15 September, 2011

Background Story -- Adoption Journey

I've sat down and written this blog post before. I have gone over and over word choices, length, etc, etc, in my head. I've thought a lot about it because of the position that I'm in. And I'll get into the secret, and why I had to keep it a secret shortly, but real quick, a little bit of a back story...

Firstly, for those of you who don't know me personally, my husband is not Reilly's biological dad. I got pregnant with Reilly in 2005. It was a big surprise, as I was planning on getting back on birth control and not even bothering with the trying to make a baby for awhile. I was fine with that. But, turns out I was pregnant. No biggie. Pregnancy was easy enough. No complications. I ended up with a happy, healthy little girl born in March of 2006.

My relationship with her dad wasn't the greatest...we had our good times, but over all, it wasn't that great. I actually think it was pretty doomed from the start, but whatever...it was what it was. When I met my now husband in 2007, things just clicked. I was still "together" with Reilly's dad, but we were just going through the motions of life...at least I was. I had mentally "checked out" of the relationship and was pretty much sticking around just for the benefit of the kids (Reilly and her half siblings) so when I met my husband and we just clicked, I was outta there. I took Reilly and moved back in my parents and I started a relationship with my husband. Less than two months later, we were married and moving into our own little place for us to start a family.

Reilly and Brad took to each other like white on rice. They adored each other like crazy and it was like all the little pieces of the puzzle fit together. Reilly was happy and thriving and had someone who showed he cared about her in her life. Brad did things for Reilly that he didn't have to do, but did anyway. For instance, he added her to his health and dental insurance. And though that doesn't sound like a big deal, it really is....before, she was on the state health insurance and that was it.

Since I left her biological dad, things have gone down hill with their relationship. For awhile, she was seeing him on a regular basis and even spending the night there a couple times. But that didn't last very long...soon, other things became much too "important"....instead of spending time with his ever growing daughter, who was learning new things every day, he was out drinking with his friends and doing this or that. So Reilly spent the majority of her time with Brad and I, or "daddy" as she called him by then....which was fine with us. We went and did all the fun stuff that families did and enjoyed each others company. And Reilly and Brad had more and more time to bond.

So ever since the beginning of 2008, Reilly hasn't really had a relationship with her biological dad. After a couple months of being married, she stopped staying the night over there...then she stopped visiting every other weekend. Then it went to once a month...then MAYBE once a month. Then every couple months...there was one point in time where her bio-dad didn't actually SEE her for four months. That was made worse by the fact that in late 2009 he was in a accident that left him in a wheel chair. He was in the hospital for quite some time up in Seattle and while I brought her up there, it wasn't something I could do on a regular basis. When he got out of the hospital back home, I was certain that things were going to be different.  I thought deep down that a near death experience would make him appreciate all that he had, including his three kids. I thought he was going to ask to see her more often so he could spend more time with her and get to know her a little bit better. He didn't know how smart she was...he best knew the 1 1/2 - 2  year old Reilly...not the 3 year old Reilly...and certainly not the 4 year old Reilly. He had no idea who she was as a person....what she liked or didn't like...what her favorite songs or movies were, or her favorite books. That didn't happen.

So then, we moved to Hawaii. Which we all knew would be a little more difficult....there's a two-three hour time difference, depending on the time of the year, thousands of miles -- which means we couldn't go back to visit whenever we wanted...our schedules changing...a new baby, Reilly starting school...there were so many things happening. I knew that it wouldn't be the same, but I thought that with at least that much space between Reilly and her biological dad, he would at least make the effort to talk to his daughter every couple of weeks or once a month.

Unfortunately, I was sadly mistaken. We moved to Hawaii in July 2010. I can count the number of times Reilly has physically talked to her biological dad on one hand. I can count the number of correspondences total in less than two. In a year. Would you like to know when the last time Reilly sat in front of a computer and Skyped with her biological dad was? December 15, 2010. Yes, you are doing your math right.  It's been over 9 months since she said a word to him. Her birthday was the last time any contact was made at all (a birthday card was sent...no birthday phone call, nothing) which was at the end of March...which was 5 months ago. For comparisons sake...would you like to know the last time she talked to her Grandma on the phone? Yesterday. The last time they talked via webcam? A couple weeks ago. My mom has made two trips out here to see her...and while I know that isn't exactly possible for her dad, my mom also sends Reilly and Ophelia care packages on a pretty frequent basis. Brad's mom has also made a trip out here to visit, all the way from Ohio. Do we talk on the phone as often? No, but there's also a 6 hour time difference and Brad's mom and dad work all week. Reilly stills gets a chance to talk to them whenever she can.

Could you please tell me that you could go 5 months without even sending a card to your kid? Could you really go 8 months without telling your child "I love you"...or even a simple "hello"??

