While driving back home from a family wedding in Texas in October, we got a call from an agency we provide temporary pre-adoption fostering for that a baby boy had been born across the state from us. He would need fostering until a court date in a couple of weeks to terminate the parental rights of the non-involved biological father. He was still in NICU and they’d let us know when he was ready for discharge. We hung up to discuss it and almost said, “no.” After all, we just got all relaxed from vacation and I was ready to get back to working on projects. Should we take in a newborn now?
We couldn’t wait… the anticipation is always big around here.
The day after our 9th anniversary, on October 22nd, we got the call that he was ready, so we picked up our son from school and drove to the hospital, arriving at shift change, so we had to wait an hour to see him. I was very impatient. Only Kristin could go in because kids aren’t allowed in NICU, so we waited to see them through one of the many windows.
He was only 5lbs 12oz and had been drug-exposed and on IV antibiotics for the last 10 days. We were in love right away. He had a head full of red hair, really red hair, so the nurses had been calling him Rusty, but he did not have a legal name yet. His birth mom left without naming him. /sadface
When we got home just before midnight, we spent a while picking out a fitting name for such a perfect boy with red hair. I thought he looked so intelligent, I started looking up geeky names for boys. We settled on Parker (Peter Parker, to be exact – SWIDT? Petersen. Peter Parker.). He just looked like a Parker to us. This has since become his legal first name for his Medicaid and shots records.
Parker got to stay
The court date came and it did not go in the agency’s favor because the bio dad appeared, which set a trial date. This meant we got to keep Parker for even longer! As the weeks passed, he has become more and more a part of our family and we were realizing that “goodbye” was going to hurt, and hurt a lot.
Fast forward through the holidays, we’d been waiting to hear word about the trial date so we could emotionally prepare for him to go home to his forever family who had been waiting since we heard of him. Then our world turned upsidedown.
The adoptive family backed out because the bio dad hired a lawyer to contest the trial.
The big question
We’d fantasized for many-a-newborn (like a dozen of them) what it would be like to get to keep one, but knew it wasn’t in the cards because each one has a family who has been waiting. I know I’ve put more than my fair share of dreaming of life with Parker growing up with our 6yo. When we heard on Tuesday that there was no more adoptive family, we took the risk and asked if we could be considered, even though we didn’t have an adoptive profile. Holding at 34 foster children since 2012, our foster profile is solid, but this would be our first private agency adoptive profile.
They said “Sure! That would be ideal – you’re the only family he’s ever known and you’re already mutually attached.”
The unexpected condition
What we didn’t expect was their terms to make it official. They need $10,000 in legal fees by January 13th to continue the case, which is expected to happen in March. If they win the case, then we enter the next phase of adoption fees, but the legal fees are up front and completely at risk and non-refundable, as they go directly to the legal team.
We know the evidence the agency has and their lawyers feel confident enough to continue, so we are all-in. The bummer is that we don’t have $10k just laying around to write a check without putting our household in jeopardy. I’ll work as hard as I can with the next phase and we’ll have garage sales and extra jobs and fundraisers, but this fee is out of our immediate reach.
Our reasons for moving forward
Right now, we know that if we were to wash our hands of little Parker because of $10,000 we don’t have we would be making absolutely the wrong decision. Yes, we’re scared thinking of the rest of our lives with two boys instead of one, but what family expecting their second child isn’t?
How do you put a price on a life? We can’t seem to do it. He is precious to us as if he were our own blood, just as our other adopted son is. His adoption was free through the state, but Parker is with a private agency, which is where this became a different scenario.
We 100% don’t want money to be the reason Parker doesn’t get to have a smooth life, as well as the trauma on our 6-year-old and us. Money comes and goes, but our love for this little guy was never going to go away. The pain would only dim, but never disappear.
If the case is successful, the only thing remaining is to continue with the adoption fees and have about 6 home visits from their social worker. The initial phase of legal fees does include some unpaid expenses to the biological mother that were never paid, so that is why the goal for Phase 1 is $12,000. Phase 2 has been estimated to cost $25,000, payable after successful trial, and appeal, if there is one.
Would you consider joining in with us to give this sweet, abandoned boy a forever family with the only people he has ever known?