As told by "WavyBel's" parents, "M&M"
Who We Are & How we Became an Adoptive Family
For the privacy of the family, "WavyBel's" parents are referred to as "M&M"
Matt and I met when we were both interns at our church. I was 20 and he was 23. We were instantly drawn to each other and started dating a couple of months after becoming fast friends.
Two summers later we got married.
Before we got married, we talked about what we would do if I could not get pregnant. I have always been compelled by the idea of adoption, and we agreed that we would pursue that if the need arose, and maybe even if the need did not arise!
Soon after we got married, I experienced some medical issues. Once they were resolved, we started the process of trying to start a family. After a year of trying to get pregnant, we decided we were not interested in pursuing fertility treatments or in spending more money in an attempt to "figure out the problem."
Instead, we started researching domestic and international adoption. We ultimately decided that domestic adoption was the best fit for us. We love the concept and institution of adoption. And so we happily and eagerly began the adoption process.
On our fourth wedding anniversary, we got a phone call from our adoption agency saying that a wonderful and brave woman had picked Matt and I to be the parents of her unborn baby girl.
The next day we met the birth mother of our first child and began a lovely relationship with her.
Six weeks later, our daughter Harper was born.
I had the joy of being the first person to hold her. Matt cut the umbilical cord. We love Harper's birth mother and consider her a part of our extended family.
We have always felt so thankful to God that he has created our family in a way that is even more perfect than we would have ever dreamed.
June 23, 2008: We Became a Family of Four
As is often the case with adoption, we got a phone call on June 23, 2008 saying that a baby girl had been born that day and that the birth mother had chosen to place the baby for adoption.
She had chosen us as the family that would parent this new baby girl!
From the moment we received that phone call, she has surely been our daughter.
We waited an agonizing 27 hours from the time that we got that call to meet our sweet girl. She was the child we had been praying for and anticipating.
When we got to the hospital, I picked her up for the first time and she nestled into my arms... I cried and thanked God that I was her mother.
We gave our baby girl a beautiful name and we began to call her by her nickname: WavyBel.
It was an exciting and special time as we met our little girl and brought her home from the hospital to meet her big sister, Harper.
We were thrilled to be a family of four!
From the start, Harper has always been kind and nurturing to "WavyBel". She calls her "Little Honey Bee" and "Miss Fluffy Feathers"... two nicknames that she gave her sister all by herself.
In her first days at home, whenever "WavyBel" would cry, Harper would make sure we responded immediately! She did not like Waverley to be upset even for a minute.
Today, she continues to be a care taker to her little sister. She loves to sing her songs and bring her toys. I keep waiting for the honeymoon to be over! But so far, she is a wonderful, adoring big sister!
The Routine Legal Stuff
As is the case with all adoptions, there was a bit of routine legal work that had to be done, even after "WavyBel" was in our custody. Our adoption attorney began working on the routine paperwork to prepare for our hearing to finalize our adoption. This is typically a very happy and exciting time as everything becomes "official".
When we finalized our three year old daughter Harper's adoption, she was two months old. Much like a marriage ceremony, we promised before God and the court, that we would love and care for her forever. It was a joyous and tender moment for our family. A moment that we fully expected to soon experience with our 2nd daughter, "WavyBel".
The Unexpected Surprise
As our attorney worked to finalize "WavyBel's" adoption, the birth father came forward and contested the adoption by asserting his desire to parent "WavyBel". He claimed that the birth mother told him the baby had died in a miscarriage. He claimed he now wanted to raise her.
The birth mother wholeheartedly disputed this claim. She alleged that he never showed any interest in the pregnancy or the baby. Nor did he ever offer any form of support to her... something that is required by state law for a father to retain his rights.
The birth father is young - 20 years old at the time of "WavyBel's" birth. His lifestyle is not at all conducive to being a good parent. He lives with his mother and is immersed in a lifestyle of both alcohol and drugs.
It has become evident that his mother, the biological grandmother, is the one who really wants the baby and is driving the paternity contest. She even testified to the court that she wanted her son to raise a child because she thought it would help him to grow up and become responsible. She appears to be driving the adoption contest in every way. The birth father still seems uninterested in being a parent.
The Grueling Legal Battle
Because the adoption was being contested by the birth father, we were forced to go to court. This was both an extreme emotional and financial stress to us.
There were two outcomes available from the court case:
1. We would be able to adopt "WavyBel" and raise her as our daughter, or
2. She would be taken out of our home and placed in the custody of the birth father.
Our hearts sank when our lawyer informed us that there was a "significant risk" that we would lose our daughter.
This court process has to be the most grueling and painful ordeal we've ever had to endure.
Our emotional and financial stability were rocked to the core.
The trial date was delayed several times for unusual circumstances so we weren't able to get to court until mid December when "WavyBel" was 6 months old.
