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Thursday morning came very quickly.   Steven spent the night and I was told that Evelyn would meet us at the court house an hour before the hearing.  Mac Redmann was already there so we had a quick pow-wow before it all began.  We were the second item on the docket for the day.

When the courtroom opened, we entered and took our seats three rows back.  Mac went up to talk with the other lawyers in the room, some of which she obviously knew.  Judge Benfold entered and we all stood.  The first item was the adoption of two girls.  The judge was quite thorough with the parents and took the time to talk with the girls in his chambers.  I noticed that the lawyers were not invited, just the court reporter.  I wondered if this would be the case with Steven? What ever happened now, I wanted it to be real, authentic and the absolute truth.  I was not about to coach him in answering questions from the judge.  There was a loud cheer when this was all over, and the two young girls hugged their new parents who returned with affection and love.

We were called up to the judge and stood in a straight line in front of him.  I was at the left, Steven next between Evelyn and myself and finally Mac Redmann.  The judge greeted Mac in such a way it was obvious they had some dealings before.  Then Mac introduced all the rest of us to the judge.  The judge asked Mac to summarize what we were here for today and this took about 15 minutes, but I do have to say, it was thorough and left nothing to the imagination.  I was worried when the discussion about Evelyn having AIDS came up since I knew Steven did not know about this.  It seemed to go right over his head or at least he did not react to this information at all.

The judge then talked to Evelyn making sure it was her wish and that no one had coerced or paid her for any part of this.  It had to be her final decision without anything or anyone getting in the way.  This took another 10 minutes.  The judge then called for the court reporter to come into his chambers with Steven.  I thought this was odd since I had not been called upon or questioned in any way yet.  While they were in chambers, I asked Mac if this was unusual and if so, did she think it was detrimental to the action.  For the first time, all I got out her was a shrug of the shoulders and a very quiet, "All we can do is wait and see."

25 minutes later Steven came out of the chambers with the Judge and court reporter.  He ran up to me and told me that the court reporter was taking notes in a funny kind of writing.  He chuckled as he said this.  The judge called the room back to order and then asked me several questions about my upbringing and background.  None were intrusive and nothing was intimidating so I just answered with all the information I had.  I did think it was strange that I was not asked about my family.

The judge did not seem to be in a good mood.  He indicated how unusual and troubling this matter was.  He returned to Mac Redmann and asked about Social Services and their input.  Since it was not a Social Services case, all Mac could answer was the facts about Steven's past record with them and in the group home.  This did not put him in any better mood. Finally, it was time to end this and in a rather lengthy and disturbing speech that had to do with the abnormalities of this case in society, he ruled that Steven was to have his parental rights assigned to me for a period of three months when it would all be reassessed.  It was clear that he did not like this at all, as it went against his better judgement.  Due to Evelyn's illness, there was a codicil that if she was to pass away before the next meeting, then the reassessment was to happen as soon after the death as possible.  He registered a future date for our next court date and then signed all the papers and handed them to Mac.  She did a quick look over them and then thanked the judge saying she would see him again in three months. Steven looked up to me and asked, "Are you my dad now?"  All I could do was grab him and give him a big hug with my eyes watering.

By this time Steven was antsy and I cannot say I blamed him.  We left the court room and headed outside where I had seen a Cheesecake Café.  We sat down and ordered all sorts of food and drinks.  I think Steven's eyes were stretched to maximum when it all arrived.  I could tell he wanted to taste everyone's food. After just a coffee, it was obvious that Evelyn was not feeling up to the celebration, so she excused herself, and left the café.  Steven gave his mom a hug which was not really returned with much affection.  I could see tears welling up in her eyes.  The rest of us celebrated for the next hour and then went our separate ways.

When we got home, I sent Steven to his room to change into something less formal.  I did the same.  When we came back together, we sat on the couch in the living room and I asked him if he had any questions about what had happened today.  He thought for a minute and then asked if he was still going to see his mom.  I answered that I was not going to stop this, but it would be up to her.  I still wanted Evelyn to be a part of his life for as long as both of them wanted it.  

I took Steven to the park where we kicked around the soccer ball and played Frisbee until it was time for dinner.  After dinner we watched a TV show about animals in China.  At the end of this, it was obvious that he was getting tired, so I sent him to have a shower and get his pajamas on.  When he came back, I noticed that his hair was all combed neat and tidy. I congratulated him on the great job then took him to his room where I read him a story about a big red dog, tucked him in, kissed him on the forehead and told him I loved him.  By the time I turned out the lights, I think he was already asleep.  An hour later I lay on my bed and fell right to sleep.

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Harold Daw
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