I received this on Valentine’s Day

I got this yesterday and can only hope I’ll stop crying by next week.

I Defied Her Rules

Some 28 years ago I went to visit a friend at her office.  She was Barrow’s only social worker back then. 

I got a chuckle when I noticed a yellow lined legal paper taped to the entrance of her office.

It was a hand written columnar sign-up sheet for interested persons who would like to become foster parents and adoptive parents. 

I was amused because the sign-up sheet was mostly bare.

To boot, it was scratch paper.

I took a pen and decided at that moment that I would fill in my name to every column she had prepared.

I recall the columns were:

Foster parents – boy or girl.

Foster parents, ages – infants to toddlers to teenagers.

Adoptive parents, ages – infants to toddlers to teenagers

Both categories also included options for multiple siblings to foster or to adopt.

I asked her, “Is this for real?”

I may have said, “Your solicitation efforts are futile.”

She warned me that it was an “official” State of Alaska solicitation.

I still laughed and defied her rule and I went on to placing my name in every column.

I left her office to return to mine.

Months went by until one day she called me crying.

A baby had been born.

Relinquished to the State of Alaska – Children & Youth Services.

She was stressed.

I remember her call was on a Friday near our closing hour.

She began to tell me that the mother did not want her.

The family had declined.

The father was not interested.

And now the doctors and nurses wanted her out of the hospital.

The Social Worker couldn’t take her home.

But the Social Worker had a list of people she could count on.

I don’t know how many she may have called. 

I know there were others on the list.

But she had called me.

She reminded me that I had written my name on that official paper.

We spoke that I could take care of her through the weekend.

But her words had touched me.

In fact, the then single girl had to call her boyfriend.

He freaked. He left for Anchorage.

By then, I had figured that I had been called to be this child’s parent.

I had no desire to be a foster parent.

But I also wanted to make a decision immediately that I would be the parent.

I did not want to first visit the child, look at her, and make a decision.

In my thinking, when this child was born, that child, no matter what the child looked like, or in what health condition she had, that child was going to be mine.

The Social Worker gave me a day to make a decision.

By night, my boyfriend was beyond reach.

By morning, I went to the hospital to pick-up my new baby.

The next day I flew to Anchorage with baby tucked in front of me.

I got in a cab, gave him the address and thanked God my boyfriend answered the door.

He said to me, “Are we getting married?”

I said yes!

Then the adoption process really began.

Within three months we were married.

Then it seemed as though the State of Alaska could proceed with the adoption.

But the Indian Child Welfare Act had to be followed.

The mother had 8 months from the birth of the child to change her mind.

Months went by until that 8th month passed.

My friend the Social Worker had another surprise.

Often times, the Courts address the not so pleasing cases.

But this one was scheduled on Valentine’s Day.

February 14, 1986,

Baby Girl Taalak became

Greta Kathrine Suvluuraq Stuermer.

Thank you my dear friend Elise Patkotak the Social Worker and Conrad Bagne, my pro-bono attorney, I’m still ever so grateful that you two made it possible!

Lots of Love, Sandra Stuermer