Even though we had two previous home studies performed with the adoption of our three boys, I had never requested a copy of the final report. I decided to ask for one with Ava’s home study. Here is a small excerpt written by our social worker:
"Status of Placement:
The Henries reported to me that the birth father completed the relinquishment of his parental rights on May 21, 2004 before a Notary Public to accomplish this termination. A copy of his relinquishment is included in the adoptive file. The birth mother relinquished her rights on May 27, 2004. She had an attorney help her do this.
The Henries were relieved to know that both the birth father and mother have stepped forward to do this. The Henries have not put any pressure on the birth parents to make their decision. In fact, the Henries have been very open with both birth parents regarding Ava being placed in their home and have reported how she is developing.
Adjustment of Children in the Home:
By reports from both Mr. and Mrs. Henrie they have not experienced any problems with Ava being placed in their home. Actually, the placement has gone exceptionally well for both the parents and the children. The Henries further report that the three boys, Bryan, Cole and Preston 'simply adore' their little sister. They spend much of their waking hours playing with her and ensure she is taken care of the best way they know how. Of course this is under the guidance of the parents.
When I visited the family today they were having a picnic in their back yard with some neighbors. The children were all playing with each other and their friends. Ava was actively involved with others. She is now walking on her own and has been since the first part of June. I observed all of the children interacting with each other for a good part of an hour. During this time I saw how well they played together and how the boys would attend to their sister on many occasions. Ava even began to interact with me by bringing a toy or food item to share with me. I believe this indicates how comfortable she feels and the trust she has with someone else besides family members.
Therefore, it is my recommendation that the placement of Ava continue as she now feels this is her home. The bonding between all family members with Ava is very strong. Mr. and Mrs. Henrie see Ava as though she is their own biological child. This adoption worker would further recommend that there is no better home for Ava than where she is currently placed."
This is just a small excerpt as the entire "Post-Placement Adoption Report" is over 30 pages long.
Ava’s adoption was finalized on August 17, 2004, when she was a year and a half old. We went in front of a female judge this time and the experience was quite different. We were the only ones in the courtroom besides the judge, the bailiff and our attorney. While our attorney addressed the judge I was trying desperately to keep the boys quiet. They wanted to keep bouncing up and down on fold-away seats. I don’t know why I stressed so much about keeping them quiet. I guess in the back of my head I was thinking “the judge is probably going to wonder about my parenting abilities to take care of this little girl if I can’t take care of my other children!”
The entire procedure probably took about 15-20 minutes. After we signed the paperwork stating that Ava “shall be regarded and treated in all respects as their natural and lawful child,” Cole wanted to run up and give the judge a hug and tell her “thank you" (I did too). The bailiff reacted quickly to a little boy running up to the front of the courtroom and tried to stop him, but then I explained what he wanted to do. The judge was very gracious about letting my other children hug her and tell her “thank you for allowing their little sister to be a part of our family.” The boys were so excited when we were finished and the paperwork was signed; they knew that Ava couldn’t be taken away from us now!
It is weird how things can change with the signing of the adoption decree. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had been so worried about my little Ava having to leave our family and now I knew that “legally” she was my little girl. I couldn't stop smiling and hugging and kissing her soft little cheeks!
When people ask me about my children and I try to tell them a little bit of the story, there is always one inevitable question? Why did their mother keep having children?
Ruth and Ava
That answer to that question is not my story to tell. Throughout the telling of “Our Story” on my blog, I have to leave out many details and background of the people involved. There are many other sequences of events that were going on behind the scenes that I am not at liberty to divulge. These “details” may give readers more insight as to why Ruth relinquished her children, but that is her narrative, not mine.
I cannot fault Ruth for wanting to have more children. I am so glad she did, I could never thank her enough for allowing me the opportunity to be a mother and to raise these wonderful children. I have nothing but love and respect for her and the hard choices she has had to make in her life. I love being a mother and I know that it has only been through Ruth that I have been given this chance. Thank you is not enough!