John, Sara Beth, Callum, Haley, Kobe, and Samuel

John, Sara Beth, Callum, Haley, Kobe, and Samuel

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oh Happy Rainey Day!-- An Adoption Journey

I had Kobe in April of 2002 and for almost ten years I have been the only custodial parent (according to the State of  Alabama) in his life. Anyone who knows us or has ever been remotely around us knows that Kobe has had another custodial parent in his life since November of 2005 ...and his name is...John. John and I met well before November of 2005 and had hung out and became acquaintances and he had also met and began to adore Kobe. We finally decided to date in November of 2005 and then every single day was spent with John playing in the floor of Kobe's room with dinosaurs and Hot Wheels. Kobe would go where ever John went and wanted to do whatever John did. John loved and adored Kobe and Kobe felt the same right back at John. After we were married we had gone to visit my father in law and over dinner one night Kobe told him that he sure wished he could be a Rainey too. My sweet father in law looked at him and said, "Well, you look like a Rainey to me! So, there you are a Rainey!". We enjoyed our trip with him and that must have really sunk in to Kobe because that first day back to school after our trip I got a call from the Principal's office asking me if Kobe had been adopted. I answered that he had not and he told me that Kobe went to school (1st grade) and told everyone that he had changed his name to Rainey and wanted his teacher to call his name as such! I thought it was sweet but didn't really make a big deal out of it and just let Kobe know that his name had not changed and he would need to continue going by "McCollum" at school.

That must have bugged him because at the end of the second grade he began to ask us some really tough questions, that quite honestly, I wasn't really ready to answer. John and I decided that we would answer all of his questions honestly but on his level and that we would leave out all the ugly details. So, one night after church while sitting on our front porch he asked us to make him a Rainey. It took a couple of months to get everything together and when it was time I filed the paperwork.

On July 24th, 2010 I walked into our attorney's office and filed necessary paperwork to began an adoption. The child already lived with me. It seemed strange to "fight" for what I already had but I was willing to pay whatever price and do whatever I had to to insure this child's safety and well being.

I won't go into all of the details but it started off with what seemed like a fairly easy and straight forward case and ended up as anything but that...but I wouldn't have it any other way. We had to serve Kobe's natural father (court's terminology) by way of publication. We tried having him served several times but I wasn't sure of where he lived and had zero contact information so each time it came back to us. The court ruled that we were to notify him by publication. We placed an ad in the local paper and it ran for a month. We then went back to court...where I came face to face with Kobe's natural father for the first time in a very long time. I guess about 9 years. It was shocking to me. I felt a lot of anger stir up inside me because of some of the things that I had gone through as a single mom (before John). Immediately I began to pray and the Lord told me that it was all OK and that I needed to forgive him. After our court hearing that day we ended up in a private (off the record in the court room) conversation (my attorney was present). I was able to look him in the face and tell him whatever was on my mind. I had practiced for this moment for almost a decade. I was more than prepared. I had screamed out in anger and disappointment and hurt many,many times and I had thought up hundreds of conversations that I would have with him and things I would say one day. I have to say, it is true that God makes everything new. I am a new person. I couldn't say those things. They didn't really even come to mind. I looked him in the eyes and asked for his forgiveness. I apologized to him and I immediately felt like I was on cloud nine. Although, I was shocked to see him there, I am so glad that God made a divine appointment for me to be able to walk in forgiveness.

Over the next few months we would go through sessions with an attorney we were required to hire for Kobe (an attorney to look out for his best interest), court sessions, and more appointments with our attorneys. It seemed so long and on going but I knew that eventually we would see an end. We finally had a hearing in December where we were to testify and give our accounts of "the true story" of what was my life. I was there early and a little nervous. I wasn't nervous about telling the truth or speaking out loud but I was nervous that I would cry. Some of the things that I was being asked and some of my testimony was hard to get through. Some things just aren't always pretty. I prayed for boldness and confidence... and God gave them to me! Our friends Lori and Aaron came to support us along with my parents, our pastors (Pastors Bill and Deanna), and Charles and Jan Curtis (a spiritual father and mother to us). We all prayed before court began and I went in to give my testimony. John was called in to speak about his desire to adopt Kobe and tell snippets about their relationship. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be... Kobe's natural father did not come back to court that day. A week or so later we were informed that Kobe's natural father's rights had been terminated. That meant that we could move forward with adoption.

Tuesday, February 28th we had court and in that court room the judge said that he saw it in Kobe's best interest for John to adopt him. John has always been referred to as "dad" by Kobe and has always had a father/son relationship with Kobe. So, this was really just to make it legal because the relationship was already there. The judge ordered our adoption final and we are waiting for Kobe's new birth certificate any day now. His name was changed to Kobe Rainey. His legal name is Kobe Isaiah Dale McCollum Rainey. We chose to keep McCollum in there because that has been his identity his whole life and has sentimental value with our family. He has been asking me for months when he can start writing his name as "Kobe Rainey" at school. I have had to tell him "not now" so many times that I couldn't wait to see him on Tuesday to tell him the news. I have found notebook paper where he has been practicing writing his "new" name! I explained to him what had happened that day and he just looked at me and said, "So, nothing is really changing...just my last name?". I cried. It is true. Nothing changed. John has always stepped up to be his dad and will continue in that role. John is called dad by him and he is called son by John. It is just legal now. I am so happy that this journey is behind us. I have prayed and waited on this day to come for so long and now that it is here ... it almost seems unreal. I can't wait to get our order from the court so that I have it in physical form!

Everything stayed the same. The sense of family. The father/son relationship. The laughing together. The hanging out together. Except...Kobe now has a dad on paper that has been and is there for every single game, every single scrape or cut, every doctor's appointment, every practice, and every single day. Kobe is now a Rainey.

After running in the McBride Mile together

After an early morning run... 2 miles!


  1. That was truly beautiful, Sara Beth. Thank you for sharing your journey and congratulations to the WHOLE Rainey family. ((HUGS))

  2. This just made me cry! What a beautiful beautiful story, my heart is so happy that the Lord has literally brought John into your life to be not only your husband but Kobes daddy. God knew your sweet boys heart and his need to have a daddy. It reminds me of that verse in Revelations of how God gives us each a new name :-)
    thank you for sharing part of your story!


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