Termination of Parental Rights.

I Love My Birth Mom

For those who don’t know a lot about open adoption or adoption in general. I urge you to do your research. Look into adoption agencies. Talk to people. Ask questions. Ask me if you want to, but part of the process is terminating the parental rights of the biological parents of the child. From an adoptive parent perspective this was probably one of the hardest things I sat through during this adoption process.

First, this is supposed to happen within the first 30 days after the child is born. Of course in our case it was more like 45 days. Jackson was born on August 12, 2017 and the termination of parental rights hearing was on September 22, 2017.  This also means that Jackson was in our care under what is known as a “legal risk.” That means at any given point Heather could have changed her mind or his birth father could have showed up. A lot of people were “worried” about us during this time but I didn’t for one second question, worry, or even think Heather was going to change her mind. We had an amazing relationship and I just knew she wouldn’t do that.

But, we know nothing about his birth father. Part of me is/was ok with that because we have such a great relationship with Heather and I didn’t want him showing up at the last minute saying he wanted to be a part of Jackson’s life. But when Jackson was tested for a heart murmur this year, a part of me wished we knew a little more about his birth father, so we would at least know his medical background.

With that being said, during the adoption process we had to publish to make his birth father aware of Jackson’s birth and the adoption. I know it sounds crazy, but that is part of the process. In case you don’t know what published means, do you remember what a newspaper is? Inside of the newspaper there is a classifieds section and in that section there are legals listed. We had to list in that section to see if Jackson’s birth father would respond.  He didn’t. This process brought in a huge mix of emotions.  At the time, we didn’t want the birth father to respond because we wanted the process to be smooth and well, continue.  Now, it would be nice to know for Jackson’s sake.

Heather had to appear in court before a Judge. We decided as a family (all of us, JJ, Heather and I) that we would go with her. We didn’t want her to be alone in this situation or setting. Her grandmother came with and JJ’s brother was in town from Texas, and he came with us. Let me first tell you that they do NOT encourage adoptive families to go. I now know why. It was extremely hard to listen to the judge ask Heather several times if she understood that her rights would be terminated. I remember the judge even said to her, the adoptive parents are in court with you today, and you understand they could leave here today and choose to not see you again. We were sitting there, holding the child they were referring to and Heather was so calm and poised in the hearing. I would have been terrified. But she was so strong in her decision and made it clear to the judge that this is what she wanted.

This was the first time that we saw Heather since the day we left the hospital Jackson wore his onsie we had made for him that says, “I love my birthmom.” Afterwards we all went out for lunch at Kewpee’s. A Racine tradition for many, including Heather and her family! It was an emotional day for us and I can only imagine how Heather felt about it. I think back to when the judge questioned Heather repeatedly and said in a stern voice that we, as Jackson’s adoptive parents, could leave this courtroom and never speak to Heather again.  I remember feeling and actually saying to myself that we would never and I mean NEVER leave this courtroom and never speak to Heather again.  In our minds from day 1, this process has never and will never be about us; it’s all about our love for Jackson.  And, our love for Jackson includes Heather and her family.

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Photo Credits: Heather
Created with Nokia Smart Cam
Photo Credits: Heather

One response to “Termination of Parental Rights.”

  1. Heather Mitchell Avatar
    Heather Mitchell

    This is very personal to share, but it’s raw truth.

    Terminating my parental rights was extremely emotional. If you’ve been reading through these blogs & comments, you know that I knew Jackson was Jessica & JJ’s all along. PERIOD…. So, “legally” signing over my parental rights over to them wasn’t going to be a huge problem for me, because they were always his parents (in my eyes).

    I am the type of person who was trained (by life) to always prepare for the worst, no matter what. Because the worst DOES happen, and it hits you like FIRE when you are not prepared! & that FIRE can do immense amount of damage.

    I HAD TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST in this situation.
    I had to sit down, and prepare myself for the emotions that came with “what if”…
    “what if” JJ & Jessica haven’t been genuine this whole entire time?
    “what if” they were faking their love just to make sure I signed my rights over?
    “what if” once I sign over my rights, they just disappear.
    “what if” I never see Jackson again?
    “what if” his parents feel it’s best Jackson doesn’t know who I am at all?
    That was THE WORST..

    Even though, on this day, little baby Jackson showed up to the courtroom with a onesie which read “I ❤ my birth mom"….
    Even though, deep down, I knew that the "what ifs" were nothing to truly worry about because I just knew the worst wouldn't happen.. No, not this time!

    But, I prepared myself for the worst, anyways.. I had to make myself be comfortable with the thought of Jackson and his parents disappearing and just having faith that one day he might find me if he wanted to.
    My only hope was that he knew how much I loved him, no matter where he was. That his birth mom, Heather, loved him. SO MUCH, and always will..
    So when the judge kept repeatedly bringing up my worst fear over and over and over again, it was like being stabbed a little tiny bit in the heart but I was ready for it. I prepared myself for the "WHAT IFS"….

    It's hard when you put yourself in a position where you are forced under the spotlight. Privacy completely goes out the window, & in order to succeed, you must stay strong.

    The feeling of being judged was the worst part of that experience…
    Sitting up on that stand, being asked question after question after question after question!
    Trying my hardest to hold back my emotions.
    Sharing very personal details about a time in my life I was not very proud of.
    That lifestyle kept flashing through my mind as I was sitting there on that stand, with all eyes on me.

    Every night, drinking until I couldn't think or feel anymore.
    Drinking, drinking, drinking the pain away.
    Drinking, because it was fun.
    Drinking until all morality went out the window.
    Having casual sex with someone I didn't even know…
    Drowning in depression… Just SO lost in this world…
    It all led me to that place, to that moment, on that stand…
    & all of that was just swarming my brain all at once.

    I've been judged all my life.
    By people who don't even know me at all. & they didn't care to, but they always had an opinion.
    By family who obviously know who I am but don't have the slightest idea of anything beneath the surface.
    By "friends" who aren't really my friends, yet people who just like to talk about me..

    Mostly, I've been judged by people who NEVER took an opportunity to TRY to understand me or get to know me, for who I AM.
    All they saw were my shortcomings. Constantly.

    On that stand, in that courtroom, I was shaking at the thought of people judging me (again), and when I went home it made me so angry that I allowed the judgment of others to affect me THAT MUCH.
    It was an eye opener! A blessing in disguise.

    I used to take judgments so personally, but after that day on that stand, I no longer let the judgments of others get to me like how I used to.
    Now, the only judgments I allow to truly "get to me" are my OWN or from people who I know truly LOVE me unconditionally.

    I do want to say that I am extremely happy that Jessica and JJ were there when I terminated my parental rights. For 1, I got to see them again with baby Jackson. 2, I definitely felt less alone with them being there. 3, the vision of them right in front of me during the proceedings gave me a constant reminder of WHY I was doing what I was doing..

    & 4 – Being there altogether meant a lot to me. Ultimately, it's all about Jackson & it's all about him having the best life possible.
    Sticking together for him through all the hard times, the good times, the sad times, the fun times. It's all about him, and building that relationship together for Jackson is just amazing because he needs that.


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