PAGE # 72
Approximately 11:00 am

Tom was in charge of the kids while I tried to understand our confusing and complicated situation.  I spent over an hour on the phone with the attorney.  The uncertain future of our adoption situation overwhelmed me with anxiety.  The attorney, in contrast, showed little concern.
"I think you're overreacting," Shelley began.  "Like I told you yesterday, he hasn't even completed all the steps to contest the adoption."
"I understand that, I do, but what I'm trying to understand is why he would sign the registry if he weren't planning to complete the other steps?  I mean, is there some other reason, besides planning to contest an adoption, that would cause a birthfather to sign the registry?  If not, then I really think we ought to start preparing for a contested adoption."
Shelley sighed.  "I think it's too premature to even think like that right now."
"I need to think like this.  I need to prepare for all the possibilities."
"If you are worried about getting too attached to the baby, I could hire a nanny to watch her at my house," Shelley offered.  "I'd charge you a minimal fee for the childcare."
"That's not fair to Lily," I replied.  I couldn't imagine handing Lily over to some unknown babysitter.  "We're trying to give her the best start she can get, whether we end up adopting her or not."
"Okay then," Shelley said.  "But just know that the offer still stands if you change your mind."
"I'm not going to change my mind about that.  I'm just trying to psychologically prepare."
"Look, even if that interloper does follow through and contest--which is highly unlikely--we don't just give up.  I'd file a motion to terminate his parental rights.  Of course, the judge would need to grant due process and give him his day in court.  But he'd never get the baby."
My head was spinning.  Sure, it was all hypothetical then.  But Shelley spoke as if we were simply making alternate travel arrangements in the event of inclement weather.  This was no vacation!  There were lives and families at stake!  

I tried to comfort myself with the following thoughts:

It won't come to a legal battle anyway.  We have a back-up plan.  Kendra takes the baby back if the adoption gets contested.  

But then new worries emerged:  
"What if the birthfather doesn't contest the adoption within the 30 days but does so a year from now?"  I asked Shelley.
"Exactly one year after the adoption is finalized, no one can contest it for any reason."
"But it will take another 6 months to finalize!  That's a full year and a half from now!  Are you saying we could live with this kind of uncertainty for that long?"
"That's highly unlikely.  My adoptions are almost never contested."
"Well, how many of them are?"
"Not many.  And I've won all of those cases anyway."
"What about the case of Evan Scott?  I was reading about it all night.  His case got dragged out for years."
"I never heard of that case."
"You can't be serious!" I exclaimed.  "It was right here in Florida.  My friends who have nothing to do with adoption remember the news coverage."
"Well, I don't know of that case."
"But it shows there is a possibility that an adoption case could get drawn out for years!  And that there's no way to predict the court ruling!"
"I don't know the case, but it was probably just a matter of shitty lawyering.  I really wish you'd start reading my cases instead.  You need to read up on my "Baby A" case.  I won it at the Supreme Court level.  You needn't be worried."
"Oh my God!  I don't want to end up in the Supreme Court!"
"That's highly unlikely.  It's highly unlikely he'll even contest the adoption.  In a few weeks, we'll know for sure when his time runs out."
I didn't believe Shelley for a second.  She had to know of the Evan Scott case.  It had been local news and pertained to her area of legal practice.  What a liar!  

My hand was sore from clenching the phone.  My chest felt even tighter, and my heart was beating more rapidly than if I'd just run a race.

I did not trust our attorney.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

This childhood phrase came to mind, and led me to my next thought:

I want to fire our attorney.

But I didn't know if that was even possible.  She had claimed to represent us--not Kendra and not the baby.  And even though Lily was in our care, she had been legally relinquished to the attorney.  The attorney was, in fact, her legal guardian at the moment.  We had no legal claim to Lily.  And if I tried to hire a new attorney, what would happen to Lily then?

To Be Continued...



                        Evan Scott's case took years in court!

