‹ Prequel: Infinite

Summer Boy

Outcome

We funneled into the court room, filing between the benches down to the front like we were on trial. Last time we’d been in front of Judge Fenway, we’d sat across a conference table from Abigail and listened to her repent and cry over losing Arch. Ultimately she’d convinced this same judge that she was stable enough for visitation and it had ended horribly. But ultimately, those decisions led us right down to this outcome. Now Abigail sat in the front row of benches in the gallery and watched the back of our heads. Ronnie carried Arch into the room, moving him past Abigail without so much as a glance back. The six year old had his own seat at the front table with me, and Ronnie set him down beside me before moving to the bench behind us.

Ms. Lyla sat beside Ronnie, and Arch’s previous lawyer, Mr. Russo, joined us. He would continue to act as Arch’s Court Appointed Special Advocate and speak to what was in the best interest of the child. He smiled at Arch affectionately as he sat down beside him. “I’m so happy today’s finally come,” he said, sitting down with Arch between us. “This hearing should go very smoothly, and you’ll be walking out of here together for the last time.”

The rest of our group slid in beside Ronnie and Ms. Lyla behind the bar, and we all rose to our feet when Judge Fenway stepped into the room. I pulled Arch up from the chair, holding onto his hand as he watched nervously. He turned slightly, eyes scanning the room behind him. I watched him smile as he found Ronnie right behind us, then we all sat down at the bailiff’s order.

Judge Fenway looked almost exactly the same as he had a year ago. He scanned the papers laying in front of him, lifting one from the bench to read it more in-depth. “We’re here to finalize the adoption of five year old Arch Drewry by Ms. Atticus Gurewitz.”

Mr. Russo, still standing, nodded. “Yes, your honor. My name is Jackson Russo, Arch’s C.A.S.A. Young Mr. Drewry is in court with us here today, and I’d like to reintroduce you to Ms. Gurewitz, Arch’s mother.”

Judge Fenway nodded. “Reviewing the case, I see that we previously were working toward reunification of the child with his birth-mother, Abigail Drewry; however, three months ago it was deemed in the best interest of the child to be placed for adoption, correct?”

“Yes, your honor,” Mr. Russo repeated.

“In a prior hearing we established that the revocation period expired 30 days after the birth-mother relinquished custody,” Judge Fenway continued, looking at the paperwork in front of him. "The birth-father passed away prior." The revocation period had been contested the last time we were in court with Abigail, when she claimed that she had unwittingly relinquished custody over the child. Judge Fenway had concluded that she did so willingly, thus had 30 days to change her mind.

“Yes, your honor,” Mr. Russo said again. The judge took another quiet few minutes to review the last minute details on paper. It had been months of paperwork and hearings, and lots of hoops to jump through and boxes to check. We had jumped on this opportunity the second Arch became free for adoption, so Mr. Russo had gone through everything prior to this hearing to make sure everything was correct. And now Judge Fenway was double-checking all those boxes.

“All right,” Judge Fenway said, smiling as he looked up and set the papers down. He asked me and Arch to stand as he swore me into the court, then he looked directly at Mr. Russo. “Sir, please have the Ms. Gurewitz introduce herself.”

I smiled, lightly taking Arch’s hand in mine, and stood at Mr. Russo’s nod. “Hello, your honor. I’m very pleased to finally be here today. As you know, my name is Atticus Gurewitz. Arch and I live right here in the city, and I work for a Epitaph Records, a company that signs and produces indie, rock, and alternative bands from all over.”

The judge nodded and glanced down at his bench, no-doubt checking my file. “I understand that your family is fairly prominent in L.A.,” he said as he looked up with eyebrows raised. “How is that?”

I smiled politely, somewhat surprised that this court was interested in my father’s legacy. “Yes, your honor,” I started. “My father is Brett Gurewitz, the lead guitarist of Bad Religion, if you’re familiar with the band. He’s also the founder and CEO of Epitaph.”

“Very interesting,” the Judge concluded genuinely, moving on.

Mr. Russo spoke in his place, asking me to testify that on a more serious note that I was fully aware of what was being asked of me in taking Arch as my own child and still wished for this adoption to be finalized here today. Mr. Russo, working as an arm of the court, reminded me that adoption was a permanent decision, and our relationship as parent and child would be permanent and legally established.

“After finalization, the responsibility of the child falls entirely on you, Ms. Gurewitz. You are responsible for his health and well-being, education, shelter, food, happiness, and everything else that comes with being a parent. As a single-parent, as seen by the court, the decisions of his care-taking are entirely your responsibility. After finalization, you are legally and officially parent and child.”

