Today, we finalized Cassie’s adoption. This is what finalization looks like:
Before we could finalize in Louisiana, we had to have some post-placement visits from a social worker, then our lawyer had to file for finalization after we had had Cassie for one year. Then, we had to wait 45 days from filing to get our court date. Then, we got our court date. Max, Cassie, and I flew to Louisiana (accidentally leaving the baby wipes in Denver) on Sunday. Our court date was January 15 at 8:30 a.m. in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. We were nine minutes early. We went through a maze of halls only to be told to go out of that building, into the cold (yes, it does get cold in Louisiana), and into another building, where we waited for about half an hour to be called. At that point, we went back into the cold, out of the building, into another part of the building where the Judge’s chambers were. The Judge was very welcoming. We each had to swear an oath on the Bible. The Judge gave Cassie a Beanie Baby whale to remember the day. (Its name is Waves. Isn’t that adorable?) In about 15 minutes, we were legally a family. Hooray! Then we all posed for this picture. Cheese!
Our baby-sitter asked if the fact that we hadn’t finalized meant that someone could take Cassie from us. That’s a very good question. The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is, “if necessary, maybe.” Cassie’s birth parents’ rights were terminated last year. (More on that in another post.) However, the post-placement period is to ensure that the child and family are thriving. If the social worker had found something troubling, then, yes, the state of Louisiana could theoretically take Cassie. Until today, technically, we were just Cassie’s legal guardians.
But now, we have five copies of the adoption decree, which states that the child is “declared, for all legal purposes, to be the child of the petitioners [that's us!] to the same extent as if the child had been born” to us.
We had a visit with Cassie’s birthmother and older sister yesterday, and are having a visit with her birthfather later today. We will be going home tomorrow, and ready for Jackson’s SEVENTH birthday on Thursday.
For anyone who is wondering, Jackson is being taken care of by our friend Lori (thank you so much!). His bunny, Zella, is being taken care of by the 4-H leader. Our cats and fish are being taken care of by our neighbor.
And now, we are officially done building our family!