It was a couple days after we met Emily and a couple days before her baby was due when Katie called us letting us know about an update to the adoption plan.
First she assured us that Emily was still certain that she wanted to move ahead with an adoption plan (phew), but that there was an unforeseen complication in the process. While interviewing Emily about her history, she disclosed to the agency that she might be Native American. Seems like no big deal, right? Well in the adoption world, it's a pretty big deal.
Katie went on to explain that if a birth parent is Native American then a special form needs to be sent to and signed by their tribe which gives permission for the adoption. At this point my husband and I were both thinking, "OK, so let's get the form signed," but then Katie told us the next part.
These forms usually take an average of 3 months to be processed by tribes and because our placement is so last minute the paperwork is just being mailed out as we speak. And here's the kicker - Emily cannot sign any relinquishment papers until that form is returned.
To translate what that means: in most cases (in CA) a birth mother will sign relinquishment papers shortly after she is discharged from the hospital. These papers are sent to the state and once they are received then it's a done deal. This process does not take very long - maybe about 1 - 2 weeks. In our case, Emily would not be able to sign anything until that form is returned and can therefore change her mind at any time.
Katie told us that this was now considered a high risk adoption and my husband and I would be classified only as foster parents until that paperwork was returned and Emily was able to sign. So we were looking at 3+ months of uncertainty - living each day knowing that we may have to give this baby back at any time.
Sheldon and I prayed about it a lot and knew we were both still all in, no matter what. We decided we would love this baby for as long (or short) as he was with us.
Just a couple days later the phone rang again...