Morally competent

by Anne Moore

I wrote this yesterday morning, before the adoption actually took place…

I have to go to court today to adopt my daughter. I’m doing my best to put a brave face on abou the whole thing, approaching the court date as if it were a celebration, etc. We’ll see how well things go along those lines when we actually get to the courthouse, but I haven’t felt anxious or nuts in the last few days the way I expected I would. Instead, I’ve been feeling surprisingly free—cracking jokes and wanting to jump all over the place.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, most of my fears about the experience have been focused on myself—feeling illegitimized as a parent, angry at an unjust system, etc. But last night I had a dream that made me think, instead, of Izzy, and how this kind of thing might affect her. We were in a prison together (a detail that, I’m proud to say, was clearly lifted from the episode of Deep Space Nine that I was watching last night), and I had to help her find clothes to protect her from some kind of periodic sweep. We would hide together on this big wall made of trash (like the barricade from Les Mis, speaking of how my entire unconscious is lifted from pop culture!), and I would help her find a T shirt or something in the rubble.

It’s not just me I need to protect in all this. This is the thing I forget so often about being part of a family—it’s never just me anymore. To make everything come full circle even more, Ariel had suggested the other day that I should be the one to select outfits for us all for the court date, since I often manage my anxiety through wardrobe choices. (When we were looking for our first apartment together, I was so nervous that I couldn’t handle it without being in some sort of drag, so I wore a 1950s dress and little white gloves to tour all the apartments). So I’m going to wear the dress I defended my dissertation in, and Izzy will be in her prettiest party dress, and Ariel will look like a power butch softball coach, and I’ll do my best to shield my little family with fashion from the bullshit of an unjust world.

A brief postscript, just to say that the strangest (and most unexpectedly moving) part of the experience was when the judge declared that, in the eyes of the Commonwealth, I am officially morally competent to raise Isadora Lillian Brownmoore. Which, duh. But I’ll tell you what–I never ever thought I would be declared morally competent in a court of law.

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