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Another milestone reached and I'm grateful for the reminder

One of the hardest things about adopting, at least for me, was the visitation process.  I understand why it exists, especially with older kids. Everyone needs to time to adjust to the idea that they're about to become a family. But dropping The Kid off at her foster family's house after a visit was always a heart-wrenching experience for me.

Today marks one year since the day The Kid went home with us to stay.

365 days ago, we transitioned into a phase where we given the power of attorney to a child of the State of Michigan. We literally had papers we needed to carry with us everywhere to prove we could sign for her care.

It sounds so cold when I think of it in those terms, which is in stark contrast to the memories I have of that season. We picked her up that night from her foster family, tears were shed all the way around because it was a big transition for all of us. The next day Gladys came down with the flu, I battled a sinus infection and The Kid felt fine.

I remember feeling horrible physically, but being so excited because we were starting the next phase of our relationship with The Kid. I was also a little scared, partially because I was becoming Papa and that is a huge responsibility. But I was also scared because we had no rights when it came to The Kid during the next six months.

Our social worker came to visit every week for the first month, then every other week for the next few months and we wound down to once a month as our adoption date drew near. We were nervous for each one of those visits because everything could end on that visit. If one thing was out of line, we could lose the little girl we had fallen deeply, hopelessly in love with and have no legal recourse to get her back.

We were her parents in body, mind and soul. We were fully financially responsible for her. But when we wanted to take The Kid to Florida to meet Gladys' family, we had to ask permission to take our daughter with us. And each day we drew closer to our adoption day, our hearts became more attached and our fear that one miscue could delay or scuttle the legal recognition of our family weighed a little more heavily on our minds.

Obviously, our adoption was finalized and we are now happily a family. And I think that haunting feeling that our family could disappear from me so quickly helped me. Not a day goes by where I don't stop and watch my daughter, pausing to remember how grateful I am for my loving little family. I take that time because I know it could all be gone in a moment, and I am grateful I was given that reminder early in my adventures in fatherhood.

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