I've never asked for a penny from Reilly's biological dad. Brad and I have footed the bill for everything for her...new toys, new clothes, food, a place to live. We take her to the movies and the park and zoo. Just recently, we went school supplies shopping and we paid for her to ride the bus (which yes, it costs money here in Hawaii for her to ride the bus less than 5 miles a day.) We take care of her health and dental needs. I never asked for any money because: 1) I knew I wouldn't get it. 2) I didn't want to go to court to TRY to get it. 3) We didn't need it. Sure...more money always helps, but we weren't and aren't struggling to provide for our family. After his accident, Social Security was set up for Reilly because according to the state, she is entitled to it. And what exactly does the state deem her entitled to? $33 a month. Wanna know what THAT buys in Hawaii? Not much, let me tell you that. So every once in awhile we'll take the money out and spend it on this or that for Reilly, usually a new toy or a special treat for her...but that isn't going to cover a dental bill. That wouldn't even cover half of what it costs for her to ride the school bus for ONE quarter.

It's all very tiring for me as a mother. Reilly used to ask me questions about "when will my dad Brett talk to me"....but those questions have long since faded...I haven't heard her mention her biological dad in months. When she comes home from school, she wants to share her news with me and her daddy. Sometimes her Grandma and Grandpa or Nannie and Opa. Sometimes her Auntie Brooke and Uncle Steve. But never her dad Brett. I don't blame her. I wouldn't want to talk to someone who didn't want to talk to me either.

Reilly has told me many things over the months and years that would lead you to believe that even she doesn't consider her "dad Brett" her real dad. Firstly, she calls him "dad Brett"....not dad, not daddy, but "dad Brett". She's said this to me before: "my dad Brett is just pretending to be my dad". She also says that her daddy (Brad) helped make her like he helped make Ophelia. If that doesn't speak volumes as to how she feels about her dad Brett and her daddy, I don't know what does.

The reason I take the time to write all of this down is because of the super secret news. A couple months back, Brad and I hired a lawyer to petition the courts to allow Brad to legally adopt Reilly.  We had been keeping it a secret because Reilly's biological dad was a friend of mine on Facebook, as was his mom (Reilly's grandma) and I didn't want the information to leak out prematurely. However, as of August 16th, we had an official court date with the state of Hawaii and as of August 30th, Reilly's bio-dad was served with the same paperwork informing him of the court date. He has the choice to hire a lawyer, fly to Hawaii himself or call in during the hearing and testifying by phone.

Court will be held in Hawaii in the beginning of October. I am excited about this. Everything works out in our favor and we only have to hope that the judge feels the same way.

I know a lot of people probably have tons of questions...like "why didn't you force him to talk to her?" That's not my job. I can't FORCE someone to have a relationship with their child. I'm not in the business of making someone take responsibility for their children....I am in the business of being responsible for my kids and my family. And I am. I take care of Reilly, Ophelia and the little bebe. I take care of my house, cook everyone dinner, go grocery shopping, etc. Brad takes care of Reilly, Ophelia and me. He goes to work every day and brings home a paycheck. We take responsibility for ourselves and our kids. Reilly's biological dad just doesn't see the need to do that.

Some people might think I'm being mean...and that's okay. That's part of why I wrote out this novel of a blog post...so that I could put into words how the relationship between Reilly and her biological dad has been over the past five and a half years....so that people can see and try to understand why I am doing this.

I am basically just trying to do what is best for my kid. I am trying to give Reilly a stable household, with a real dad who cares about her. If Brad was allowed to adopt Reilly, what would change? Well, she would have his last name instead of Brett's for one. The way that the adoption would work is that it would be considered a "closed" adoption...he would not be able to have contact with Reilly until she was 18...a legal adult...and wanted to have contact with him. He would not get any information from me or Brad...pictures, emails, letters, etc about her. When we visit Washington, he would not be able to see her. This would also go for his mother and other family members (not like they give a shit anyway...99% of them have never even met Reilly). Of course, Brad and I would be open and honest with Reilly about everything...we would never blatantly lie to her. But I doubt we'll offer up the information without her wanting to know. She's a smart girl and she can tell when someone doesn't want to talk to her or be in her life.

I do feel lucky that while she is 5 and a smart girl, that's she's been so young through most of this. She hasn't really had to deal with her biological dad not talking to her. She doesn't ask questions anymore. She's kind of oblivious to the entire thing.

So there's that. I'll be trying to keep everyone updated as court goes along...I'm hoping it's short and sweet and not a hassle...

Oh. As an added fun time bonus. Reilly's biological dad and his mother both deleted me as their Facebook friend shortly after he was served with the court documents. So much for staying in contact for the kid huh? I wouldn't have had either of them on my friends list had it not been for Reilly, but chose to keep them around in case they wanted to easily get a hold of me.

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