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Spear's Adoption Finalization - Team Parker is COMPLETE!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Since the day Mama E signed over her parental rights (On December 3rd!) we've been in the post placement phase of Spear's adoption. You can read what this stage of the process is all about in this post here!

Even though Spear has been ours from the start, finalization truly completes the adoption process. It's when all the legal paperwork is cleared and Spear officially becomes a Parker! A judge grants the adoption as final and a new birth certificate is issued for him listing Zach and I as his parents and then he's able to also receive a social security number. All basically just technical legal things, but still a big moment for our family and one we've been looking very forward to for a LONG time! 

We knew finalization typically takes place roughly 6 months after birth so we haven't been stressing it or anything. We finished up everything needed from our end (which was just two post placement visits from our social worker) and were just waiting to hear from our lawyer. 

I received an email letting me know the judge in Jacksonville (where Spear was born) had an open time slot on Monday May 14th. It was very last minute but actually worked out perfect for us all as Zach was leaving that day for a work trip and would be available that morning and our CPA's office was free for us to be able to have the conference call with the judge and lawyer there. 

Finalization procedures vary from state to state, and even judge to judge. While I'm thankful we were able to just do a conference call...it would have been so awesome to go to a courthouse and do it in person ;) 




Adoption has been so many steps out in faith. I was so eager for the waiting phase of the journey to finally come to an end. While it's a path we'll always continue to walk, and there will always be moments that pull at our hearts and test our faith, finalization marked the END of the biggest wait of our lives!


Sweet text from Mrs. Charlotte / G-Mama


Tess didn't have school since it was a Monday and Zach checked Kye and Britt out from school so they could be there for the big moment! Even though I knew it'd be a quick phone call, I still really felt it was important for us ALL to be together as a FAMILY. The kids weren't able to meet Spear right after his birth (we waited until parental rights were signed) so being there for the moment when he officially joined our family forever was very meaningful to us as their parents. 

They were excited about the coloring ;) 


Even though they may not fully understand the depth of this process, they have walked each step together with us and were all excited to be part of this moment and share in that joy together. I love that adoption is such a FAMILY thing. It hasn't just stretched mine and Zach's faiths but our kids too and I know their lives are impacted for the better after having been through this journey with us. 


Sweet picture for Spear :) 


Spear's nap is from 9-11 and he eats at 11 so I knew the 10:45 phone call time would be a tad tricky for him because he'd be awake early from nap and therefore probably pretty hungry too! He really did GREAT though and I think it was cute that the judge and our lawyer could hear him babbling over the phone :) 




Our Family. Complete. Whole. Beyond Blessed. 



While I don't wish any days away with my babies, I will say having Kye be a bit older throughout our adoption journey has been such a blessing. He's old enough to "get it" on a level that the girls just can't fully understand and he's been right there praying so hard through it all! He has been SO thrilled at each stage when good news has come our way and excited to finish the journey as well!


Sweet flowers and note from Mrs Charlotte


He was worth it all. Worth every moment of doubt. Worth every "no." Every wait. Every awkward conversation. Each uncomfortable moment. Worth every prayer. Every tear. Everything. All of it. He's worth it ALL and we're so blessed to call him OURS. 



Leaving the finalization meeting I felt SO light. I didn't realize I was carrying a weight of worry or concern around with me until it was DONE and then I just felt this relief. Whew. It's been a LONG process yall. And even during the last several months of having Spear at home with us, I've still had those natural concerns that come with things not being legally official. 

We've all heard stories of babies being "taken back" and even though I knew the law wouldn't allow that and knew Mama E wouldn't take that sort of route...it's still just such a nice feeling to know that it's all legal and finished and that there are no concerns at all moving forward in any way! In the law's eyes Spear is ours in all the same ways that our biological children are ours. And that's HUGE as a mama to lay my head down at night and just have that PEACE. 

It's an incredible feeling to know our family is complete. Spear is that missing piece and he's everything we could have ever wished for or dreamed of. I have four beautiful, amazing, wonderful children and I just couldn't be more happy to be their mom. 

I can't remember a time in recent history where I just felt such PURE JOY. I couldn't STOP smiling and was just so, so excited and happy! I really didn't think the finalization would be all that big of a deal because I already am Spear's mama and have been since his birth but the meaning behind the meeting and all it symbolizes just was much more emotional than I'd anticipated! 