“I understand,” I answered in anticipation, “and I definitely wish to continue.”

Even though Arch was too young to speak for himself, Russo playfully turned to Arch and addressed him. “Mr. Drewry,” Mr. Russo started, grinning at the boy. “How excited are you to legally have Atticus as your mom?”

Arch sat on his knees on the chair and grinned at the familiar lawyer. “All the excitement!” Arch replied, looking from Mr. Russo to Judge Fenway.

“And what’s your favorite part of having Atticus for a mom?” Russo questioned.

Arch grinned, resting his elbows on the table in front of us. He glanced at me before he spoke and then looked up to the gabled ceiling, too bashful to meet their eyes. “Having a baby brother,” he said timidly, looking away from the two officials and back to me as my jaw dropped.



“Sascha’s your favorite?” I laughed in surprised, reaching out to pretend to tickle the boy.

He grinned so wide I could see his cheeks hurting and jerked away from me in anticipation.

“All right, Mr. Arch,” Mr. Russo concluded, turning back to the judge. “Thank you very much. You’ve done very well today.”

I ran my hand comfortingly along Arch’s back and he sat back in his chair, pulling away from the table in front of us. He grinned at me too, with a hint of pride creeping back in. We’d tried to prepare him for today too, and he’d waited on edge to be able to play his part in the hearing. He did so well, and I was so proud of himself for showing his personality to the judge.

“I’m very happy to say,” Judge Fenway began, calling our attention back to him, “that you two look like a great family. These moments are always the best part of this position, and I can see that you two are very fond of each other.”

I nodded, and Arch looked to me to see what he should do, and then began nodding too. The judge asked a couple of friendly questions about our history together – how long we had known each other and what we enjoyed doing together – and then folded his fingers together and leaned back in his chair. “I can clearly see that your intention is to provide Arch with a loving home, Ms. Gurewitz,” he said, “and I’m very lucky to say here today that I’m going to sign this finalization paperwork and you will be leaving here today as mother and son.”

Arch beamed up at me and climbed to his feet on the chair so that he could throw himself into my arms. I knew the outcome would be favorable and yet I couldn’t help but feel just as relieved as my son as I lifted his feet from the chair and held him to me. He wrapped his arms and legs around me, and we both turned into Ronnie as he stepped up behind us and pulled us to him across the bar.

“Congratulations,” Ronnie whispered to us, releasing us quickly as the judge began shuffling papers on the bench. “I love you both,” Ronnie said.

Arch and I smiled and faced the judge, watching as he signed the paperwork to make us a legal family. Behind us, Heather was busy taking pictures, and when I glanced back I quickly looked away to keep her tears from bringing mine on as well.

The judge invited us up for a photo with him and the certificate, and then the rest of the family joined us. Arch slid into Ronnie’s arms and the three of us stood together, the certificate in my hands. At that moment, I wished that Sascha were here to be in these photographs. I wanted the boys as involved with each other as possible, and this was one of the biggest moments of Arch’s life so far. As we stood for pictures, I looked out to the pew-like benches and found Abigail at the back of the room, sequestered in another woman’s arms as she cried. Even from here I could see the pregnancy, and I hoped that Arch wouldn’t notice today.

I wanted to apologize for her pain, but couldn’t find a way to do that without causing problems or making it seem like I was apologizing for making Arch my family. Instead, I turned my attention away as she cried for the loss of her biological child.

“Okay, Gurewitz family,” the judge began as he climbed back up to the bench. “You have your certificate, but your lawyer will file this paperwork and you will be issued a new birth certificate, young man,” he said to Arch, glancing to me to make sure I was aware.

I nodded.

“Additionally, Ms. Gurewitz, you can have your son’s social security number reissued, or you can contact the office and have the current number updated to reflect these changes. After today you will be registered as the child’s natural parent, and the social security office needs to reflect these changes. I recommend doing this in the next few days.”

“Of course, your honor.” I nodded adamantly.

“Okay,” he answered. “Arch, if you’ll come up here for a moment, we can make this official.”

Arch slithered out of Ronnie’s arms and hopped up the steps to the Judge’s bench, taking the older man’s hand as he got to the top. The judge pulled Arch onto his lap and handed him the gavel. “Go ahead and bang that right here, young man,” the judge said, pointing to the spot, “and this adoption will be complete.”

Ronnie moved to stand just in front of the bench and snapped picture after picture as Arch banged the gavel down as hard as he could, the sound reverberating through the room and marking everything as final. Arch grinned down at us as the judge poised for a picture, and then he helped Arch down.

