My phone just rang at work and it was my mom in Tallahassee. I could tell something was terribly wrong when I heard her voice. My cousin Renee has two boys both of whom are on active duty in Afghanistan. Last night, her oldest son was killed in an attack on their tent which caught fire from an explosive device and apparently killed all the men inside. I can’t tell you how it makes my heart hurt to think about the profound grief Renee and her parents are going through. It will be about a week they said before they are able to get his body home, and her younger son will accompany him on the trip.
I remember meeting Anthony last year when we went to Tallahassee. He seemed like such a really good guy, very personable, great sense of humor, somebody you enjoyed being around. I remember how Renee hugged him – the love for her son and her joy at having him home a short while was palpable. And now he is gone, too, too soon.
Mom broke down crying when she started remembering what it felt like when her brothers were away at war and she worried about them every day. And I can deal with almost anything in the world – except hearing my own mother cry. It is killing me right now that I’m not there to hug her and reassure her and just let her know that she is not alone.
Oh, this is never the way I want to start a day ….
Glory, hallelujah, and praise be to God! It seems like it has taken forever to get to this point, and the backstory is moot by now, but we finally had our finalization hearing today. Juliette was officially ours as of about 10:00 am this morning – and as one friend said, we are now hers, too. Judge Quaintance is so very, very nice – you shouldn’t be nervous if you have to appear before her, she makes the process easy. It was all over almost as soon as it began, and then were were a few moments for pictures.
Harald and I and the Judge
Don’t you love the way Juliette is checking out the judge?
After months of waiting for LSS to straighten out the mess they made with Juliette’s birth certificate and then finally filing our petition with the court and then the court saying on Wednesday that there were “issues” with our filing that prevented them giving us a hearing date, I arrived to work this morning and got a phone call from the program manager at LSS telling us they were hand-delivering one more item to the clerk of the court that the clerk’s office wanted and that the clerk had penciled us in on the judge’s calendar for a finalization hearing Thursday morning at 9:30. Oh, lord, I can hardly believe it, but I am so very, very happy at this unexpected turn of events. Keeps your fingers (and whatever else is worth it!) crossed that all goes off without a hitch and that we wake up Friday morning to the certain knowledge that she is ours forever!
Praise be to God! At long last the paperwork was signed yesterday. The 10 day waiting period now begins. Legal risk will expire for us on August 11th at 4:30 p.m., while we are in Florida visiting mom. Here is a picture taken last night. I think the relief is written all over Harald’s face.
I just got a message from our social worker, Michelle. Our birth mother’s social worker finally got in touch with her and they had a conversation about the consent forms. She reported she felt really sad for the first few days after delivery, but now she feels very good about the adoption going forward, especially after last week’s home visit. She is fully intending to sign the consents, and they are only trying to coordinate a day when she can go into the office with her parents (since she is a minor) to sign the forms. You know, in my mind I thought this was going to happen just fine. But my heart never got the message. Until I got that message from Michelle. And then I started crying and couldn’t stop. What a blessed relief to know that all we are talking about is the “mere formality” of organizing a time to get the paper signed! I can’t tell you what a weight felt like had been lifted off my shoulders when I got this news. Can you imagine the difficulty of loving a newborn child with all your being, knowing that there is a possibility (no matter how small) that you may not get to keep her? I feel like my moment has come and I no longer have to wait to exhale.
Hallelujah, what a glorious day!
For those of you who have not heard, I just wanted you to know that our latest attempt at enlarging our family failed this past week when the birth mother suddenly changed her mind and decided to parent the beautiful little baby girl, who we will always know as Siri Grace, last Thursday night. She was born at 10:07 p.m. and Harald and I were both there assisting Jennifer during the delivery. We were there for almost the entire 26 hour labor, and were with her for every push. But apparently it was not meant to be. We worked so hard on building a strong relationship with the birth mother over the past 5 months, and this feels like such a devastating and personal blow.