Families handle adoption in their own, unique ways. Throughout our journey I've tried to keep everything regarding Spear's addition into our family as much the same as when the other children entered our family. We announced our plans to adopt much like we would have announced our pregnancy. We had a baby shower and decorated the nursery while we waited for him, just like we would if I was pregnant. It's important to me for Spear to look back and see that he's been just as important to us, just as much ours, and that we were just as excited about him joining our family as we were with each of our biological children (and, let's be real, in many ways his process was more exciting and we appreciate his joining our family in an even bigger way). 

When it came to his finalization I knew from the start that I wanted to celebrate. It wasn't so much a celebration of Spear being officially a Parker...but more a chance to celebrate the end of this journey and to be able to truly thank those who have walked this path along with us. To let them know how appreciated they are and just to breathe that HUGE sigh of RELIEF that it's DONE!

We kept the invite list small and really tried to invite those who have been instrumental in our journey. Zach was out of town the day of finalization so we had the get together later that week. We kept it really casual (hard for me to do because yall know my love of a good theme!) and invited everyone to come over at 6ish to eat and visit and planned to get Spear up a bit early from his evening nap to visit with everyone too! 

When I was in the process of putting the gathering together it made me think a lot about how we SHOULD celebrate the "little things" more often and how much fun it is to host get togethers and how much I truly enjoy it. I'm sure some people may roll their eyes at having a get together in honor of some legal documents being signed, but I loved doing it and it made me want to celebrate more things! All the things! Life is great, God is good, we have abundant blessings...so many things we should be focusing on and celebrating with those we love!

When we announced our plans to adopt we decided to do a football theme (naturally!) and I had "jerseys" made for our family to wear in our announcement. I intentionally bought the baby jersey in a size 6 months and got all of the kids shirts in larger sizes than they were wearing at the time because I knew the adoption process would be long and I knew that adoption is usually finalized when the baby is 6 months old. Oh how I had plans for those jerseys even way back in June of 2016 ;)  

I wanted to bring the football theme full circle now that our team is complete and bought some cute football details and focused the food on being "tailgate" type items!


Every good celebration has cupcakes :) 




If you know my parties then you know I go overboard on food. We were eating these leftovers for a solid week haha!





Meatballs (easiest recipe EVER: frozen meatballs, container of bbq, container of jelly...crock pot on low for several hours: DONE and DELICIOUS!)


Crock pot spinach and artichoke dip


Crock Pot (notice a theme? I like EASY ha!) Chicken Buffalo Dip


Cheeseburger Sliders


Cheese and Cracker Tray


These pretzels were SO good (cover with coconut oil, sugar and cinnamon and then bake!)




Went easy with the drinks too! 


Had to have some gatorade as all football players love some sports drinks ;) 


Zach happened to see this 2 liter...how perfect!!!


I've hosted quite a few get togethers. Birthday parties, baby showers, random girl's nights events. But I have to say none have quite lived up to the vibe of this night. First of all, every single person we invited (aside from Mema) came. Which NEVER happens. It was last minute. It was a Thursday night. A school night. A busy time of the year. Yet all these people? Our people? They did whatever re-arranging I'm sure they had to do in order to be there. That alone meant THE WORLD to us.

Everyone just had so much JOY for our family. True joy. Not fake smiles or false happiness. You could see the joy. You could feel the love. Everyone came together to celebrate and it was a true celebration. 

The path of adoption hasn't been easy. There have been many bumps in the road, including relationships regarding Spear. It wasn't something that everyone jumped on board with right away. Many have admitted it was hard for them to understand. Accept. Even "approve" of. But this night? It really showed the growth and acceptance and understanding and love. Adoption is a journey. Not just for the child or the adoptive parents but for ALL involved. This journey didn't just come full circle for us, but for everyone we love as well.

Even though finalization is a legal thing...I think it's a God thing too. God knows that adoption isn't "natural." It's not what HE designed for families.  It's something beautiful that comes from brokenness. God knows that it's not something everyone can accept easily and it takes time and patience for some people to be able to fully allow adoption to be in their hearts. Having these 5-6 months of time with Spear as part of our family has really allowed those who may not have fully understood or "approved" of our decision to adopt to get to know SPEAR and get to see him as OURS and accept him as THEIRS too. 

Zach and I both ended the night feeling such joy in our hearts. The love was all around us and, most importantly, around Spear and we could tell it was all so genuine and that any doubts or hesitations have truly been washed away. It was such a perfect night and one that will always bring tears of happiness to my eyes when I reflect back on it :) I couldn't be more thankful for each and every person who has supported us each step of the way and who came that night to show that support one last time as we completed this long process!






Spear was the star of the show and it was so sweet how everyone truly wanted a turn to get to love on him and get photos with him! He's so loved and we're so blessed to have him as the final member of our Team Parker Roster!

