In honor of May being National Foster Care Month, Strengthening Families, Changing Lives is running a special series designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of foster care and adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
How Elijah Came Into My Life
by Melissa Probst, Wisconsin foster-adoptive mom
Day two and beyond
The next day happened to be Mother’s Day, and we had a family function to go to. I was nervous; the event was about an hour and a half away and there would be a good amount of people there. Would Elijah be okay? Would he be scared? It was a lot of change for him all at once.
We got there and a family friend read books to him; he was in heaven! He also played ball (throwing it up and down the stairs) with the guys. He was amazingly fine. I’ve since learned that he just adjusts well. Now, don’t get me wrong, not ALL kids in the system adjust this well. They have been through so much that the change either doesn’t bother them or sets them right over the edge.
That next week, he started a new daycare. Again, I was the one who was nervous about it! Elijah did great. I think I called three or four times that first day to check on him. When I picked him up, he came running to me and gave me a hug.
Things continued to go well; we had a routine down and Elijah was thriving. He was talking more and more and his speech was improving. Three months after having him, his case was moved over to the TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) stage. But before the courts would terminate Elijah’s birth parents’ rights, they needed to have an “adoption resource” ready for him. Bottom line: they needed someone to adopt him. I panicked. I knew that I just wanted to foster. Could I do this on my own? Could I raise him right without a dad in his life? This was a forever decision . . . I had to think about it. I asked his caseworker to put things on hold for a few weeks to give me time to think.
Some members of my family were all for it. Some were only concerned that it would be too much for me. They all loved Elijah, but were just concerned about what all of this would mean for me. After a lot of prayers, thoughts, and sleepless nights, I called his caseworker and said that I wanted to adopt him.
The wheels of the machine started to turn again and the TPR process went through easily for me. My adoption court date was December 22, 2009. That would be the day when Elijah would officially become my son, even though, in my eyes, he was already my son. I had shopping to do! I went out and bought him a five-piece suit and he was ready to go!
The day of his adoption, I cried all the way down the hall to the courtroom. I was trying to explain to Elijah that they were happy tears. Everyone knew it was adoption day by the way he was dressed. Everyone was saying congratulations and the women were melting over him (which was nothing new!).
I got to the end of the hall and there was a man there. He asked if I was okay and I said, “Yes, I just have to find the courtroom,” and kept walking with tears rolling down my face. He called after me to come back, I was at the courtroom. He opened the door, and there was all my family. When we got into the actual courtroom, there was that man, now in a black robe. I was so embarrassed. He just smiled. I cried most of the time in court, too. I was just so happy and relieved that this little boy was now my son and his name would officially be Elijah.
After court was done, Judge Murray came down, gave all of us a hug, and gave Elijah a toy. We took pictures and then went out to lunch with some family members. It was a great day . . . even if I cried through most of it!