PAGE # 71
Evening till late at night!

I was on a research mission.  Armed with my computer and a tub of Christmas cookies, I spent hours on Google trying to find information on contested adoption cases.  I found the case of Evan Scott, and this particular adoption disaster seemed to heed a warning, especially as some of the initial circumstances surrounding the child's early relinquishment seemed to mirror our situation:

1)  Evan's biological mother was physically abused by the birthfather during the pregnancy.  According to reports, she was even hospitalized following the attack.  The biological father was arrested.

In our case, Kendra claimed to have been physically assaulted by bio-dad during pregnancy.  Bio-dad was still awaiting his day in court to face these charges.

2)  Evan Scott got placed with prospective adoptive parents immediately following his birth.  The bio dad contested the adoption, but the prospective adoptive parents pursued a legal battle and retained custody of Evan during the lengthy court proceedings.

In our case, bio-dad had not officially contested the adoption, but he had signed the putative father registry.  I imagined he would complete all necessary steps to contest the adoption altogether.  

3)  Reports indicate that Evan Scott was to return to his birthmother if the adoption got contested.  (Please note that some news reports claim that no such plan was ever made between the birthmother and the prospective adoptive parents).

In our case, we had the very same plan!  Kendra would take Lily back if bio-dad contested the adoption.

4)  In the Evan Scott case, it seems the prospective adoptive parents did not simply return Evan to his natural mother once the bio-dad contested the adoption (and he did so within his legal time frame).  The birthmother wanted her son returned, but the case went to court and took OVER THREE AND A HALF YEARS to be decided.  To watch video footage of Evan's return to his natural mother, click here.

In our case, I had every intention of returning Lily to Kendra if bio-dad contested the adoption.  That was the plan.  

5)  Evan Scott would not even remain with his bio-mother.  He would go on to get abused by his stepfather; in turn, Evan's biological father would finally get custody of him in the spring of 2006, when Evan reached the age of five!

In our case, there was NO WAY I would allow Baby Lily to suffer even the possibility of getting thrown around for years.  NO WAY.  If bio-dad contested the adoption, I would be sad, but I would return her to Kendra.  She had two older half-brothers waiting for her.

6)  The Evan Scott case occurred in our home state.  There was, in fact, recent legal precedent of a child getting returned to the natural family after YEARS of court proceedings.  I planned to ask Shelley about the Evan Scott case the following morning.  

To Be Continued...


For more information on the case of Evan Scott, please see the following links:

Click here

And here

Also here


# 70: "I AM THE DADDY!"

PAGE # 70
Approximately 5:30 pm

I was wrapping Christmas presents when Shelley called: 
"I don't have good news."
"Okay," I said and waited to hear it.
"The interloper has signed the putative father registry."
It took me a moment to decipher the attorney's words.
"The bio dad signed the registry?  Meaning he has legally documented that he believes he is the father of Lily?" I asked for clarification.
"So what does this mean?"
"Well, it means he's trying to mess things up for Kendra.  He doesn't want this baby--he's just trying to mess up her life!"
"But maybe he really does want his baby?"  
I could practically see Shelley scowl over the phone.  Her words sounded like they maneuvered through a tight grimace; moreover, Shelley's tone indicated disgust with me:
"Now.  Wait a minute.  There is no evidence that he actually wants his baby.  Why would he want this baby?  Why would he want to support a child--he's a young guy."
"Maybe he just wants his baby cause it's his baby?"
"Now hold on, Jennifer!  If he wanted his baby, he would've done everything he needed to do to stop the adoption from happening.  It's not that hard.  He needed to to do three things.  Signing the putative father registry is only one of the three steps."
Shelley was becoming more and more agitated with my line of questioning.  And I was paying $500 an hour for these phone sessions!  Still, I pressed on:
"Okay, Shelley.  Please remind me of the other two steps then."
"As I've already told you...he needed to give her money to demonstrate financial support during the pregnancy.  He hasn't given her a penny!  All he'd need to do is send her a check for a hundred bucks, but he's sent nothing!"
"What if he sent her money but Kendra never got it?  And doesn't she have a restraining order against him?  Is he even allowed to send her mail?"
"Jennifer!  It's not just the money!  He also needs to submit a signed affidavit attesting to his ability and intent to raise a child!  He has not done that!"
"Is it possible that he doesn't know what he needs to do?"
"He was served legal papers before Lily's birth!  Everything he needed to know was in those papers!"
I thought about legal paperwork.  It's often confusing and difficult to read.
"Please bear with me Shelley, but is it possible that he was unable to fully comprehend the paperwork?"
"Well, then he could have sought his own legal counsel."
"Maybe he doesn't have the money to hire an attorney?"
"Jennifer!  You are not the lawyer here.  Please, you need to relax and let me handle the lawyering.  There is no way that man is ever getting this baby!  No way!  It's the letter of the law!"

