pretty straightforward. On paper, this is sort of what the legal process of adoption is. In terms of responsibilities and certain rights, the child is transferred from one parent (or set of parents) to another. But are children really possessions like a TV? Of course they aren’t but we talk like it sometimes.
Does me (or the judge) saying that Norah is “mine” take away from her being Sage’s? Sure, it does in some ways. I’m now responsible for Norah in all of those concrete ways that make you a parent (feeding, clothing, making sure she does her homework, lecturing her) that Sage is not. She’s also “mine” in that more spiritual/emotional attachment way. But is she really no longer Sage’s daughter or Sage’s dad’s granddaughter?
IMO, no amount of paperwork makes Norah not Sage’s. How can you really sever that relationship? These 2 (and her other biological family) are inextricably tied together. And not necessarily by blood or DNA as many would say. The act of Sage releasing her legal rights to Norah because of her love for Norah is one of the things that connects them forever. How can an act so selfless really divide them?
I don’t have a problem calling Norah “mine”. We don’t REALLY mean it like owning a TV. I also don’t mind it if Sage or her family calls her “theirs.” I don’t mind (and actually enjoy) that Sage’s father is “grandpa”, that her step-mother is “grandma” and that her brother is “uncle.” They are still hers. It doesn’t take away from her being “mine.” In some ways, I think it enhances it. To remember how and from whom she came gives me motivation to be a better father.
So, I guess when I say my kids are “mine”, I really mean “ours.” Our language just can’t understand adoption sometimes.