With Big Daddy



Little Mama




Big Papa


And G-Mama



Aunt Courtney


Aunt Casey 
(Spear was ALL about some Aunt Casey kisses!)



Robyn



And Matt


Cooper even had a turn!


Auntie Katie



Tiffany


Lindsay and I have both walked paths of faith that have lead us to our baby boys!

Love that Wake and Spear will be good buddies like their mamas!


I couldn't have made it through without my tribe. When moments of doubt would come, they'd all be there to lift me up and remind me of my purpose and mission and that it'd all be worth it! 

Robyn told me over and over "the faith is in the wait" and boy was she right!


Real life moment ;) I love that Lindsay snapped this haha


TEAM PARKER





Our Final Roster Member

We are abundantly blessed beyond measure


I wish there was some way to get a virtual photo of all the people out there in the "online world" who have also walked this journey along with us. I have often said to Zach that there are many times I've felt SO much support from my online community. It may be a "virtual world" but it's REAL. The connections we all share are TRUE. And the support y'all have shown our family has been such a huge gift in our lives. 

Your prayers have been felt. Your kind words have been a savior in moments of weakness. Your encouragement, personal experiences, even questions that remind me how invested others are in our family have meant THE WORLD. I know so many of you have shared in our joy and for that I'm forever grateful. This photo should include many, many more people and know that each of you are loved and appreciated so much. 

While adoption can feel lonely at times, I've never felt alone and I've never doubted the support we've had behind us. Thank you for loving us and we love you! Thank you. Thank you!



We zero percent expected any sort of gift or anything from anyone. We truly intended this get together to be a sort of "thank you" to everyone who's walked this path with us and to be a celebration of the end of the adoption journey. All the sweet cards and thoughtful gifts were such a surprise and just yet another reminder of how invested our friends and family are in this journey right along with us and that they were truly celebrating too! 

Have I mentioned how blessed we are?!?! :) Because we are!


Robyn's crew also brought balloons (which still a month later are in Britt's room going strong ha!)


From Auntie Katie! 


And from Tiffany's crew! 


Sweet words :) 




I'm def still learning all this video / YouTube stuff but I did want to put together a video showing our entire adoption journey from start to finish :) It was SO fun putting it together and got me SUPER emotional. I mean I knew it'd been a long journey, duh I felt how long the waiting was, but man you don't really realize HOW LONG until you see it all put together. Seeing how TINY Tess was when we started this process really hit me that DANG it's been over TWO YEARS!!!  

I know so many of y'all have been with us from the start so I hope you enjoy this video and for those of you who haven't...I encourage you to visit my adoption page here as I have covered each and every step of our adoption process in detail (lots of detail haha)! 




While I'm so thankful for this journey to come to an end, adoption will always be part of our story. We will never stop being beyond grateful for Mama E and the incredibly selfless sacrifice she made for her precious baby boy and the gift she gave to our family. We will always love her. Always have so much respect for her and appreciation for her. She is our family too. As are her other babies as well! Our family has been beyond blessed with Spear and never for a second does our family being complete somehow mean that his biological family matters any less. We will be forever thankful and he will always know how his story began and will be raised, just as our other children are being raised, to have that same love and respect and honor for his biological family. 

If God has put adoption on your heart, don't ignore it. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's long. Yes, it will crush you in ways you never imagined. But it's also beautiful. And so rewarding. And fulfilling. And amazing. Our faith has grown by leaps and bounds and I'm a better person today than I was two years ago when we just started this journey. Don't be afraid to take that step out in faith! And don't hesitate to reach out anytime with any questions you may have. We'd be honored to help others on their paths the way so many have helped us. 



2 comments :

  1. All I can say is PRAISE THE LORD!!! I am so glad all the legalization is behind you now and that long awaited sigh can be exhaled. Speak is a blessed little boy to have become a Parker. I am happy I have come to know the Parker family via the internet and through Emily's blog. I have learned so much from this journey you have been on. I lean more on my faith today watching your family step out in yours. I am thankful to be a part of such a God centered loving family and be able to watch the children grow and one of these days I am going to make it to Valdosta to meet all of you!!! I talk about each of you as if we have already met and are lifelong friends. BTW, Spear is favoring Zach and Kye more each day, so it is true what they say, the longer you love with someone the more you begin to look like them. Again Congrats on another phase of Stepping OUt in FAith completed and God's blessings on all those to come. Love, hugs, and smiles, GiGi

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  2. Sorry for the typos and especially Spear's name. You know what I meant anyhow....big smiles :)

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