Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Six Years Ago

Was a day that greatly impacted our lives as a family. It was the day Steve became Austin's father...legally.

All the way back at the beginning, way before Steve, and even Austin, I made a choice. The choice of person wasn't great, but the outcome has been worth every single hardship along the way. Austin definitely wasn't a mistake...God has great things in store for that child, I know it.

I remember going to BirthRight and taking the pregnancy test. There I sat with my best friend, while the lady told me I was not pregnant after about 5 seconds. Sara then ensued in telling the nurse that it might not show up that fast and while they spoke, slowly the negative began to turn into a positive. I thought I was prepared for that eventuality, but as it got more and more positive, I got more and more scared. I was only just 19, what was I thinking??? How was I going to raise a child on my own??? Because I think even then I knew I would be doing this alone. The nurse then said that it could be a false positive because it wasn't very dark, but to get checked anyway.

I went back and told his biological father, "JR", that I was pregnant and his response was "Can I go finish my game now?" For, with my news, I had interrupted a very important Dungeons and Dragons game. He did and I was left alone to think.

I was very, very sick. I finally broke down and told my little brother what was going on. He told my sister who told my father, who told my mother, who called me. That was a nightmare. I wasn't yet ready to face that, but now I had to.

I ended up in the ER due to the morning sickness after being in urgent care, then the OB's office, then finally the ER to receive fluids and be sure it wasn't a tubal pregnancy. The relief I felt when I saw that tiny little baby with his little heartbeat, just fine, right where he should be, was overwhelming. In all of this, JR dropped me off at each destination and took my car with him. So my mom finally came to the ER with me.

Fast forward a few months and I knew I was ready to leave. I moved back home to raise Austin alone. I knew I would be eventually doing this, but I didn't realize I would be alone for the remainder of my pregnancy and birth. It really didn't matter that I was alone. It was better to have family that actually cared around me than JR who didn't really care and didn't want anything to do with me or this child.

For the first year of Austin's life, I begged JR to come visit Austin. He did three times. Each time, he said he didn't want anything to do with Austin if he couldn't have me, also. Sorry...it doesn't work that way. I was finally OK with being a single mom, I was not going to let him manipulate me any longer.

We saw each other occasionally in court, but otherwise our paths never crossed again. I attempted a termination of parental rights when I was single and Austin was three. That drug on for several months, with the final ruling not only with his rights not terminated, but he suddenly had visitation. This person who had not seen Austin beyond six months of age was now allowed to visit him? He did one time. When he failed to follow through with that, we went back to the sole custody agreement and all future supervised visits ceased.

Then I met Steve. Austin was four and I had just bought my first house. I was finally in a place where I accepted being alone, being a single parent, and I knew I could take care of myself and we would be all right. I think that is why things with Steve went so well....because I no longer needed someone, someone to take care of me, but companionship was nice. It was nice to have someone to talk to about anything.

Austin and Steve had a very rough start. He hated Steve. Steve did everything right, but Austin did not care. He was an invasion in his routine and someone new. We now know that the struggles they had the first 18 months were due more to Asperger's than anything else, but it was very trying during those times for me. I loved Austin so much and I loved Steve so much and Steve loved me and Austin, but it didn't matter to Austin. I am not sure any other man would have been able to go through those struggles and been a better person for it. Steve learned how difficult Austin could be, but it did not change how he felt about Austin, or me for that matter. He understood Austin needed his boundaries. Steve never, ever tried to parent Austin...they were just "friends" during that time.

When we knew we were going to get married, we started talking about adoption. Steve wanted very badly to adopt Austin, but we also both knew that since there was one failed attempt at termination that JR fought, it could very easily end that way. Steve said he didn't care...he considered Austin his son and if he could never legally adopt Austin or if Austin never had his last name, that didn't change anything.

The Monday after we were married, papers were sent to JR to relinquish all rights. He had 30 days to do so, without a court hearing trying for a termination. He waited that entire 30 days, also, but in the end, he signed off all parental rights. Whether he realizes it or not, that was the greatest gift, besides Austin, he could have given us. The papers were signed on September 18, one day before Austin's 6th birthday. And on November 21, 2001, Austin was officially adopted by Steve and became his son legally. That was the first day Austin called him "Dad" also. It was one week before Thanksgiving...we had a lot to be thankful for that year.

All the heartache of the past no longer matters...Austin has a father that knows and loves him very much. He has never had to worry about where he stands in our family. He has not had to have "visits" with another person, and for that, I am so thankful. He has not had to divide his time between parents. He has not had to worry about his brothers being "step" or "half." They are just, simply, brothers.

God works in amazing ways. I never could have imagined at 19 where my life would be today. I did not see God's plan then, nor did I even realize that God had a plan for my life. That he could use my trials and my sins for good.

Austin does not know all that I went through with JR. He has no idea the struggles we had and I will never share that with him. If he chooses to meet JR someday, he will be able to draw his own conclusions about him.

This year, our family has even more reasons to be thankful. We did not know that day in November 2001 the struggles we would have to add to our family. We were just beginning the journey. And now, six years later, we have five very healthy boys and a loving home where they are all safe and loved.

Thank you God for all the blessings you have bestowed upon our family....we are eternally grateful!

2 comments:

Dad said...

Dad here. I enjoyed reading your story and remember quite well all of what was going on. I want you to know that I am very proud of you and your family. I couldn't have picked a better son-inlaw as Steve. He is a very good father and husband. Thanks for hanging in there and in the end it all comes out for the best. I love you Matilda

Janet Bales said...

Trista,
This was one of the most touching entries I have read in this journal.
I remember each step and trial, and gain over the past 12-1/2 years. I was so proud of your for your strength to leave JR and to be free of him. It was so frightening for you, but your strength has prevailed -
And Steve has really hung in there - I remember a time they had a stand-off, and Steve told Austin he was a stubborn German, and could stay there as long as it took. He's still standing there.
I love you both,
Mom