I can think of other adjectives

We recently returned from several weeks in New Jersey running through an exhaustive list of things to do in order for Jill to adopt Gus since, as I have already fumed, love doesn’t make a family.

We changed our address. She got fingerprinted. We got NJ drivers’ licenses. She filled out child abuse clearance forms. We registered to vote. The four of us even drove through pouring rain and horrific NYC traffic to get married in Connecticut. We were rear-ended on the George Washington Bridge, less than one hour into our marriage.

Now, back in the Midwest (though permanently residing on the East Coast as far as the courts, our lawyer, and the State of NJ knows) the paperwork continues—a frequent back and forth fixing careless typos and complete misstatements made by our high-priced lawyer’s inept assistant.

In a few months we’ll return for the court date, to tie our family together as tightly and neatly as we can.

Our neighbor was walking to pick up his two kids from school when he saw us pull into our driveway, car crammed with toys, a bed rail, a pack-n-play, coolers, a suitcase of clothes Gus had grown out of since we’d packed the first time around.

We’d been in the car for six weary hours that day, and six hours the day before, stopping far too frequently to do things you don’t have to do when you’re childless—things like breastfeeding and shit cleaning.

“Is the adoption finalized?” he asked cheerfully. We live on a street where news flows easily from house to house, so although I never had the conversation, he knew why we’d hired someone to mow our lawn, walk our dog, bring in our mail, and watch over our house for so long.

“No,” I said. “We were just taking care of paperwork. The adoption should happen sometime this fall.”

“Exciting!” He beamed, with a sort of merry ring to it, the second syllable drawn out, high-pitched. Ex-ciiiite-ing!

I was reminded of the day we adopted Otto. The day I tearfully agreed in front of a courtroom, and another far-too-expensive lawyer whose mileage to court we were later billed for that yes, I would terminate my parental rights, if only for a moment, so we could both adopt the son we’d spent $20,000, several years, and countless late-night crying jags pining for.

It was, according to everyone there, an exciting day. A joyful day. Weren’t we just so lucky.

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