We were about to enter a world we had never ventured into before. Up until this moment, the only lawyer we knew was from when we bought our house....we had never been in a court room.....all that was about to change.
I contacted the CAS lawyer...back then, they just had one....now they have a whole team! The lawyer was very understanding. She advised us to get our own lawyer. I said to her that we didn't know any....would she recommend someone....well, she says....that's really against protocol, to recommend just one so I'll recommend three and you'll have to choose. Alright then, I wrote down the three names, then I turned to Don and told him what she said....'three names?', said he...'how are we going to choose?' 'well', I said....'I figure that the one she thought would be best would be the one that she mentioned first...it would have been the first one to come to her mind....I think we should go with that one'.....and so we did.
We went and saw this lawyer....he was not encouraging....he said, never, in history has a foster parent ever won a case over a biological parent....but I'm willing to give it a try. I was on cloud nine....til he dropped the bombshell.....'I'll need a retainer...$2000 should do it'......my heart sunk......my husband looked at him and said 'okay'....I looked at him like he had two heads. We left the office.
When we got out to the car, I turned to him and said 'Donald....we don't have $2000, where the Pete are we going to get that kind of money?' 'A loan , said my husband..'we'll stop at the bank in the way home and arrange a loan'....I was unsure, scared....$2000 was a lot of money back in the 1980's....I questioned him more...he turned to me and said ' in years to come I'm not going to kick myself around the block because we didn't do this because of money' . So, we stopped at the bank, on the way home.....we got the loan.
To say that agency wasn't pleased about our actions would be putting it mildly. In fact, we got 'called on the carpet'.......one of the higher ups called us into his office....he didn't believe that we had done this with the help of other workers and the agency lawyer....he showed us the contract we had signed saying that we would support any action that CAS would do in regards to the foster kids we looked after. We thought they were going to dismiss us as foster parents, or at least take Lauren from our home. They didn't but we were 'blackballed' for a long time ....it was months after our adoption probation time that they called us to take another child.
A court day was set and there was even a lawyer appointed for Lauren called an Official Guardian.
We were scared to death.
Our court time lasted several days, the birth father was supposed to come from British Columbia. He never came...instead, his girlfriend came....when she took the stand, the judge wasn't impressed. She sat there and cried, she said she didn't know anything about court, she thought she was just suppose to come and pick up the little girl. The judge was extremely annoyed. He proclaimed that he'd give the father a time limit to show up and if he didn't then he'd have to pay the court costs. Once again, the birth father didn't come.
At that point our lawyer advised us to drop our suit and trust the agency to follow through and allow us to adopt Lauren. We were pretty frightened to trust them but the lawyer pointed out that the judge had already given his endorsement for us to adopt.....we took a big breath and agreed.
They did keep their word and we did adopt her. We officially and legally changed her name from Victoria to Lauren Kristie Victoria.....we thought it was important to keep her original birth name as her third name....we actually continued to do that with all the children we adopted. We thought it was important that they have it, after all it was part of them from the moment they were born, and it should continue to be so.
Lauren was the start of a long line....one that we never would have believed would happen to our family......and it all started with one tiny wee girl.