Once the trial began, it became clear that there were many lies and misrepresentations going on among both birth parents. The case seemed to get more messy and unclear each day.
After waiting 3 months just to get a court date, we were allotted a mere 3 1/2 hours for the case to be heard.
Because of the complexity and ever-changing stories of the birth parents, we ended up going to court for a total of 3 different full days stretched out over a period of several months.
Each session of court was brutal and we walked out of the courtroom feeling that our chances of finalizing "WavyBel's" adoption were pretty bleak. Even our lawyer tried to be realistic with us and warned that he felt that the judge's decision would not be in our favor.
Adoption law is based on precedent and in Kansas, the current law states that the court is not supposed to consider the "best interest of the child" in making its ruling.
While this law seems outrageous and tragic, it is the current law.
(We are hopeful that our case will, in part, will help to change this law.... read on!)
Through the long court process, the waiting and "not knowing" was incredibly grueling and burdensome on both our emotional and financial capacities. As time went on, our already significant legal bills mounted as did our emotional and physical stress. We longed to have the case resolved, either way, so that we could move on together as a family.
As difficult as it was, we did our best to protect our daughter's from the stress we were enduring. We continued to go on providing a happy, normal and stable family environment for our family.
We celebrated holidays....
We took vacations....
We marked and celebrated WavyBel's "firsts"....
We watched our girls grow more in love with each other every day....
And we, too, fell more and more deeply in love with our daughter every day.
And the Waiting Continued ...
At the time of the court's impending decision, "WavyBel" was 9 months old and had been parented by us since she was a mere 32 hours old. She was a happy girl who had a stable home environment, loving parents and grandparents, and a big sister who adored her.
Each day that we waited for the court's decision, we agonized over the possibility that not only would our daughter be taken from us, but also that she would grow up in the home of a man who was seemingly not capable of being a good father to her. We feared for our daughter's safety and happiness. We worried about how she would feel growing up in a home with no mother and a father who seemed unlikely to put her needs first.
We feared this happy, smiling girl would be taken from the only home she had ever known and placed in one where her ultimate happiness would not be a priority.
After the trial portion of the case was finished, we had to wait another 8 grueling weeks for a decision from the judge.
Answered Prayers: Our Miracle!
In early March, we got the call from our attorney.... the one we were scared to get, yet longed for as a resolution.
All he said was...
"We won! I can't believe it. We won!"
We were elated and so grateful to the God who heard and answered the prayers of literally hundreds of our friends, family members, and people we didn't even know! It was a time in our lives when we have been able to clearly see God work before our very eyes and perform what can only be called...
The joy and peace of knowing that "WavyBel" would remain our daughter was unlike anything we have ever known.
The Journey & Battle Continues
A few weeks after the court's decision was announced, we got the heart-wrenching news that the birth father would be appealing the court's decision.
And that brings us to where we are today.
As hard as it is to say, "WavyBel", at 16 months of age, is still not "officially" our daughter. But she is our daughter in every other sense of the word.
The appeals process has begun and we are waiting on news of the hearing date. After hearing the appeals (in which no new evidence is allowed to be introduced), the court will make a ruling at a later date.
We have been told that a final ruling from the appeals court can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months.... after the hearing has occured.
The appeals court will ultimately decide whether to uphold the judge's decision or reverse it. Upholding it would keep Waverley in our home and be the end of the legal process unless the birth father decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. Reversing the decision would take Waverley from us and would force us to then appeal to the Supreme Court.
In all likelihood, Waverley will be 1 1/2 years or older at the time the appeals process is complete.
And so we have to endure more waiting, more "not knowing".
Trying to comprehend any chance that we could lose our daughter is, quite simply, too much to bear. It is a terrifying reality that we have to swallow each day.
We recently celebrated WavyBel's first birthday.
The fear of what it would be like in our home without our little girl nags at us even on the happiest of days we have with her.
Our Faith & Hope Continues...
for our Family & Others
Since we won our first case, we breathe much easier than we did throughout the initial trial. However, we never lose sight of the fact that this isn't over yet.
One encouraging piece of information is that the National Association of Adoption Attorneys has decided to write an Amicus brief on our behalf supporting our position against the birth father.
This is exciting on many levels, especially since it is a fairly rare thing for them to do. We have been told that our case has the potential to create new precedent in the realm of adoption proceedings. That is why this Association has an interest in our case.
To win the appeal would mean more than just a victory for our family... it has the potential to change Kansas adoption law so that the court will be able to consider "the best interest of the child" as part of its future decision making. It has the potential to provide hope for future adoptive families too!
Until then we are waiting and putting our hope and faith in God. Because He is Our Almighty God.
And we pray with confidence that we will soon be able to celebrate, "officially", what we have known in our hearts for so long now...
that "WavyBel" is our daughter and always will be!