This morning, a judge signed our final adoption decree. Diva is officially adopted. According to the law, her Daddy is the man who has taught her to play soccer, who sings songs and plays the guitar until she falls asleep, and who just spent nearly $2,000 so her last name would be the same as his.

At our IHOP victory breakfast.

I’ve stared at our certified copy several times since it was handed to be this morning by our attorney. I kept running my finger over the raised seal. “Is this real?” I kept asking myself silently, touching the indentations and red Superior Court seals over and over again.

To be honest, this morning was a bit anticlimactic when I think about the hell that I went through in order to get to this point. It’s a hell that close friends witnessed, my family witnessed, and, to my deepest regret, Diva witnessed. If you have ever been in a horrible relationship, then you know that the stress reaches out and affects those around you. The person who is cruel to you is usually cruel to those around you. They rarely save all their poison for you. Close friends and family quickly learn to read between the lines and the cracks on the surface begin to deepen to show the pain beneath.

I worry about what I will tell my daughter one day when she asks “Why did my biological father sign away his rights? Why did he give me away?” The truth isn’t easy. It will be easy for a while. Right now, and for many more years, the simplest truth works: he knew he wasn’t being a good Daddy and that he needed to work on being a better person. I’m worried about when she gets older and wants to know more. What is appropriate to tell a teenager? A young adult? A daughter who is in her thirties and wants the cold, hard, don’t-you-dare-sugar-coat-it-for-me truth?

How do I tell her that she has an older half-brother? One who also was given up for adoption at a few hours old? How do I explain that there was abuse? Horrible emotional abuse and physical abuse that started the week I found out I was pregnant? Do I tell her that those wispy, vague memories of a stepmother and stepsister are indeed real? That their marriage dissolved when her bio father decided to put her stepmother in a choke hold? Or that he then refused to cooperate in therapy, knowing it was the only way he could see her again? Should I mention that when he started hurting her, that I put a stop to it? That when she cried for hours waiting for him to show up, I decided that I was through? The moment his broken promises and lies started effecting her, my patience and willingness to allow a relationship dissolved?

Or how about all the times he declared that he didn’t think she was his? How many times was that thrown in my face? More than I can count. How many times did I wish that he wasn’t the father? Pretty much every single day of Diva’s life. I’ve hated him with such a passion for so long. A passion that I have made sure Diva was never aware of. I have bitten my tongue until it has bled to keep from badmouthing him in front of her. Oh, it hurt.

When she was old enough to understand what was being said around her, it was hard not to be passive-aggressive. It was hard to make up excuses for his arrogant, selfish ass. Why wasn’t he here yet? Well, he must not be off work yet. Why didn’t he answer the phone? He must have been super busy doing XYZ. Or, after getting off the phone, what did he say? If I answered honestly, I would have said something along the lines of “He thinks I’m a terrible mother who is obviously sleeping around because I didn’t answer his 82 psycho dialed calls. He called me every name he could think of and then told me that he wasn’t going to buy you diapers because he didn’t think you were his daughter. He also demanded that I tell him everywhere I am or else he is going to take you and never give you back. OH, and his parents want you to come spend the night so they can take you shopping while he is out partying.” But, instead, I usually answered with a tame “He loves and misses you! He can’t wait to see your cute little nose!”

It’s been several years since I’ve had to deal with his brand of emotional abuse and controlling ways. But there are still scars. I’ve since read Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. It is an amazing book that really opened my eyes to just how bad things really were. This fuels more conflicting feelings and thoughts regarding what to tell my daughter. I want her to recognize emotional abuse. I want her to know it is never okay for her to be treated like that. I want her to know that it happens often, to many women of various races, educational backgrounds, ages, religions, cultures. There is no discriminating feature to emotional abuse. It is an equal opportunity horror.

I need her to know that she gave me the strength to end the cycle and to stand on my own. I need her to know that she was my reason for finding the last bit of courage in my soul and embracing the astounding freedom that ending a controlling relationship brings. I need her to know that she gave me the reason to save myself.


Until then, I am going to cherish her innocence. I am going to laugh as I tell everyone about how Smushy decided to lean over and bite Diva on the nose, seconds before we were to appear before the judge. We had two wailing children, one because she was bitten and the other because he had been told we don’t bite, an amused lawyer, and a deputy who couldn’t help but laugh. The court clerks rushed to get Diva some ice for her nose and the judge ushered us into her chambers. I croaked and sounded like a foghorn as I was sworn in (thank you, laryngitis!). Hubby’s hair was a mess thanks to Smushy’s styling efforts while being up on Daddy’s shoulders. The judge was too nervous to shake my hand or be near me for pictures because she thought I might be contagious. Our one picture is slightly blurry, but it’s okay. The rest of the story will be beautifully in focus.

11 thoughts on “Finalized.

  1. Savy, I had no idea everything you went through with Ella’s sperm donor but I know when the day comes to tell her what you went through to give her and yourself a better life she will already have the tools to cope and understand (one day). You are a wonderfully strong person and mother. I admire who you have become and you inspire me to make something of myself. I wish we lived closer so we could visit in person so I could give you a big hug


  2. This was so touching… She may never ask why did my birth dad give me up. I never did. The man who raised me is my dad. I never asked questions, You did an amazing thing..


  3. ps- I am so happy for your family- Things do not all ways happen the way we want them to, but they all ways happen the way the Lord had planed them.


  4. It was my precious 16 year old that opened my eyes to the emotional abuse, I went thru. Amazing how one can live in it and never see it. My 7 children gave me the courage to change my life………….. yeah……. first had to find me again……… that caused some damage but a step necessary for me. The me , who had died years ago , had to find a rebirth, to find herself…………. in order to have the strength and conviction to go forth and conquer. The silent victim in emotional abuse carries with them a self doubt that takes along time to rise from. Smiles, you made it. Diva will never be there……….. and I can always pray, Abigail and Eden Rose, NEVER live thru anything like that!!!

    Congratulations Diva!!!! You gots you a real daddy!


  5. Savanna! You are amazing. And I have seen you through the years blossom into the strong, happy, corageous woman you are today! Ella sees this too, I am sure. And to be honest I don’t think Ella will even ask about him. I’ve never known my birth father nor have I cared to. The best thing you can do if she asks is be honest and then leave it completely up to her from there and most likely (just like my case) she will model your strength and stay away from him. 🙂 I love you and I am so happy that you guys are now officially a family!

    P.S. we need to hang out more!


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