Ten years ago, when we were bringing our sweet Jubilee home we knew she would likely be our first lifer….meaning we would get to keep her forever. Of course we didn’t make the decision lightly. We knew what it would mean, yet, with so many orphans waiting for homes how could we pretend we hadn’t seen her precious little face that needed a family? We look back on that decision and our hearts are overwhelmed with gratefulness. We could have never fathomed the true joy she would bring to our lives. If we had let fear stand in the way, we could have missed this girl.
Honestly, we actually shudder to think of her not being part of our family. The world is a cruel place for an orphan but incomprehensible for an orphan with severe special needs. We are forever thankful to the Lord for the day we said “yes” to her adorable little face. What a treasure we had found!
With Jubilee turning 18 we had some legalities to take care of. Who knew that whether adopted or birthed, when a child reaches 18 and needs continued care that their parents have to go through the legal process of becoming their guardians? I had zero idea.
It was quite a process….and for anyone who will one day need to do this, here’s the short version of how it went in Phoenix.
We started with getting a thorough medical report from a licensed psychologist who spent a morning with Jubilee and wrote an evaluation as well as a report (which took a couple of months to get). Eventually Dw was able to go down to the courts and file all the necessary paperwork and pay the court fees. A few weeks later we took her to meet with her attorney – yes, she needed her own attorney to represent her best interests. The attorney was great and does this all the time – thankfully. As the court date approached an investigator called and interviewed me by phone. The next day he came to our home to investigate (with a window of time from 8 till noon). He arrived and interviewed Jubilee as well as Dw. We then received paperwork giving us permission to head to court to be appointed as her legal guardians.
Jubilee definitely did not understand all that was going on but we did our best to assure her all was well. Court went smoothly, although the Judge did wonder if all Jubilee’s adult siblings had been served notice in case any wanted to contest the appointment of us as her guardians. My heart began to pound as this could cause a delay…(and if in that delay she needed emergency medical help we would not be allowed to make the decisions but rather she would be required to make all her own decisions). And then I mean can you really imagine trying to serve each of the kids spread around the country and Emma on the other side of the world? As it turns out Jubilee’s attorney reminded the Judge of the law stating that siblings are only served if a sibling is applying for guardianship, not when parents are applying for guardianship. Whew!
On a comical note I was telling Emma about court and she questioned through a huge smile, “Wait! If I contested would that mean *I* could keep Jubilee forever?” Haha. Yes, our Jubilee is loved by all and I imagine one day there will be a royal fight to see who keeps her.
After court we walked over to a nearby coffee shop to celebrate Jubilee becoming our daughter – forever again. Her smile says it all. And those eyes raised up are because she’s being silly with me – she’s such a hoot. And go ahead, ask her anytime you want…”Who’s your favorite?” Without hesitation she says, “Mom!” Yes, indeed my shadow loves me and I sure love my shadow – forever and ever she’s ours.