Last Friday we had our *final* mediation for Baby S. It was scheduled for 2pm, so we headed out at 12:30, managed to get lost (even though we have been to this court house three times!) but arrived on time…only to find out that the case worker and the birth parents weren’t there yet.
So we waited. It was very awkward sitting in the hallway outside a court room with the birth parents lawyers, and the law guardian and the mediator and the case manager. They were talking about different cases and pretty much ignoring us, which was fine by me!
At 2:30 our case worker arrived with the birth father. Apparently the birth mother was in the car, but when it was time to leave she said that *she wasn’t ready to face everyone* and refused to go. Thankfully the birth father came so we could at least sit down and talk.
If you have never been in a mediation before, here it is in a nutshell. Everyone goes into the room and sits at a long table. In our case it was us, the birth father, the birth father’s lawyer, the birth mother’s lawyer, the mediator, the law guardian (for S), the Assistant District Attorney, the case manager and the case worker. Yep. Next we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which means that nothing said in the mediation can be talked about at trial or in front of a judge, unless it was allegations of abuse.
It’s kind of crazy that since we have done this three times we were used to all of this!!
The mediator asked the birth father if he had done any preparations to care for S, and he talked about himself, and the birth mom and LOTS of other stuff that I really didn’t want to know, but he spilled it anyway. Then he said he was prepared to surrender his parental rights to us. (wow)
Everyone left the room except the birth father and his lawyer, so the lawyer could explain everything to him and make sure he really understood what he was doing. More awkward silence in the hallway while we waiting to go back in. Traditionally Ken and I would go back in with the mediator so the birth father could ask for visits, contact, etc.
We were stunned when after 5 minutes both the birth father and his lawyer came out and said that the birth father was ready to sign. The lawyers found a judge and an open court room and we were ushered in immediately. This was ALL new to us – we’ve never been in a courtroom before.
The judge asked the birth father if he understood what he was doing, and then the lawyer had to ask him all these questions about his decision. The birth father did something called an Identified Surrender, which means that he surrendered his parental rights to US. That is HUGE. This means that no one from the birth father’s family or anyone he recommends can adopt S – he stated legally that we were the best choice for his son and that is why he chose us.
That is humbling, folks. Yes, this man has made some mistakes and he really needs to get his life in order. But he put his son before himself. He knew that he couldn’t provide for him and didn’t want him languishing in the foster care system for years. He wanted his son to be a part of a family, to have siblings who love him. He wanted his son to have the care that he can’t provide – and he chose us.
Sitting in the darkened room I couldn’t see his face. I heard his voice tremble a bit when he answered the questions and my heart broke for him. Every adoption begins with a loss, and this is his. I pray that when we send him photos of S that he smiles and that he will always know how thankful we are to him for giving us his son.
Because the birth mom did not appear we are still heading to trial in April. Everyone feels that she will surrender now that the birth father has, and I pray she does so that we can move forward with his adoption. However, we know that God has perfect timing and that He has this all planned out for His glory.