We are now a family of three! This morning went so quickly. It hardly felt like the culmination of the work for a little over two years, but it was! We got to the court and waited for about 30 minutes (we were there early). At a little past 10:00, the presiding officer ushered us into her office. We sat at a round table: the social workers, Mommy Tahiyya (Tisetso’s favorite caregiver and foster mother for the past several years), our lawyer, the court clerks, and us.
Some paperwork was signed and the office asked us questions along the lines of “Would you like to proceed with the adoption?” and “Have you tried a local worm dish?” You know, the usual. Then out of no where, she started reading the ruling that our adoption was finalized. Tisetso was now Tisetso Malcolm, with all of the rights that come with that. He now had approval to leave the Republic of South Africa to travel to the United States of America with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm.
It was at this point that I grabbed Brian’s hand and had to hold back tears. Mommy Tahiyya (as she will forever be known as in our family) and Brian and I had a moment of mutual thanksgiving. A boy we love very much was no longer a kid in the child welfare system. He was Tisetso Malcolm.
After court was a whirlwind of photos and information. We found out our case was the first international adoption in the Atteridgeville court! Tisetso had enough of the photos around three, but it just kept going. When we finally managed to sneak away, we loaded back into the car and headed to our guest house. Tisetso wanted pizza for lunch. Seeing an opportunity, I asked Brian to take Tisetso for an outing to get pizza (Tisetso’s choice for his special day lunch). Alone time for the first time since before London. My heart felt refreshed! Unfortunately for Brian, the first two places he stopped didn’t work out and he had to try a third place! (It was fine by me as I got an hour of quiet.)
After a lunch of pizza, Brian and Tisetso swam in the pool. I “helped” by staying out of the freezing water and keeping the super sweet dog away from Tisetso. When Tisetso was tired of swimming, we did a quick shower and headed out to his party. We stopped quickly for gas and to pick up ice cream, then were back on the road.
The care home where Tisetso has spent the past six years was in full swing. The kids were excited about their bubbles and made quick work of using up all of the solution (some by blowing bubbles, others by dumping it onto the ground and/or drinking some). After bubbles, Tisetso brought the two garbage bags of balloons I had blown up out to the backyard. Chaos ensued. Some balloons were played with and some were promptly popped. After balloons, Brian and I snuck away to buy too many pizzas. Tisetso can eat three slices, no problem, so I counted for each kid to eat at least two pieces, maybe three. We still had eight pizzas left over when the kids were done! We also brought cream soda (Tisetso’s favorite) and ice cream. The kids were properly sugared up!
Tisetso spent a little time with his friends after dinner, but after a while he was ready to go. He didn’t want to say goodbye to anyone, but we asked him to say goodbye to one of the "Aunties" who has been there with him from the beginning. We will spend a month in Cape Town before returning to the Johannesburg / Pretoria area. We plan on going back to the care home to have a final goodbye, but this one felt final in a way. Tisetso will never sleep in that home again. He will not play with all of the brothers and sisters he has grown up with for the next month. As much as he can, I see him processing this information and my heart breaks for him. Yes, adoption is good, but it’s also painful. This is the painful part.
Please pray for our little family. We want to grow to love each other more and to serve each other well. We want to be the best parents for Tisetso possible. We want to lead our son in truth and love. Today was a big day for our family, and we are excited for what the future holds.