Chapter 39 – The Court Hearing
So today is the day, one of the most important days in the entire adoption process and our entire lives to date, “the court hearing” where we find out if the birth parents will contest or whether the judge will decide that boy is to be legally ours. It’s been a long intense eighteen months and this morning we will finally know what we have been secretly dreading, the final decision and hopefully move forward with full parental rights and essentially start to make all of the boy’s decisions. Paperwork wise this means the boys surname and birth certificate will be changed and legally we can apply for his passport and take him out of the country if we choose to. Of course, we are not even thinking about going abroad or any other type of holiday at the moment, even if it does sound amazing, we will just be happy that we can move on and start making memories as a family, without the weight of the unknown on our shoulders. Richard has taken the day off work so we can both be together when we get the call, as there is no way I want to be alone with the boy sobbing my heart out if it’s not the news we are hoping for. Gemma has visited in the week just to go over the court hearing and all the possible outcomes, to prepare us for anything that the judge may decide, which was both really useful and at the same time terrifying. The thoughts currently running through both our head at the moment are all about maybe having to say goodbye to the boy, which would be totally heart breaking, but we know that if this is the decision then this would be based on what’s best for the boy and we would have to support the decision, no matter how difficult that will be. In our hearts we are his parents, have adapted to that lifestyle and although you should never plan the future, we have spoken about all the big things that may come up in his life, like if he was to get married and even auditioning for the X Factor and picturing how much of an emotional wreck we would both be if he were to be singing his little heart out, with us waiting in the wings of the stage.
Gemma explained in great detail how the whole court hearing worked, who would be there and to realistically be prepared for the birth parents to contest and for the judge to adjourn the case, delaying court proceedings for a later date. We totally understand why a birth parent would contest, even if there is very little chance of it being overturned, as it is basically the final time a birth parent could attempt to change the court’s decision and rightly fight for their child. If the birth parents can show evidence that they have done what is required of them to parent, then the child deserves to live with them. This situation happening is very slim and the chances of the adoption order being revoked is uncommon, but in our heads, a slim chance is still a chance. I said to Rich that in years to come we will be able to tell the boy that his birth parents did try up until the very last point that they could, to get him back and this might actually comfort him when it all clicks and he realises what adoption really means and understand his own story. We need to put aside our feelings and of course put his first, so in the future, we can explain this day to him with all the love and support possible.
We are not allowed to attend the court hearing as the birth parents will potentially be there and being such a sensitive day, we agree its best we are not, but this does leaves us itching by the phone and feeling totally out of control, which as you know is something very difficult for Rich to handle. We have planned to just have a normal day with the boy and take him out for lunch, somewhere noisy of course, as we are trying to get him used to eating out without all the jumping and loud noises. Rich is playing it cool, but I know his mind is going crazy with overthinking all the different scenarios, he is clearly putting on a brave face so I don’t completely go crazy with worry. I then joke to Rich that wherever we do go today, there must be a toilet close by, as the anxiety has well and truly set in, which means the regular nervous belly toilet breaks will be essential. We have told our families not to text or call us and that we will call them, once we have heard what has happened, both knowing each of the family will be constantly messaging us and we didn’t want to miss the call from Gemma. “Right, let’s just get out of the house and get some lunch, pub in the park is the best option, as that way we can feed the ducks after to keep busy” says Rich. Ok, now I know Rich is worried as he needs to fill the day and distract himself, but this was actually a lovely idea as the boy loves feeding the ducks, well he loves throwing the food into the lake anyways. Phones set to loud as we leave the house and head to the park, leaving behind the stress and worries that are driving us crazy. A nice family walk in the fresh air will do us good, but in the back of our minds this wasn’t going to change anything but the scenery, which may be a bad thing if we get a call in the middle of the park and it’s bad news, as I be a complete mess then in front of any dog walkers passing by.
Gemma texts us to say she has arrived at the court and informs us that it has been delayed, as the earlier cases have overrun and that she will call us when and if she has an update. “Perfect” said Rich, with his frustrated smirk he does when he really wants to go crazy about something but instead keeps it inside. We make our way to the lake with Nutter off the lead, running around like he’s never been out before and growling at anybody or any other dogs approaching the boy with us repeating, “he’s fine, he’s really friendly” to the other owners. Something is in the air today as Nutter is extra crazy running off with both of us shouting “NUTTER” like mad men. I mean whose idea was it to call our dog Nutter, because we are the ones who now look like the complete nutcases shouting his name, which is followed by a tiny little yorkie. We love this park as there are always loads of ducks and swans, which are certainly not shy, knowing what you have for them, meaning they sometimes like to come a little too close for comfort, as we have all heard the stories of Swan’s and what they can do with their necks. Whenever we are around any type of animal or any form of wildlife, Rich transforms into David Attenborough, giving the boy a lecture in the different types and supposedly interesting facts about them which to some may be boring but for me watching on is just really sweet. After a full bag of frozen peas had been launched into the lake and a bunch of very happy ducks, we wave bye and head towards the playground, so they boy can have a go on the swings which he loves. We normally take it in turns as one of us has to stay outside the fence controlling Nutter who goes crazy watching the boys every move through the fence, but I think really that he really just wants to go on the swing next to him.