As you might imagine, we feel a profound, and at times overwhelming, sadness and sense of loss. It feels like we had a daughter, and then lost her. I vascillate between being OK and on an even keel and in emotional pain so strong that it bends me in half. For all the grief I have experienced over the years, for friends, lovers, dear family – I have never felt this. I can’t even begin to put words to it. But I know that facing people is particularly hard for both of us right now. Even though we aren’t making any decisions immediately, both of us have said this feels like it might be the end of our dream to become parents, and that only makes the grief that much more intense. Maybe time and space will bring different results.
We have each decided to take some time off from work, just to be with one other in our process of grief and healing, and to try to figure out which pieces to pick up and put back and where. Our faith is a constant help to us and I’ve been profoundly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit during the past few days. I have no doubt that God is with us. And I thank my God at all times for Harald’s presence, because I can’t imagine surviving this without him by my side.
I’m so sad I’m crying. Earlier today Del Martin passed away. It is so terribly sad when our most beloved and valiant warriors fall. What a giant she was in the struggle for equal rights for gay men and lesbians everywhere. She was one of my early and formative icons, and she made life so much better for gay men and lesbians all over this country – whether they know it or not. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has a press release up about her passing.
Bless your soul, dear Del. You will never be forgotten. You had the fortitude to stand up for what you believed in when practically the entire world was against you. To me, that makes you one of the greatest Americans.
Rest in Peace, Del. God knows you deserve it after all you’ve been through.
You may now refer to me as an “Award Winning” apple jelly maker, thankyouverymuch. H’s sister took in a jar of jelly to submit to the Target Corp. HR’s annual applefest today and it won in the recipe competition – the word just came from the contest judges. Hey, those Target people aren’t easy to please or persuade, dontchaknow! Ok, ok, so there were only a half-dozen or so other entries it had to beat, but we’ll just keep that small detail to ourselves, shall we? As H’s mom said when I called to share our success, “so far everyone who tastes it says it’s the best apple jelly.” Too damned bad I didn’t know about the half-pint jar requirement, or I could have entered it in next year’s State Fair. I told Karin nobody would mess with her now that they know she’s a serious jelly maker – nobody wants to tussle with people who are at ease handling boiling pots of lava! A suitable end to a week, dontchathink?
To see the entry from earlier this year when we made our jelly, click here.
Harald just call to tell me that he would be out of town over the second weekend in November. OK, I wondered, what for? He just got a call that he an another teacher had been accepted as presenters at the bi-annual Minnesota Reading Association in Duluth. So my sweetie will be up on the North Shore, sharing what he knows to a group of earnest listeners. As he progresses in his doctoral program, these conference presentations are important. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of him. I always knew he was star material, and now he will get to show that to others, too!
We went to Slumberland yesterday after church and looked for a replacement for the sofa that wouldn’t fit through the door last week when it was delivered. We found a nice oatmeal chenille sofa that was just the right size, and we get a refund because it was cheaper than the original one. It was just small enough to fit into his dad’s expedition, so we ran to the warehouse yesterday and picked it up and now our den feels more complete. Cleo loves the new sofa! And we got lots unpacked this weekend, so aside from about 12 boxes in the garage and the stuff at each of our places that hasn’t come over yet, we’re all moved in and unpacked. Which feels MARVELOUS!
We had our house blessing on Saturday and it was such a gorgeous day and such a beautiful and intentional ceremony and everyone just loved it. Many had never been to a house blessing and a lot of people commented on the lovely prayers for each room (for which I thank Betsy who was such a gem about sending ideas). We blessed each room with aspersion and the lighting of a white candle and as we moved into each room, we rang my favorite Tibetan bell and then read the prayer. Afterwards, we had mimosas and a fabulous brunch of quiche, spinach/walnut/strawberry salad with a raspberry balsamic dressing, a bowl of mixed fresh fruit, fresh scones, pumpkin bread, cranberry bread. And Harald’s aunt made her phenomenal homemade German chocolate cake which is just to-die-for delicious. All in all, it was a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable event for everyone!