"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cupcakes and Meatballs! Part 4

With the 30 day clock ticking, we just tried to enjoy checking out Philly a little. Cheesestakes were had, and we did go downtown to see a few sights. Mainly, our days were filled with transitioning Cupcake to big-sisterhood, trying to figure out why Meatball wouldn't sleep, and just finding things to do. We (stupidly) did not have a double stroller or a stroller at all that would accommodate a newborn, so when we went out it was either carry Meatball in her infant carseat or put her in the moby wrap, which she really didn't love. We went to the King of Prussia mall a few times, because it was nearby and there was an indoor play area (it was so cold outside already). We went to a nearby Target about 537 times to get numerous baby things. We were antsy to get out of the hotel. We had a suite, but it was still pretty cramped, and Meatball pretty much cried what seemed like, the entire time unless she was being held. There were frequent Meatball and Mommy car trips while daddy would try to wrestle Cupcake down for a nap. Even at a month old, Meatball would be up many hours of the night because she couldn't get comfy.  The very sweet adoption attorney in PA is married to a Dr. They got us in for an appointment at his practice. Meatball was immediately diagnosed with acid reflux. The Dr's comment when nobody could get her to stop crying in the exam room was that she could hear everything gurgling when she put the stethoscope on her. We got some meds, and they did help, but not a cure all. On day 10, we were granted ICPC clearance from PA. 

ICPC stands for the Interstate Compact Placement of Children. While we had the Power of Attorney over Meatball's care, she technically is not a minor child related to us. So, leaving the state of PA without clearance could mean that we would be charged with Human Trafficking or other Federal charges. Originally, we were told ICPC from PA would only take a few days, but our case was complicated with ICWA so everything needed to be double-checked that the Tribe had no standing to keep her from leaving. Philadelphia is on the opposite side of the state from where we would eventually exit. After about a week, we drove to the outskirts of Pittsburgh so that we would only be about 30 (?) minutes from the border once we received clearance. 

Before we left though, we got to spend time with Meatball's first family. I look forward to gathering with them again in the future. My favorite part of Meatball's entire story is that she has a first family that fought so hard for her. Both of her first parents were involved with her adoption plan and her care for her first 3 weeks of life. We had such a great time getting to know them better. They really feel like an extension of our family. It is here that I will mention that when I share Meatball's adoption story, people ask me if I am upset with her first mother for changing her mind. It was during our meeting on our 2nd trip to Philly that I realized that Cupcake also spent close to a month with her first mother, and we made 2 trips for her. In many ways, I understood completely why she made the choice that she did. She has since apologized numerous times for making us come back and changing her mind. These apologies are silly. It's her daughter. Of course it was hard. I'm glad that she didn't make the decision on the fly. I'm glad she spent time with her daughter. I'm so very glad that she loves Meatball. I'm not angry with her, I owe her a debt which I'll never be able to repay.

So, back in Pittsburgh, when we were granted ICPC from PA, the PA attorney and our home-state laywer were disagreeing on whether we could actually leave the borders before our home state gave us clearance to bring Meatball across their borders. The more research I've done, the more I believe that we should not have been allowed to leave PA, but the lawyers agreed that a case could be made for us leaving PA, as long as we didn't actually enter our home state until clearance was granted. We were so sick of hotels by day 10, and eating out that we were anxious to get as close to home as possible. So, we left. We made it about another 5 hours and decided to stop... if I recall, the decision was made because a vote was taken by the occupants of the backseat, and based on the decibel level, they were ready to get out of the car for a while (it was late at night). 

So, hotel night #11 promised to be our last because our home state attorney told us that he has never had an ICPC case take more than a day. We were so excited to snuggle in and then pack the car up one last time. We weren't in a rush the next morning so we did a long breakfast and some brief sight-seeing before we hit the road, hoping the clearance would come as we got close to the border. Obstacle #27 meant that we didn't get clearance in 'one-day,' so we ended up very crabby and checked into a hotel on the border of our state in a casino hotel. I'd like to apologize to those in the rooms next to us who were there to 'getaway' and have a good time and instead ended up next to the loud 2 year old and crying baby... I hope you were actually winning big in the casino late at night. 

After night #12 in a hotel, we were desperate for clearance to just go home. We ended up asking for a late check-out and trying (failing) to entertain ourselves until clearance came about 4pm. We sped home as fast as we could. Things were much happier and calm when we were in our own space, and Cupcake could easily entertain herself with all of her toys. K haeded back to work a few days later, and I tried to get an actual routine going with 2 little people in my charge. This also included buying Christmas goodies for our little Meatball, and praying that she was here to stay.

We spent Christmas out of town a few weeks later with family, and ended up in another hotel room, but it was much easier with my family around to help entertain. It was so fun to watch them meet Meatball and fall in love with her. Christmas was stressful because it brought with it, Cupcake not feeling very well again and passing a horrible cough onto Meatball. 

Final TPR or termination of parental rights should have come on December 28th, but ICWA did end up getting in the way. The PA attorney was being asked to petition for another court date so a judge could terminate the tribe's rights over Meatball's care. Not awesome. 

I ended up heading back to work after the new year, and we still weren't entirely sure how this whole ordeal was going to end. Another court date was granted, and while we and Meatball's first parents were told they were done after their first court date, their presence was again requested in front of the judge. They graciously went to court again, and 56 days after the clock started, we were definitely on the path to be able to finalize Meatball's adoption, which we will do on June 10th! HOORAY! or as Cupcake says, "WOO HOOS!"

Some photos... in NO particular order!


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