This week I took Jamie to his 18 mo check-up. I had heard great things about the doctor. I did everything I could to have information there ahead of time. I even talked with them on the phone beforehand. Needless to say, I was prepared.
I got there early for the appointment to fill out paperwork. After completing all of the paperwork, I brought it up to the receptionist. As she was thumbing through, I mentioned to her in passing that the reason I didn’t fill out some of the medical history was because my son was adopted.
This got her attention and she asked for Jamie’s adoption paperwork. I was a little stunned. Legally, Jamie’s mine. His birth certificate shows us as his parents. He has a social security number that would also list us as his parents. This was not something our previous doctor had requested, so I didn’t even bring it with me.
She quickly got the office manager who very kindly informed me that according to HIPAA laws, they had to have a copy of the adoption paperwork on file in order to treat my son.
So we rescheduled for next week.
And I quickly gathered our stuff and left the office. And barely made it to the car before the tears started flowing. (Thank goodness for sunglasses!)
In that moment I felt myself at first angry and protective that someone would deny my son medical care. But that quickly subsided to embarrassment. You see, by this time the office was full and I felt fairly conspicuous.
And I’m pretty used to that. If you see the three of us together, it’s fairly obvious that Jamie is not our biological son. And, honestly, I love this about our family. I love my beautiful brown child. I love his long eye lashes, and curly hair. I love his soft, silky skin. I am so deeply in love with my son. I am so deeply proud to be his mom.
And I can’t quite explain how it feels for someone to require you to verify that with legal documentation. I can’t quite explain how hard it is for someone to deny me the right to take care of my son. Even now, almost 48 hours later, the tears are still pretty fresh when I replay the scene over in my mind.
You see, I’m an adoptive mom who has generally embraced the fact that Jamie’s medical history is fairly simple to fill out. I don’t mind at all that there are huge sections I just skip over. It makes paperwork easier. And I’m okay with that. To be honest, I enjoy it.
But this… this was different. It was much deeper. And I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to move forward. Here are a few thoughts:
I want to make it clear that the office staff was incredibly gracious. I’ve thought about sending them a thank you note. They handled a tricky situation well. Our doctor’s office in Wheaton never required such documentation, so I’m not sure who had it right. But whether they have interpreted the law correctly or not, they were kind. They were just doing their job.
And this made me realize that Jamie’s adoption paperwork will probably be used often in his life: new doctors, registering for school and who knows what else. Knowing that ahead of time will help.
But friends, this simply stings. My heart aches a little. We’ve experienced lots of insensitive comments about the way our family looks, and, honestly, I find them funny. We joke that we will probably always need to take family photos in natural light if we want everyone to look good. I’ve learned all sorts of things about taking care of Jamie’s hair that I didn’t know before. We enjoy the way God knit our family together. And we don’t mind that people comment.
But this…this was different. This wasn’t about the way our family looked. This felt like it was questioning the fact that we were a family. And it was done so matter-of-fact. To the office staff they were simply asking for paperwork. But for the adoptive mom, it wasn’t nearly so routine. For me, it was deeply, deeply personal.
And I’ve been trying to draw some great spiritual point from all of this. And I don’t know that I have one. Actually, that’s not totally true. Brandon will be preaching this weekend from Galatians, highlighting the fact that we are all adopted into God’s family. I’m excited for him to share what God has placed on his heart. There is such beautiful truth in that book, and I love seeing how God has woven together his church.
And I’ll let Brandon tell you about that.
But here is what I know: we worship a good God. He is faithful. He is loving. He is creative. And He has wonderfully and beautiful brought together our family. We may be fairly conspicuous, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.