The following is my family’s journey through adoption.
In 2009 my first husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Addisyn. Though the marriage ended after a year and a half, Addisyn maintained a relationship with her biological father. For the first two years of her life, Eli balanced the occasional time spent with his active duty schedule. In an attempt to facilitate their relationship I allowed him to fly out of state to meet his family. I went so far as to allowing him to stay in my home to ensure she could see him.
Unfortunately, trouble caught up to him and he ultimately fell out of Addisyn’s life.
I didn’t introduce Evan to Addisyn right away; I made it clear that unless he was serious, they wouldn’t be around each other. It wasn’t long before the self proclaimed bachelor vowing never to have children, was showing up to the park. Evan asked to take Addisyn to a football game, he asked to take her to Disneyland and then he asked us to be a family. Falling in love with Addisyn, Evan was learning to be a dad.
Will he or won’t he?
After learning about the domestic violence I experienced, Evan made it clear that he would never feel comfortable sending our daughter for visits. This started to beg the question, is he considering adopting? I would be lying if I said it wasn’t something I had fantasized about. In all fairness I wasn’t the only one who had wondered that.
As much as I hoped Evan would want to adopt my daughter, the decision had to be made by Evan alone. She had already tested the waters by calling him “daddy” but I could imagine legally taking a child as your own takes time to process.
Without the implication of adoption, Evan asked what it would take to severe ties with her father altogether. It took one facebook message and one week’s time before I received a notarized letter from my ex husband. The letter simply stated that he wished to relinquish all parental rights and that he understood Evan wished to adopt Addisyn- if only it were that simple!
He was ready…
After welcoming a son and being married, Evan was ready to legally adopt Addisyn.
In all honesty you can handle the adoption process on your own. We chose to use a lawyer, doing so brought reassurance it’d be done properly.
The first step, after writing that check of course, was to locate my ex husband and and serving him. Eli had been dishonorably discharged from the military after his second wife pressed charges for domestic violence and I didn’t know where he ended up. Not knowing where he was meant the lawyer had to perform a “skip trace.” From my understanding, a skip trace was just a fancy way of using what information they had in order to locate him.
Eli legally had 50/50 custody but hadn’t seen Addisyn in 3 years and he certainly hadn’t helped provide but he was so unpredictable I feared he would contest. We were at his mercy. Within a month all legal documents were signed and returned.
Now we wait.
All we had left to do was to go before a judge for the court’s ruling. The lawyer stated that it could take up to and possibly more than six months. Our court date came weeks later!
Every state has different laws regarding step parent adoption and no process is ever the same.
Addisyn wore the cutest chiffon summer dress with metallic sandals, almost too small for her feet. She requested that her hair be down and curly. There the three of us sat, this little girl sandwiched between her parents was so nervous she fought back tears.
The judge proceeded to ask Addisyn a handful of questions an if I am being honest…. I don’t remember what the questions were. I was trying so hard not to cry and marveling in how blessed I was in that moment that all I heard was “Congratulations, adoption granted.”
The final step was to pay for a new birth certificate. Since her biological father relinquished all parental rights and the adoption was granted, his name was removed from the birth certificate and replaced with Evan’s.
How Evan feels…
It’s easy for me to tell our adoption story from my point of view, so I asked Evan to share his thoughts.
“Adoption to me means everything and nothing all at the same time. I’ll explain, it means everything to me and my family because it was how we (Addisyn and I) officially became father and daughter, one family, on paper. With that came, maybe, the biggest aspect- the name change.”
“I always wondered how she felt because myself, my wife and my son had one last name and she had another. I remember asking her how she felt but she never admitted she felt anything about it. To me, her sharing the same last name was the last and most important thing- maybe for me it was everything.”
“The adoption process means nothing to me because I would rather it not be acknowledged. Long before the process even started we were father and daughter. She was me and I was her. We act alike at times, we are the only two with a certain sense of humor and I’ll blame her for my becoming a little softer. Ha, ha! I’ll give her that one!”
A letter to Addisyn…
You will never have to look far to find me. You will never have to go to sleep wondering who has your back, I do. You’ll understand me better when I say ” you’ve got a friend in me.” I am here to make sure any “dream that you wish will come true.” One thing I want you to know is “you’re braver that you believe, and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” So I want you to think of impossible things before breakfast, everyday, and let’s work to make them possible. Last but not least, no matter what, lets “just keep swimming”…Oh wait, I’ll tell you something you don’t know- the greatest gift and honor is have you for a daughter.”