This is Part two of our experience with Family Adoption. Read part one here.
Once we got back to the states we met with a lawyer almost immediately. The lawyer felt we had a very good case against George to revoke his rights to the baby without much of a fight at all. George had moved out of state, had no contact over the two months of our stay, as well as providing nothing for the baby’s care or support, his name was not on the birth certificate, and he had previously had another child placed for adoption without contesting it. That was encouraging, but the lawyer was, frankly, very little help. He felt that my taking the baby back to Guam would be akin to kidnapping, even with her being a niece and having a power of attorney from my sister. He was convinced that we would have to do the entire adoption process from that state, a process which would literally span half a year or more.
I was very worried about staying stateside that long. My husband couldn’t stay stateside for more than two weeks so had already flown back to Guam. I was trying to do all the paperwork on my own, while also taking care of my three girls and living out of a bedroom in my parent’s house. After two months of background checks, home-study applications, interviews and more I finally called it quits.
After praying considerably about the entire situation, I decided that I was not going to listen to the lawyer’s advice any more. My sister readily signed the power of attorney and when the baby was 4 months old, we finally made it back to Guam. It had been a very long trip.
Once in Guam we sought out one of the few adoption lawyers in the territory. He told us there was absolutely no problem with having the adoption process be started and finished in Guam. Guam’s legal system is very family-adoption friendly, because of the strong culture of family relationships. It is very common for families to raise their nieces, nephews, or grandchildren.
It turns out that in Guam, the home study was free, the lawyer cost about a third of the price, and the process was much faster. The biggest issue was getting the father’s rights revoked. That involved us telling George that we were filing to adopt his daughter. We asked my sister for his address, since he had moved out of state, and the only address she had to give was a PO Box and George’s mother’s address.
In a legal adoption a process server has to physically give the paperwork to the person being served with the papers. Because George did not live at his mom’s house and his only other address was a P.O. Box, the process server wrote a letter stating that he was not able to find George.
Step two in this process was that we had to put a notice in the newspaper. After something like a two day run, if no one responded in objection to the ad, then we could proceed with taking George’s rights away. Obviously, he did not respond to the ad in the newspaper.
A court date was set and we nervously went off to meet with the judge. All the paperwork was in order and we confirmed that we were willing and able to provide for all of the baby’s needs for the rest of her childhood. The papers were signed and we were sent on our way, simple as that.
The shock in all of this was that somehow, somewhere along the way, I thought that we were simply going to court to have the baby legally placed with us so we would be considered her guardians. I thought that there would be a year of legal placement before the legal adoption occurred. So as we left the courtroom I turned and asked the lawyer what the next step was. He looked at me strangely and told me it was all done.
Really? Really Really? It actually took quite a few minutes to let that actually sink in. Finally when we were back in the parking lot it all clicked enough that we stopped and took a picture. If I had understood that this placement was the actual real adoption, we would have made it a lot more of a party! We would have had lots of pictures and even invited guests. But I’m glad I at least have the one picture of us- slightly in shock, but really happy.
Having the adoption legal and done with was a huge relief for everyone involved. My sister felt like she could finally move on. She had been concerned that the birth father would put up a fight because of his prior daydreams of a perfect family.
From beginning to end, the adoption took one year. During the entire pregnancy and the year following we never ceased to pray to know what the best thing to do was and we felt we received numerous confirmations that this little baby was supposed to be in our family.