after many fits and starts the final punctuation can be added to the raisingdc story.
last friday, sheila and paul (paulette and jennifer's biological parents) signed papers to allow dave and debbie and bobbie and mark to adopt the girls (paulette and jennifer, respectively). this is a miracle of the first magnitude; both sets of new parents have wanted to make their custody of the girls permanent for quite some time, and the biological parents have been resistant even though they know they are not in a position to take care of the girls, and in fact, haven't been for quite some time. after much legal consultation both d/d and m/b decided that the best approach would for them to come out together, meet the biologicals in a united front, and show them their willingness to provide permanence and stability for the girls.
neither kimberly nor i were with the parents when they visited sheila and paul, but we got a readout from dave, who was, as you can imagine, ecstatic. the conversation with sheila lasted about two hours, with her sisters (both high functioning women) and social worker present to be sure sheila understood what she was doing. she was adamantly opposed at the start, refusing even to look at the families when they arrived. however, in time, her heart softened as she realized that she was unable to care for the girls in the way that they needed. when she agreed to sign the papers, she told both families she felt like it was the right thing to do.
after one stressful visit (and dealing with sheila is always stressful) the families drove over to paul's nursing home. there, they met him for the first time and spoke with him about their intentions and what they were offering the girls. again, he was resistant initially. the families brought in a social worker, who could help to ensure that paul understood what he would be signing. within 45 minutes, he had agreed to sign the paper. once signed, he burst in to tears and hugged both families. he wheeled himself out with them to say good-bye, waving and blowing them kisses until they had left the parking lot.
we are amazed at the transformation of paul and sheila. kimberly and i have both felt for some time that what the girls have needed--and what every child deserves--is permanence, safety, and stability. it is a miracle that the way has been cleared for both girls to finally get what they have long deserved.
so, from here, d/d and m/b will go back to arizona and proceed with adoption proceedings. this process will take several months. in the meantime, paulette remains at westridge where she participates in weekly family and individual therapy and, among other things, plays on the volleyball team. (word on the street is that she has a mean serve). jennifer continues to thrive in az. she started junior high this fall (6th grade is part of the middle school there) and, fortunately, finally changed her gmail status message to "i love chris brown" instead of "i love christ brown" which i suspect raised more than a few eyebrows.
as for kimberly and i, this essentially means the end of all our legal responsibilities for the girls (which continued until last week). it has been an unbelievable year and a half. life-changing, as cliche as it sounds, would not be an inappropriate way to describe it. we are both eager to begin a new chapter of our lives--a feeling we have a sneaking suspicion that the rest of the raising dc's cast: dave, debbie, bobbie, mark, and most of all paulette and jennifer may just share.