This guest post is by Kerstin Lindquist at KerstinLindquistQVC .
There are five huge paperwork milestones that you have to go through when you adopt a baby in the United States. Five steps that make you hold your breath and pray for strength to make it through the next day, or hour, or minute.
In the year and a half it took to adopt our daughter Grace, I didn’t exactly jump those hurdles with my own grace, but I survived. Each time we passed another step I would cry my eyes out with relief and gratitude.
The Birth Father Milestone
The first was when the birth father signed away his rights months before the birth.
The second was when the birth mother signed away her rights as she was being wheeled out of the hospital. In California, the birth mother can sign a waiver at the same time, and that will cut the 30-day waiting period to just 24 hours. Our daughter’s birth mother signed the papers at 5pm on a Monday in June.
Since Grace was born three weeks early, I had to go back to my job as a television news anchor for a couple hours that summer day. My body was still buzzing with joy. I felt almost numb from all the emotions. While I was on set I got a phone call that the birth mother signed the waiver, she could no longer changer her mind.
I felt like warm water was flooding from my head, to my heart, down to my toes. Relief; it was physical. The next day at 5 p.m. we had a little celebration because the waiting period was over. Grace was ours. That third hurdle was behind us.
It took the entire summer and fall for the state to process our paperwork and in early November we were given a court date for finalization. December 3rd. I didn’t think that would be a big event for me.
Grace was ours. This, to me, was just a formality but it took about 30 seconds for me to start crying that day in the courtroom. Grace was almost six months old and now, in the eyes if the court, she was all ours.
The Birth Certificate Milestone
The fifth and final milestone wasn’t supposed to come for another two years! It would take that long to have her new birth certificate issued. When you give birth to a child you can automatically get that birth certificate within a month.
It’s something that’s fun to see but it isn’t until you CAN’T get a birth certificate for your child (at least not one with your name on it) that you understand how precious that piece of paper is. Think about what you can’t do without a birth certificate.
Getting a passport was impossible, getting her into school, the doctors, etc. but most of all it just meant that on paper, I was not her mother. I love her birth mother. I’m thankful for that part of Grace’s life, but I wanted to be recognized as her mom, even if I didn’t give birth to her.
So it was on a sunny and warm spring day three months later when I opened the mail and there it was a year and a half early. This little piece of paper that meant it was over, Step No. 5 had passed. Looking at her birth certificate took my breath away.
My name was in the mother line. It had been a long 15 months since we were matched with Grace’s birthmom. It was emotional and painful and it was all worth it. I was Grace’s mom, she was now my daughter, nothing and no one could ever change that. I was instantly humbled. I was full of Grace. What a fitting name for this child.
That document hung on the refrigerator all spring and summer. Now when I look at it I can instantly return to that mailbox on a spring day. I can smell the blooming flowers, the rain that was only a few days before.
I can feel the sun and a breeze that was taking the long winter away. I can see the sun a little brighter and my shoes in flip-flops for the first time in too long. Winter is over, that long hard process of creating a family gone with it. Spring will forever be a little sweeter because of what arrived that day.
Kerstin Lindquist is a Program Host on QVC, an author, adoption and infertility advocate, and the mother of two daughters born five months apart. You can read her story at KerstinLindquistQVC and 5 Months Apart.
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