By Lynn G.
Through most of my 20s and 30’s, I was a legal assistant for various sole practitioners and law firms. I was always a fast typist in high school, and had a knack for pushing paper, so naturally my family guided me toward what I was good at. Problem was, I hated it. Every now and then, I felt great helping somebody through their bankruptcy or their divorce; however, overall, it was soul draining. I got tired of the Friday night calls from custodial parents asking, “Do I really have to send Johnny on visitation even though his dad is 30 minutes late?” Being a stepmother to a divorced man, made it more difficult since we dealt with our own legal drama on a regular basis.
I always knew I wanted children and I always knew that I wanted to adopt a child. Being an adopted person myself probably factored into this dream. Having a committed and devoted mother was also a very large factor. Before I got married June 22, 1991, my husband and I agreed on having one child even though deep down I knew I wanted two. He had his daughter from a previous marriage and I loved her but I yearned for a child who would call me mommy.
After trying for a year, our son, Matthew, was conceived and born February 15, 1994. I underestimated the beauty of seeing a genetic relative for the first time in my life. Being raised by parents and a sibling not biologically related to me was something I just grew up with as normal, but I learned that the genetic bond is very deep and mysterious and was a welcome surprise to me. I never thought I could ask or want for more.
I had hoped to be able to stay home and parent Matthew full time but economically, it wasn’t feasible, so I continued with the law firms and the soul-draining work by day and enjoyed my boy by night and weekends. Since our son was in a private school, this forced me to work for the law firm full time. I managed, but I knew this was not where I belonged.
When Matt was 2, I got pregnant for a second time and had a miscarriage. Then the following year, I got pregnant again and lost that baby at 14 weeks. I experienced labor for a baby I knew would never call me mommy. It was devastating. Psychologically, my husband was done. He couldn’t take any more grief of losing babies and he decided on a vasectomy. I was heartbroken.
As Matthew continued through elementary school, I continued to have the dream. It would show up when I’d be in the shower. I would be thinking about that kid I was going to adopt someday. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew it would happen. I figured I better get moving on the particulars.
I somehow convinced my husband to go through the foster parent/adoption training at a local family services agency. Looking back, I believe his heart was only partly in it but being the supportive spouse that he is, he went to every training and dealt with hours of interviews by a social worker. We completed the certification process and waited. We only got a couple calls and it was for sibling groups. We had already decided we were not going to parent siblings. We only wanted one child, preferably a girl.
And then something happened that my husband had been anticipating for many years. His daughter, by now, age 16, wanted to come live with us. She moved in the summer of 2003. We were very happy that she wanted to be a full time part of our family. What we didn’t realize was the extent of the psychological damage that had been done to her the 15 years before she moved in. The rest of the story sounds predictable for a child of divorce. Within a year, she was pregnant by a boy she went to high school with. She was 5 months along before any of us knew. We had just a few short months to find a doctor and prepare for a grandbaby!
Over the next few months, my stepdaughter was repeatedly expressing to us that she did not want to be a parent. The baby’s father was not involved and my stepdaughter was very scared of raising this child alone without an education. It happened gradually, but within those few months, I absolutely knew without a doubt, this baby would be coming home with us. I also absolutely knew this was going to be my baby. It sounds crazy, but I just knew. My intuition and purpose were screaming loudly into my ear even though in Montgomery County, Ohio, where we live, the clerk told me that they had no other case of grandparents adopting a grandchild at birth. The plan was made before the baby arrived on December 16, 2004.
Since I had recently been laid off my job at the United States Bankruptcy Court, we were low on funds. We could not afford an adoption attorney. I knew that I could file this adoption myself, even though I had no real background in adoption law. I was absolutely terrified to make a mistake so I researched for many months, filed all the paperwork and dotted i’s and crossed t’s, heald my breath, made friends with the Clerk’s Office and was later congratulated by one of the Clerks for doing a better job than the adoption lawyers. The adoption was final June 24, 2005.
I stayed home full time with our baby this time around. We made our lifestyle fit around our kids instead of trying to fit our kids around our lifestyle. I was there for all of her “firsts” and enjoyed every second of it. Now my little girl is 7 years old. I’m at her school every day to pick her up, to take her to appointments, to play at the park. Working for law firms is no longer part of my life and I am grateful. I currently work a low-status job at a restaurant so I can have exactly the hours that fit around my family. People ask me all the time why I don’t go back to law. It’s really hard to explain it to people because the legal field is so glamorized in the media and as a profession itself.
Dreams seem to come in packs. Ever since my daughter’s adoption, another big dream of mine came true. In 2006, I sought out my birth family and had a reunion with my birth mother and sister. I wrote about this experience and my story was chosen to be published in an adoption reunion book entitled, “Pieces of Reunion”.
I now also help run a support group called Grandparents Raising Grand Kids*. This group consists of mostly grandparents and relatives who have legal custody of minor children. I manage the grandparent website and for one of our members, a very distressed grandfather, helped walk him through the legal system while he held his breath and prayed that the Judge would grant him Legal Custody. It went exactly as he had hoped and as I saw him cry following the Judge’s decision, I realized for the second time since my daughter’s adoption, why I worked in law all those years.
*if you click into the website: Grandparents Raising Grand Kids*, you will see my mother and son at the top of the page, my daughter in the middle and myself (pictured with Kenny Loggins) on the bottom.