S is for Smitty

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This is Smitty.

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Smitty is a monkey from Build-A-Bear. So he’s a Build-A-Monkey.

We got Smitty to commemorate a very important day. The day we went to court and legally became a family.

We became a family the minute we got the phone call that Lily was coming to us. But this was the day it became final. We had the same run of emotions that most adoptive families have. Worrying that something will go wrong. That some unknown blood relative will appear. This is a myth, by the way. And a harmful one, if it scares people away from adopting. First, a blood relative would actually have to 1. Know about the proceedings and 2. Show up. Then, that person would have to prove that they are a BETTER fit than the adopting family. Not. Likely. (Primarily because, uh, where ya been til now?)

So we had all these worries. And additional silly ones with no legal basis. Like, the judge deciding we didn’t make enough money. Or her bedroom was too small. Or that we shouldn’t have given her peas without cutting them. (a real question asked in our home study, btw.)

But this was all unfounded, of course. So we were relieved as we realized how easy this was going to be. Then overwhelmed when the judge said she found that we were the best family for Lily, and that we now had all of the same legal responsibilities as a birth family.

It’s a common story. Because frankly, that’s how adoption works. Nia Vardalos tells a very similar story in her book “Instant Mom.” But it’s special when it’s your own family going through it. Five minutes in court that change your lives forever.

We needed to celebrate. So we headed to Build-A-Bear. Lily had very little idea of what was going on. I’m not really sure who picked the monkey. She may have pointed to him. But she was fascinated by the stuffing process. The picture above is when she put in his heart. She kissed it LOTS of times, and we said a prayer over it and promised to love each other as a family forever. And that was it.

For a long time Smitty was just a monkey. But we always told her he was special. That we got him the day a judge said we were a family forever. And after a while, she could repeat it by rote. “We got Smitty when we went to the judge!” And we looked at pictures from that day. And she would repeat more and more as her language developed. Always by rote.

Then the other day something new happened.

“Can we look at pictures of the day you got me? And when we got Smitty and you adopted me?”

She’s starting to understand. Not just repeat, but understand.

So far our adoption discussions have all been beautiful. I know this will not always be the case. I know that the more she understands, the more she will question. And I know that she’ll have moments of anger and rebellion- just like every teen.

But for now, Smitty’s story is one of my favorites.

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