Just paid the last of the endless fees and paperwork associated with the adoption of my step-son!
We’ve already gone through all the associated paperwork and legal investigations, gotten a waiver of parental rights from the birth father, and been visited at home by a social worker (we had to hide the kids who sew our designer knock-offs in the basement — but that’s where they sleep anyway).
Today I gave a $700 check to the Superior Court and now all they have to do is set the court date for us to see the judge, have him/her smack a gavel, sign the papers, and it’s done! I have a brand spankin’ new 8 year old son to add to the collection. That makes three awesome boys (8, 19, 23) and one amazing girl (27). The three older ones I made the old fashioned way. This newest one came as a matched set with my lovely wife (she’s the one in green).
What a hellish process this has been… an absurd series of ineptitudes on the part of the County. They were all very nice, of course, and even apologetic, but ultimately couldn’t come to a consesus on how the whole thing works.
- I was required to have my finger prints taken — but the State had initiated a new digital scanning system for fingerprinting, which the County hadn’t gotten completely installed yet. It was working for people who wanted to be cops or child-care workers, but not for adoptive parents… no option for adoption in the drop down menu of the software (I kid you not). Had to wait nearly a month for that to be fixed.
- Then they lost the waiver of parental rights that the birth father had signed… yes, lost it. After months of our tracking the guy down, chasing him from one temporary address or job to another, and finally paying for the notary so he couldn’t claim lack of funds. Another week or two lost while they tracked that down (they finally realized it was in the file all along).
- Then we had to wait for the case worker to come visit our house. That took some doing, but she finally came by and gave us the green light. At that meeting, she’s supposed to ask us for a $700 filing fee for the Family Services Department (a fee we learned, during this whole process, is not required by any State or Local Government, but was created by the Family Services Division).
- She neglected to ask for the check, and we figured they’d decided to waive it given all the hassle we’d had, or they’d at least contact us for payment. Several weeks later, we got a phone call saying “Why haven’t you paid the $700? We’re waiting for it.” I pointed out that she was supposed to collect it at the home visit, to which they replied “No, you’re supposed to pay it separately.” To which I pointed out “The paperwork we got from your department says otherwise.” To which they replied “Really? Let me see. (rustle rustle) Oh, look at that. You’re right. Well, go pay it directly at room 110 of the County Building.”
- Which took on a life of its own, as I tried four times over the next couple weeks to go in and pay… Once I discovered they were only open till 4 pm (I got there at 4:10, as every other office in the building was open till 5). Once they were closed early (for no apparent reason). Once I realized it was a Holiday (Cesar Chavez Day — who knew?) and once they were closed because the phone system was downed by a guy with pruning shears (big news story here). Of course, all the other offices found a way to stay open, just the one office I needed decided to close. (I also locked my keys in the car that day, it started raining, and with all the phones down [including my cell service] I had to borrow a Sheriff’s working phone to call AAA. But that’s my personal sob story.)
- And when I finally got there today, I waited in line for 35 minutes, got to the window, told the woman I needed to pay my adoption filing fee, and she got this blank “I’ve never heard of that before” look on her face and said “Here? Really? Oh. I’ll have to ask.” My heart leapt into my temples, and I prepared for a showdown. She took off for 10 minutes, but when she came back she apologized, kindly took my money and gave me a receipt.
So all that’s over with now. All the papers are filed, fees are paid, and we simply await the final courtroom meeting, which we understand is a private affair, generally attended by many family members, and may even include cake and balloons.
And the coolest part is, Max (who has called me “Dad” for the past four years) is very excited, and can’t wait.