I remember where I was standing when I received the phone call.
I remember how my legs buckled beneath me and I felt all of the blood rushing from my head. I leaned toward the garbage can, fearful that I would vomit from the news.
I was in between parents arriving for their conferences when I first got the news that my son's adoption, that was near finalization, had taken a surprising and terrifying twist; a birth relative had come out of nowhere and insisted that she should raise him.
Not because she knew him and loved him, but because of her genes.
We had parented our son since he was five days old. We were told that the adoption would be quick and low risk because of the birth mother's past legal issues and other circumstances. This was the reason why we accepted this placement after turning down others that appeared uncertain. We wanted low legal risk because we knew that we couldn't pour our hearts into raising a child, only to have him reunited with relatives.
As I stood, listening to the horrendous details, my mind wanted to block out the reality.
We were told that our state's paramount responsibility was to reunite instead of support our foster to adopt placement. We met with several people; they all said that we could spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and the outcome would not end favorably.
We were told that within six weeks, we would be forced to hand over our son to strangers.
As most can imagine, the feeling of hopeless dread was overwhelming. We allowed ourselves one night to grieve before we decided that no matter what, we had to fight the giant system to keep our son.
After searching, we found an attorney that not only seemed capable, she was anxious to win. We contacted anyone and everyone we knew, advocating for our son. We spent every waking moment researching cases that would support our position. I couldn't effectively teach my first graders so I went on emergency leave to focus on my son and our legal battle.
In the midst of this eight month long nightmare, we decided to see a counselor. It seemed important to get outside help to deal with the stress of the current situation and the real possibility that we would need assistance to mourn the unspeakable if we did lose.
During our initial session, the counselor asked if we had contacted an attachment specialist. She gave us the name of a nationally known expert and explained that this person could be important to our case; this professional would determine if our son did have a healthy attachment to us despite not sharing our genes.
After many months of fighting, we finally had our day in court. Birth relatives had arrived from out of state and stood just feet away from my family as we waited at the courthouse. It was a strange feeling standing, waiting, in the very same space with the people that felt they deserved your child.
While in court, the judge listened to all of the evidence. It was impossible to gauge his thinking by his tone or facial gestures. Finally, it was time to hear his judgment.
There were several minutes that went by and still it was unclear which way his decision was going to fall; until he began to talk about the information provided by the attachment specialist that we had seen.
In an unbelievable coincidence, this judge had listened to this same attachment specialist present on the topic just three weeks prior. Her research and findings impressed him and were in large part, why the judge ruled in our favor.
I know that the reason I am able to raise my son, now nine years old, is because of the miraculous connection that judge had with that expert.
Our lawyer suggesting the counselor, who in turn told us about this well-known specialist; these are connections that would not, could not, have happened unless the stars were aligned perfectly.
My family has come up against challenges since this chaos years ago and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself about the importance of timing and the universe aligning all of the important details up, just right.