While the world is celebrating Chinese New Year and the brand new Year of the Rabbit, for our family, last week was all about the Goose — Lucy Goose, that is.
It’s hard to believe but on February 1, Lucy celebrated her fourth birthday, kickstarting her new life as a “big girl,” something she takes very seriously. I couldn’t help but think back to her first birthday, just three years ago, and how excruciating it was for us to spend it without her. Now, she’s a sassy, opinionated preschooler who loves to play with her brothers and cause a little bit of mischief here and there.
In honor of our little girl, the five of us headed to the local Build a Bear to hand over our mortgage payment in exchange for some expensively-dressed fur balls. I would completely complain about the price of the overpriced animals had they not thrown in the free entertainment. Watching the male employee try to convince our daughter that she wanted something more girlie and not the blue Star Wars bear she had adamantly decided on was certainly worth the price of admission. There’s something rewarding about watching another adult’s futile attempt to go head to head with our little ball of determined fire.
After stuffing her new bear with lots of loving birthday wishes and accompanying Star Wars theme music, it was time to dress him. While Obi-Wan Kenobi was first choice, she settled on a Princess Leia outfit, complete with signature hairstyle.
Later that week, I spent time in Lucy’s classroom teaching the preschoolers about Chinese New Year and making a dragon parade with the kiddos. Lucy was eating up the excitement of her “special” week, which includes being line leader, getting lots of attention and being chosen to help the teacher with lots of special tasks. Funny enough, we call that *everyday*. I wonder if she even noticed a difference. (PS: Check out her beautiful dress that we bought in Taiwan — it finally fits her!)
We finished the Lucy-filled week off with a very important date, something that should have been done many moons ago. When Lucy came home from Taiwan, she became an American citizen the moment she arrived on U.S soil. She was officially our daughter and we could have ended the process there. However, her birth certificate still showed her previous name, something that would extend to her social security card, had we applied for one then. So we decided to hold off until we followed through with a re-adopt, which ultimately provides a new birth certificate with her MacDougall name. I have to admit, I was torn about this. While I certainly wanted to keep things simple and clear for her as she grows up and needs these legal documents, I hate the idea of providing a new “birth certificate” with our names. Of course we still have her original, which she will have forever, but I want to be sure Lucy knows that her life before us is honored and valued and that she can ask anything she wants to about her past.
That being said, it was time to move forward with the re-adopt process and get our little lady a social security number. So we all trekked down to family court for our date with the judge. After arriving on time (yay, me!), we spent a few minutes running from one office to the next to the next, before finally finding the room where adoptions are done. As I looked at the list of cases on the door, I was suddenly sick with that feeling… why didn’t I see our family’s name listed? Sweating by now, I got back in the elevator, down to the second floor, and asked the sweet, friendly, not-annoyed-at-all lady behind the glass what I was missing.
Apparently, what I was missing… was the address. We had driven an hour to the WRONG courthouse. For re-adopts, the court provides a “courtesy” to families and allows them to complete the process closer to home. It was now 1:48 pm (our appointment was at 1:45) and we were 30 miles away from the correct location.
Fortunately for us, our judge was a kind, forgiving woman with a sense of humor and a handful of lollipops. As long as we got there by 4:00 pm, she would see our case.
And on that day, February 4, 2011, almost two and a half years after coming home, our daughter had officially become Lucy Mei-Ting Janice MacDougall. It was the perfect ending to Lucy’s special week, something that we wanted to celebrate in the way Lucy saw fit.
And so we all went out for pizza. The end.