To Be Continued...    



PAGE # 69

I got up feeling refreshed after a pretty decent night's sleep.  Baby Lily woke for feedings after generous blocks of time--at least 4 hours--and Tom and I split the work 50/50.  She was the easiest baby we ever had.

I couldn't wait to write Kendra, but when I sat down at my computer that morning, I felt immobilized.  What was okay/not okay to write to Lily's birthmother? Ultimately, I followed the recommended adoption etiquette by adhering to the social worker's script for "chatting with your baby's birthmother."  At exactly 10:10 am, I sent this email to Kendra:

Baby Lily continues to do great!  She is an awesome eater and drinks her formula like a champion.  She is pretty sleepy much of the time--the pediatrician said to expect a lot more sleep with formula.  The Dr. was very pleased that she got the colostrum too.  Her color continues to look great--with her rosy and fair complexion, she totally blends in with all of us.  She is a great baby!
I hope your OBGYN appointment went well, and that your breast infection is getting better fast.  Did they start you on the antibiotics?
All the best,
Jennifer :)

I checked my email constantly until a response arrived from Kendra at 11:09 am.  Her note was upbeat and thankful, and she expressed only positive sentiments.  It was filled with all good news:

1)  Her breast infection was much improved.
2)  Her in-laws called to invite her along on their Christmas vacation.  She accepted and would be traveling in a few days.
3)  She expressed deep gratitude and thanks toward Tom and I (Shelley too) and was pleased with how everything had turned out, including that she remained connected to us.

My reaction to Kendra's letter was a happy one, but I was also surprised that Kendra would be traveling soon.  Johnny had planned to cancel the annual holiday with his parents; apparently, he had not.  Although the in-laws ended up inviting Kendra along (the original plan did not include Kendra and meant she would be spending Christmas alone without her husband, either of her two boys, or her just relinquished newborn), I considered this a defeat for Kendra.  In the hospital, before her husband had agreed to cancel the trip altogether, Kendra had shared that she didn't want to travel, even if she were to be invited along:
"His family is super fancy.  They go to restaurants where we have to get all dressed up.  I wouldn't be feeling up to that even if I were invited.  I'm exhausted.  I just don't want to be without my boys for Christmas."
Now, Kendra would be packing for a trip less than a week after giving birth!  With a breast infection on top of it all!  After giving away her baby!

I thought it was all too much.

But...the last two paragraphs of Kendra's email were reassuring and comforting.  I felt good after reading them.  Now, I wonder whether Kendra was getting any coaching from the attorney and/or social worker on her end.  Maybe someone had given her some instruction on "how to talk to your baby's prospective adoptive parents after relinquishment!" 

Or...perhaps Kendra was trying to please us, trying to remain a "good" birthmother lest we cut off all contact with her?

As the day progressed, I reread Kendra's email--to myself, to Tom, to my mother, to various friends.  Kendra's words rolled easily off my tongue:

"I hope everything continues to go well!"

Things would not.

To Be Continued...