I am one of the lucky people who gets to have two dads. My first father passed away when I was nine years old, and my sister was six years old. My sister and I had a much different childhood than most of our friends as a result. A few years after my first father’s death, my mom met Skip.
Skip was everything my mom thought she didn’t want. He was older, he did not have children, and was not interested in having children. Skip grew up on a farm and lived a very different life than my mom. While his table manners are excellent, he wouldn’t care if you use a salad fork to eat your supper. My mom is a tad fussier.
My parents met on a blind date and circumstances kept bringing them together. Eventually they started dating and after being together for a few years, decided to get married. I can recall my childhood friends complaining about their step-parents or their step-families and not really understanding or sharing in their concerns. Skip was the best thing that happened to our family and was the best dad a girl could ever ask for. In high school, I referred to Skip as my step-dad, but when I started college, it was easier to just refer to him as my dad. With the exception of a genetic connection, Skip was my dad.
When I was a child, the subject of adoption never truly came up because of the tragic circumstances of my first father’s death. He was 38 years old and had an unexpected and fatal heart attack. I wanted to maintain the thread to my first father and not create any ripples with his side of the family that adoption may have inadvertently created. As I got older, the idea of adoption became more important to me. I realized that I could maintain the connection to my first father and acknowledge the role that Skip was playing in my life. I can recall in law school filling out adult adoption papers for my parents and handing completed packets to them to sign before a notary and submit to the Court. It took a little time for my mom to warm up to the idea, but over a decade later, my sister and I were finally adopted by Skip. For me, the adoption symbolized the legal acknowledgment of what we had already been living: Skip had unofficially been my dad for over 20 years. It felt great to make it official! Having my partner represent my parents in this matter made it even more special!
There are a lot of reasons why someone may want to adopt another person. Sometimes we see adoption by families that are unable to conceive naturally. Sometimes children in foster care are adopted by their foster parents. Sometimes we see adoption by step-parents to acknowledge familial relationships, like my family. Sometimes people adopt to preserve estate rights or guarantee that children will be able to assist with medical decisions when they are of age. Adoption is a wonderful way for families to ensure that legal rights are preserved. For me, my adoption was an exciting and touching experience, and I am so happy to have legal acknowledgment of the role that Skip has played in my life.
November is National Adoption Month. It is an effort to increase awareness of adoption issues and to remind folks that there are teens in foster care that are eligible and waiting for adoption. The US Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau stated, “Teens need love, support, and a sense of belonging that families can provide. Securing lifelong connections for these teens, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.” While my adoption story is very different from a teenage foster care adoption, it does highlight the gratitude that a child, even an adult child, can have from legally acknowledging a loving parental relationship. If you are considering adopting a child and are looking for legal assistance, please contact our office by calling 518-884-0200 or using our online contact form.