The little boy raced into our arms, and Ronnie and I lifted him from the ground. The rest of the family had already moved back to the row of benches in the gallery, and with a round of thank yous, Ronnie, Arch, and I moved to join them. They submerged us in hugs and tears, and I sighed in defeat as Heather got me crying too.

“Congrats, mama!” she cheered, dragging me into her arms. “After three years, that nightmare fight is finally over!”

I smiled through the tears and looked out to see Arch and Ronnie together, surrounded by everyone else. I nodded to Heather, unable to even voice how relieved I felt after all of the paperwork and the tears. Nothing could come between Arch and I now, no one could tell me where to take my son or who to make him spend time with. Everything came down to me now, and even though that was a much heavier responsibility, I felt much lighter than even this morning.

“All right, all right, all right!” Ronnie called as we moved our group out to the hallway since the court had other hearings following ours. Everyone stopped on the marbled tile and looked to the man. He hoisted Arch up in his arms. “Okay, everyone. The three of us—“ he motioned to them and me, “—are heading home to pick up the baby, then we’re hosting a small family brunch at Wolf downtown. And by ‘small’,” he added quickly, “I mean Atticus’s parents, twenty-four siblings, and us.”

“Five!” I defended, shaking my head at his antics. “But please come if you’re able to. That invitation wholeheartedly extends to you Lyla and Mr. Russo. We wouldn’t be here today without either of you. You’re as much our family as everyone else.”

Ms. Lyla sidled closer and hugged me. “Unfortunately I’m working,” she said, “but if it’s possible, I would love to keep in touch with your family, Atticus. I’m very proud that you and Arch found each other, and I’m lucky to have been able to help you look after Arch until today.”

I pulled the woman close to me again, before leading her to Arch so they could say goodbye. Now that they were no longer bound by a professional relationship where she had to put what was best for him above what he wanted and remain detached in that way, I watched Ms. Lyla share in Arch’s joy. She hugged him wholeheartedly, and the four of us – Arch, Ronnie, Ms. Lyla, and I – took a photo together to commemorate four years of working together toward this end goal.

Our family separated at the front steps of the court house and each headed out to meet back later at the restaurant. Arch was glowing as we headed home to get Sascha, and he wouldn’t let go of the adoption certificate. Months and months ago, Arch had talked about changing his last name, and today I surprised him by giving him that. He’d wanted to take all the last names of the people he loved, and while that was too much to fit on official documents, I did give him my last name.

“Arch, baby, we’re not taking that to the restaurant,” I told him softly. “We don’t want it to get ruined. We can take a picture of it for now so you can show everyone until we can make you a copy.”

He accepted the alternative easily and handed the document to me over the back of the seat. We pulled into the back drive not too longer, and Arch took off into the house the second I unbuckled him from his seat. He threw the sliding glass door open and went to find his legal brother, excited more than anything to be officially related to the sibling he always wanted.

We found Chance and Sascha in the living room. Chance was laying on the couch in front of the TV and dropped his feet from the coffee table as we followed Arch in. Sascha was in his swing, which Chance had pulled right up to the side of the couch. I grinned at the sight, and at Arch kneeling beside his sleeping brother, and dropped down beside Chance.

“How did it go?” he asked excitedly.

“Officially my baby,” I answered, waving the document at him.

Ronnie pulled it from my hand before I could wrinkle it, and continued on into the kitchen. I heard his suit jacket scuff against the bar-stool, and I leaned into Chance’s side.

“I’m so happy for you,” Chance said, kissing the side of my head and looking to the blonde, who was still crouched on the floor by the baby swing. “When’s the lunch reservation?”

I glanced at the clock above the TV. “Hour and a half,” I replied, pressing myself up using his knee. “Which means you need to shower and get dressed while I do the same for Sascha.”

Chance grinned at the parallelism. “Of course,” he said, rocking himself up from the sofa. “I knew I brought nicer clothes for a reason.”

“Good idea not trusting the baby not to spit up on you,” I answered with a laugh, eyeing his t-shirt for any new spots and finding none. “When did you feed him last?” I questioned, cupping him in my arms and lifting him from the swing, eliciting much of Arch’s complaints.

“You, little boy,” I said pointedly, “also need to go change. You’re not wearing your suit to Wolf. I left a change of clothes out on your bed before we left, so hop to it.” I motioned him past me, then Chance too, and we all climbed the stairs to get ready for our lunch date with the entire family.
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Could really use some comments! Would love to know who is still interested in this series.