Greetings, True Believers.
This post is a special moment for me. Since 21 OCT 2011 I have been a father. In the hearts of my children, I've been "dad" for a long time now, but in the eyes of the law I spent a lot of that time as a foster father, with the State of Texas being the "managing conservator" of my children's welfare. If all of you are wondering why I broke my resolution to post once weekly last week, it was because we were coming up on a landmark day in our parenthood, Adoption Day, which occurred on 30 May 2013 just a few days ago. There was a lot of preparation, a lot of tough decisions financially, and enough emotion to wreck the spiritual development of a thousand Vulcans.
To quote the much-maligned theme music from Enterprise, "It's been a long road... gettin' from there to here." In the eyes of the courts, Mary and I were nothing more than the babysitter for the first 11 months and 29 days of our parenthood, which could have been revoked for the slightest reason at any time up to that point. During that time, we got to watch the State do its' level best, as is required of it, to place our children with family members. That almost occurred. Our final court date was 17 October 2012, just days before the one year mark at which Mary and I would have been "party to the case" and finally allowed to speak in court. At that time, all indications were that the kids would have been moved to a family who were extended relatives of the birth parents. We walked into the courtroom with the full expectation that the judge was going to tell us to pack up the kids, they were moving. We had seen visits with this family increase in frequency and duration, and the lawyer for the birth mom had already tried a hail-Mary play to move for immediate placement. We were emotional wrecks. MUCH to our surprise, our CASA worker delivered an impassioned plea for the children to be left where they were, as they were in a good home and had bonded so deeply with Mary and I that moving them would be detrimental to the well-being of the children. The Court agreed, and the birth family's rights were terminated - voluntarily to our surprise.
Last Tuesday we appeared in court with a large number of supportive friends, family and caseworkers who arrived to see us made the legal parents of our children. We had members of Mary's family, members of my family, members of the Royal Dragoon Guards/Starship Texas... in short, a humbling outpouring of support and love. We had more Facebook messages from other friends, family and well-wishers who could not make it to the event. It was, in short, amazing.
I believe my proudest moment was watching Kaylee, as she ran from the well-populated table of stuffed animals in front of Judge Hathcock to the peanut gallery and back giving each person in the crowd a stuffed animal while statements were taken from myself, Mary, and our CASA, CPS and Arrow representatives. When the judge asked Zane what his name was, he was initially reluctant to speak, but when I told him it was OK, he said proudly "My name is Zane Charles Xavier WEBB." It was all I could do to hold back the tears. The judge declared us a legal family, and the birth certificates for our children will reflect Mary and I as their by-God parents, as if they were born to us - which is fitting, since that's how we feel about them in our hearts.
I'd like to take a moment to thank the birth parents for having the courage and presence of heart to know that Mary and I could provide a warm, loving, secure home for their children better than they could at this time. I know it must have been a hard decision to sign those papers, voluntarily terminating their parental rights. I could see the love in both their eyes when they visited with the children, and I wish they could know that I respect the depth of love it takes to make the admission that someone else might provide a better future and a more stable home and act on that realization. I consider it my solemn duty to make sure that Zane and Kaylee never want for anything, and are raised to be inquisitive, loving, respectful, thoughtful, and kind. I want my children to respect their elders and authority figures, but not be so slavishly dependent on them that they do not think for themselves. I want them to question, to learn, and to stand up for what their hearts tell them is right regardless of anything they have been taught. I want them to have the courage to speak their minds, and the compassion to be respectful of the beliefs of others - both qualities it has taken me thirty-seven years to develop.
At this point in my life, everything is wonderful, and special. I remember the feeling Wednesday night as we sat down do dinner at our kitchen table and I looked at Mary and mused "This is our first family dinner at home where our last names match!" My heart is exploding with love, and joy, and hope for the future. I love my children, and I hope they experience the love of many, many others as they journey through life.
Ladies and gentlemen, I happily introduce you to Zane Charles Xavier Webb, age 3, and Kaylee Jo Webb who will be 2 this month. They are my world, they are my children. I had so many plans for where I would be or what I would be doing as I approached forty years of age, but to quote the song one additional time, thanks to these kids, I will be "Goin' where my heart will take me."
The Old Dragoon