A while back I wrote on Facebook about how Bella's adoption was almost done and we only had a few steps left assuming everyone I knew that Doug and I started dating when Bella was 9 months old. I got so many phone calls (mostly from my friends in Texas), messages, and after people came up and said "I had no idea Bella was adopted!" Some people even thought I was the one adopting Bella and that she was Doug's biological daughter. Doug an I thought that was funny :)
So I thought I'd clear the air and explain a bit and also share our amazing news!
Now looking back especially in our Texas ward I can clearly see why so many people didn't realize that our family started with Bella and I and that we added Doug later. Its because Doug is an amazing father, he does EVERYTHING for Bella. He usually gets her breakfast, he fixes her owies, he gives her blessings, he provides for her spiritually and financially and he loves her with all his heart. Bella loves her daddy. If you ask her who she wants to marry she says "my daddy!" When he gets home from work she tells him everything about her day and literally chats his ear off and that's her way of showing him she missed him that day. They go on father daughter dates often and Bella knows she is a princess and deserves the world because Doug has taught her that. I could go on and on about their amazing relationship.
Anyway Doug and I started dating after Bella was born. The short time we dated Doug and I really got to know each other. We started our relationship very honest. Never having any secrets and because if that I was able to tell Doug what I expected put of him when it came to Bella and that was to be there 110%. Truth be told I didn't have to tell Doug because being the awesome guy he is he would have anyway. He knew we were a packaged deal :)
Doug never complained about changing diapers, waking up in the middle if the night when Bella was sick, or any other sacrifices that came with jumping into parenthood. And he really jumped since we moved to Texas a week after we got married and the only people we knew were each other. But really after we got married I expected there to be an almost awkward stage with learning to co parent with Doug but we just fit. Being a family felt natural. Bella loved him right away and Doug was such a natural when it came to being a dad. I know we were meant to be together.
Doug and I looked into having him adopt Bella almost right away but JAG (army lawyers) said you had to be married for at least 2 years and Texas law to have him adopt her said she had to be 2 years old (she was 18 months) and she turned two 2 weeks after Doug deployed to Iraq. So we obviously had to wait at least a year and a half.
Right after our two year anniversary we made Bella's adoption our #1 priority. I remember being so nervous and excited for our first meeting with our attorney and it was so overwhelming and our most difficult one in my opinion. It was 2 hours long, I had to tell our lawyer everything about Bella's birth dad which felt a little awkward to me and she drew up paper work for us to send him to get his rights terminated. She also highly suggested that I'd call and let him know ahead of time. I hadn't talked to him in almost three years and we obviously didn't end things in the best way. Doug and I talked about it the rest of the day on whether or not we should call him or not and we decided that we should listen to our lawyers advice. Bella's birth dad was young. He wasn't ready to be a father and he didn't have a great example how parents should Act. We were both young, immature and had terrible communication. We were mean to each other and I resented him for not loving Bella like I thought he should. With that being said I was surprised with the guilt I felt. 3 years later I know I wasn't perfect and I can't imagine someone asking me to terminate my parental rights. 3 years later I saw him as heavenly fathers son. 3 years later I no longer hated him because I learned threw an amazing counselor of mine Virginia that I needed to pray for him. 3 years later and I just wanted to move on with my life. I called him to tell him and I told him that my husband Doug wanted to adopt Bella and we were sending him papers to terminate his rights. I told him I wasn't calling him out of spite and that I was honestly sorry for any grief I caused him. He said this wasn't what he expected, asked if he could call me back. I told him to take his time because I knew this wasn't easy and to call me if he had any questions.
I didn't hear back from him and that made Doug and I very nervous. We knew we did what we could and prayed for the best. Luckily a week later we got the papers in the mail! We couldn't believe it! Doug and I both cried. This was the hardest step and we both knew it. This was the only step we couldn't control and it was such a relief getting them in the mail. We set up our next appointment with our lawyer the next day. Our appointments after that was our lawyer typing up paper work and Doug and I taking it to the court house to get filed, more paper work, background checks, and a home study.
The home study made me pretty nervous too! Someone was coming to our house, talking to our crazy 4 year old and asking her what kind of parents we were. Looking around and literally judging if we are fit to be her parents. Well mostly Doug but I still felt nervous. I cleaned our house like never before, I organized Bella's toys, I made sure to pick out the perfect scentsy (because that's so important lol), I made sure to pick all our outfits, our medicine was out of reach, our computer and TV chords were safely tucked away, our dogs vaccine records were up to date. What can I say I was nervous. In the end none of that mattered. Our social worked stayed in our kitchen, asked us simple questions, looked at Bella's room and that was it. She didn't even look at my shiny bathrooms or neatly folded towels lol. After our home study Doug and I were in the home stretch!
The scary part is that we started this process at the end if October, our home study was at the end of June and we were suppose to move to Idaho in August. We basically had one month to fit in our last meeting with our attorney and get in for our final hearing in court. We had no idea how the court schedule was or how busy they normally were so Doug and I were nervous! Especially since the JAG office is usually super busy and we would normally have to wait 2 weeks to see our lawyer after we made an appointment. Our home study was on a Friday and we had to wait till the next Monday to even try to set up an appointment. Doug and I asked everyone to fast for us that Sunday, Doug fasted and I fasted with my phone and Ipad lol. I know it sounds super ridiculous but I was/am pregnant and going a day without my phone was the biggest sacrifice I could think of for myself (I know pathetic.) and I wanted in. Our fast and prayers worked though because the first time ever we were able to get an appointment with our attorney that same week! She drew up our paper work and we were able to set up our appointment with the court for our final hearing 2 weeks before we were suppose too be to Idaho! Doug and I were ecstatic'!
The day of our court hearing came. We tried explaining it the best we could to Bella, we got her a pretty dress, and told her it was hers and daddy's special day because he was going to adopt her! Doug insisted on leaving an hour before our appointment to make sure we got there on time. We ended up getting there 45 min early but I didn't even tease him (until later) because I could tell he just wanted everything to go right.
Waiting in the court room for the judge, how precious and perfect is this!?
Our turn in front of the judge came. We have him our paper work and the judge asked us some questions and then he told us we were missing one paper. I think Doug almost cried, and I was freaking out inside. Luckily the judge said "I want to do this for you guys so if you get back here before 5 ill do this for you. Just walk back into my court." It was 1:30 and we thought there was no way our lawyer would see us because like I said it usually took us 2 weeks to get in but we drove to her anyway. We actually caught her minutes before she was suppose to leave and she apologized a million times and finished up that one paper we were missing. She had her boss look it over to make sure she didn't miss anything again and then we were off again to the court house! The judge finalized our adoption and that was it! We were legally the family we have been in our hearts for so long! Doug was on cloud 9 and Bella was feeding off our joy! She is only 4 so I know that even though we try to explain to her she doesn't really understand yet. But I know one day she will. She will understand that her father chose to love her and to take care of her. She will know that Doug never had to provide for her but always wanted to. Right now she knows that "she had a first dad and then mommy found the one and that was daddy." Her words :)
Nothing has really changed in our home since Doug adopted Bella because he has always been her dad but it does feel awesome that now it's legal too and soon we'll take our little lady to the temple and the three of us will be sealed for time and all eternity and really that's why we've worked so hard to get this done.
i love my family. I am so blessed to have these two in my life. I am blessed to have a husband who loves me and all my imperfections. Who has never judged me. I am blessed that I was able to change for the best for my baby girl and because of her I was able to remember that I too am one of heavenly fathers daughter who he loves and who deserves to be loved and respected. Doug and I will forever work together to make sure that Bella never forgets how much she is loved.