We’ve now covered our first weekend as parents. Throughout our time in Missouri, I really did feel like an actress in my own life story. Nobody knew who we were, what we were like. Nobody was around to help us, or to see Jack and validate our experience thus far. I had been longing for home since that first night, but now I wanted to go home more than ever. I wanted to start feeling like a mother to my son. I wanted the help that comes along with having family and friends around. I wanted to try and find the new normal.
S, her son, sister, and mother came over to the hotel on the day Jack was 1 week old: January 24. The episode was strained. We talked a lot about food. S’s son wandered around the room getting pieces of food from his mom, aunt, and grandma. He loved going into the bathroom to see himself in the full length mirrors there. That was cute. We made plans for going to dinner on Thursday. Max said that would be better because we were hoping to fly out on Saturday. S was dismayed.
Originally, S was going to be induced on Friday the 13th of January. In Missouri, the termination of parental rights (TPR) can’t be signed until 48 hours after the baby’s birth. S would have signed the TPR on Sunday, and we would get into court on Monday. Our reservation was to fly out one week from the following Tuesday (January 24). Only problem: Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday. No court. And the back log wouldn’t have let us in until Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. So, the induce date was changed to Monday (January 16, MLK Birthday). However, because of the indifference and incompetence of the hospital staff, S didn’t have the baby until January 17. All of the paperwork had to be changed to reflect the date. So, as you already know, we went to court on Friday, January 20.
There is a process known as the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. Because there are no federal standards for adoption, each state has its own laws. Thus, one state must tell another state about the adoption, including all of the material that the receiving state must have. This takes about 5–10 days. In court on January 20, we had been told that our lawyer would overnight the information to the office in Missouri. The office in Missouri did receive the packet on Monday morning (January 23). They processed the paperwork and sent it out the same day. It arrived in California on Tuesday (January 24). EVERYONE we talked with told us that the ICPC would almost surely be done by Wednesday or Thursday, but definitely would be done on Friday (January 27). So, we changed our reservations to fly out on Saturday January 28.
When I changed the reservations, I looked at Southwest’s web site regarding flying with infants. There was information about the car seat standards, airline policy, and a phone number to call regarding tickets. I called the number. A gruff woman told me that I would be better off making reservations online, as the infant ticket price was $50 higher than the Internet ticket price for an adult. I told her that our son would be 11 days when we flew, Would that be a problem? Was there any information we needed to bring with us? No, just some form of identity.
Now, it is Wednesday, January 28. We haven’t heard from anyone—ANLC, Mike the Lawyer, the ICPC people—nobody. This began the long string of phone calls to and from Max, Robyn, Ellen the Poor Excuse for a Counselor, Megan the lawyer from ANLC, Mike the Lawyer, and ICPC personnel. By Thursday night, what it all boiled down to was this:
- Mike had not sent the correct papers to the ICPC office in California. He sent the correct paperwork via fax when he discovered this.
- The ICPC office in California was suspicious of the high fees that ANLC charged us, and had been trying to get in touch with them, to no avail.
- Ellen was absolutely no help (surprise?), and informed us that no one ever guaranteed the process would be done by Friday.
- Megan got the full-on, no-nonsense, this will happen attitude and speech from me, on my cell phone at Office Depot.
I was at Office Depot to make color copies of some of S’s pictures of her family. Why Office Depot? I called and asked if they could scan 12×12 pages onto a CD for me. The guy at the end of the line said, “Sure.” I came in the next day and asked, “So, can someone scan these pages for me?” Clerk guy: “Ummmm… we don’t do that.”
Apparently, there’s something everyone else is smoking, and I just wasn’t in on the conspiracy.
So, I was making copies at Office Depot. My cell phone rang (99 Luftballons) and at the other end was Megan. (Her last name I can’t pronounce, or spell, sorry.) Her side is: She’s been helping the person at the ICPC offices in both Missouri and California, and she knows that they have the appropriate information. It’s just a matter of time to get the approval. However, she has told Ellen that she cannot help anymore, because this isn’t her job.
Isn’t her job.
The LAWYER from Adoption Network LAW Center tells me that it isn’t her JOB to work out the LEGAL issues surrounding our adoption.
Me: Excuse me?
Megan: Well, you decided you didn’t want us to handle the ICPC because it was an extra $1,000, so, no, this isn’t really my job.
Me: I read the contract, and the language concerning the ICPC process is contradictory. Nevertheless, we have had so many problems thanks to ANLC dropping the ball—
Megan: Well, the lawyer in Missouri dropped the ball—
Me: Yeah. But then he apologized for it and made it right. ANLC was supposed to contact the hospital social worker. Mike has an email message from Marie Curry that said she had done that, but she hadn’t. Then, we couldn’t see our son when he was born and Ellen’s idea of helping us get access was to call and harass the birth mother. Everytime we have needed anything from ANLC, someone has dropped the ball. We’ve paid over TWENTY THOUSAND dollars for your services, and you have done nothing to help us through this entire process. I don’t care if it’s “NOT YOUR JOB.” ANLC owes us because they’ve treated us so poorly. I know you’re not the one who did any of this, but right now, you’re getting the blame for it, because ANLC OWES US some help here.
Megan: (chastened, but still not convinced) Well, I can see what I can do.
Me: We need to take our son home on Saturday. We need you to help us do that.
Megan: I can’t make any promises…