The playground isn’t that busy which is lovely as the boy can have a little bit more freedom and toddle about, this also means he can have a longer go on the swings and less chance of him kicking off to let the next child have their turn. “Sharing is caring” we both say to him in these situations, which is normally followed with a blank expression as if to say “nope, the swing is mine” but he is still very young and doesn’t understand. Still no news from Gemma and the boy is starting to get hungry, as well as Rich, so we make our way out of the playpark to get some food. The park pub isn’t far from the playground and they allow dogs in, so with being a weekday, again the place wasn’t that busy and we are seated straight away in a good spot for us with a highchair and bowl of water for Nutter. Worried about the court hearing and trying to keep the boy reasonably quiet was all getting a bit too much, as the pub was literally silent and we usually only ever go to noisy restaurants to allow for him to be a bit loud at the table without any complaints. I feel this will get better in time but it’s just the thought of other parents thinking we cannot control our child as we are two Dads and that a mother would be able to calm any situation, which I know is probably my own anxieties and not really what anybody would think. But I cannot help that ‘the perfect parent” thoughts kick in and I just want to leave, but I put this down to having double anxiety with the stress of the court hearing. I can feel my face has dropped and I am easily showing the world how uncomfortable I am, including Rich who is the total opposite and just gets on with it. We ordered our food and the boy is just chilling in the highchair, exhausted from all the exercise he has been doing running around the playground, or possibly he is quietly plotting his plan to jump onto the table once the food has been ordered. The food arrives without any issues and the boy becomes instantly active, trying to grab it off the table, which made us really laugh as he just loves his food and is a bit of a chunk. We are now all fed, watered and relaxed after a nice meal, so we finish our drinks and start to pack up the boy’s bag, double checking to see if he had thrown anything nearby, and picking up the mountain of food below the highchair as there is no way we could leave with that mess behind us. My mobile goes off and I see flashing on the screen ‘Gemma SW’ and my heart stops, “Rich Gemma is calling me”, “answer it then” he replied, so I do nervously. “Hi, Lewis just to let you know I am going into the court now, we have waited but there is no sign of the birth parents and they are not answering our calls so I will ring you back with an update when I have some more information”.
We both look at each other in total shock, as we were not expecting to hear that and decide to go straight home as we now didn’t want to be sat in the pub when Gemma calls back, so Rich puts the boy on his shoulders and we make our way back to the car. In the car we are still shellshocked and now we have a million thoughts going through our heads, so I say to Rich “I can’t believe they haven’t turned up? Maybe they are running late? I’m sure they will turn up to contest?”, so Rich then makes a more serious and concerned looking face before asking “so what did Gemma actually say word for word”, to which I reply “she said they have called them with no answer and have waited longer than they have to” but neither of us expected this and now don’t really know what will happen, but become quite deflated as after all this waiting it looks like there will be no decision today after all.
At home now and all settled in the front room, with toys spread out to keep the boy occupied and help us not to worry about what is currently being decided and the emotions just get the better of me “look at him, how could we ever not be his Daddies” while starting to cry. The whole rollercoaster of today has all got a bit much, as it is now getting so late and we thought we would have found out what is going on by now, so we end up just having a family cuddle with the boy sitting facing the both of us, with his big blues eyes staring at us probably thinking “why are you both crying”. My phone rings again and Gemma’s name is flashing up, “they must have turned up, as it’s only been twenty minutes” Rich says. I put the phone on loud speaker so we can both listen to the update and put on a brave confident voice to take the bad news “Hi Gemma how’s it all going” and she responds with “It’s all done guys, the judge has made his decision to progress and granted the adopted order…he is yours”. We are in shock as this was the last thing we thought would happen and we both just break down into tears, it was as if the heaviest weight you could ever imagine being on your shoulders was lifted and all the worries have disappeared. “OMG Gemma this is amazing, we were so worried and we cannot thank you enough”. We could tell that Gemma was so pleased and could hear the emotion in her voice too, she has truly been amazing through this and we made sure that we told her that about twenty times, before she told us to get off the phone and to ring our parents.
Rich gives me a massive hug and kiss “babe we have our family, he’s actually officially ours” and we are beaming from ear to ear and we pick the boy up and have our first official cuddle as a family.
The relief is amazing but the reality kicks in and I burst back into tears “Why didn’t they turn up, I cannot believe no one turned up for him” I say to Rich. The excitement is bitter sweet as yes, our gorgeous son is going nowhere, but equally, we will have to tell him all about this one day and I can already feel my heart breaking for him as he will feel that rejection. “How could anyone not want him” Rich says and I simply reply “We have always wanted him and that’s what we will tell him every single, so let’s just enjoy this moment and be a family”. The phone calls then began and within an hour we had a house full, all there to celebrate this lovely day with us, where not only did he become our Son officially, but he became a part of our whole family, a Grandson, a Nephew and of course a Cousin to the kids in our family who are already his very best of friends. Now we get to look forward to the celebration hearing or naming ceremony, which will actually be the end of this whole process, that although has seemed to take a long time, it proves the saying that ‘good things come to those who wait’ and we would wait all over again to get the love of our little boy, our gorgeous Son.