10.18.2017

life update: match.



We met our girls 27 days ago, at a picnic for older foster children and foster families hoping to adopt. They were dancing in a sea of sunshine and bubbles...a scene so sweet it was quite literally like a movie moment. 

Until that moment, they'd been two grainy photos on a one page document listing somewhat impersonal facts about their background and time in foster care. It would have been easy to flip right past their profile…we couldn’t even make out their faces. But in that moment last month, there they were: leaping into my real life, anything but dull or grainy. They were the most beautiful, vibrant girls I could have imagined. You couldn't flip past them if you tried. 

We attempted to play it cool at the picnic that day, taking up spots near the bubble machine that had transfixed them and then convincing them to join a group parachute activity a few feet away. They dashed under the floaty nylon parachute while it softly fell, and then right at the last moment, darted back out into the sunshine and bubbles. Over and over again they played this game, giggling harder if we trapped them underneath the cool, cave-like shade just long enough for the falling parachute to tickle the top of their braids. My face hurt from laughing; my arms ached from lifting the parachute up and down. I caught Gabe's eye, shifted my head towards the girls and mouthed "My heart!”. He smiled wryly, and mouthed back, "I know, I know..."

This is his classic response when I'm emotionally 40 miles down the track, but the train bound for reality hasn't even left the station. Nothing is ever quick, easy, or guaranteed in foster care, and chugging so quickly down that emotional track can lead to heartbreak. Even if our hearts were melting right there, watching the girls play in the sunshine, it didn't mean we were the perfect family for them. 

Ever since that day, I've held my breath. Through countless texts and emails to our social worker, hundreds of miles and numerous hours driving to meetings....we held our breath. At first being fully read in on the girls' file, then asking more questions, and finally sending our official decision. Yes, we wanted to foster and, if the case continues as projected, adopt the girls. But, even then, we needed to wait to hear if the girls' social worker wanted to move forward with us.

"It's not about you," I reminded myself during the few days we waited for a decision. "It's about the girls. They need the right family for them. Maybe it's us, maybe it's not."

Last week, we got the news: "Congratulations!", our social worker texted. It was an official match! There were so many happy tears as I called my parents to tell them they were officially grandparents, and my sister to tell her she was an auntie.

A few days ago we met the girls one-on-one for the first time, playing in a park and beginning to bond. This weekend we have a full day visit and are able to take them out for the day...just the four of us. Like a normal family. Our social workers have us planning to transition the girls to our home in the next month. Adoption is the distant goal, but there are many benchmarks to reach before it can be possible and there's no standard timeline. It can take months or years.

And so, right now, we’re focusing on the present:

Our girls are 5 and 8. They are funny and fierce and precious. They love pink, and stuffed animals, and the Trolls movie. They want piggyback rides and can't get enough pizza. The littlest's free spirit and friendly nature will brighten your day, and the oldest's dry humor and deadpan comments will make you belly laugh. In so many ways, they are just like their kindergarten and second grade peers.

And yet life has been unfair to them, and demanded they be stronger than a child should ever have to be. For them, there are moments of frustration while grappling with loss and change. For them, the world has never been stable and adults haven't always been people you trust. They're still learning to untangle and express these big feelings in a healthy way.

But, despite it all they are vivacious and big hearted and joyful. They are little miracles.

And, now that we're in the thick of it all...I'm reminded that foster care and adoption are this beautiful, messy, tricky dichotomy. On one hand, you're required to envision a life where these little beings will be with you forever. Just like every other parent, you envision kindergarten graduations, holidays, birthday parties, teaching them to ride a bike (and dear God, someday a car?), watching them get ready for prom, and dropping them off at college. Your whole heart has to be in it, because just like every other kid, they deserve that level of love and commitment. If they are with you forever, you want to remember being fully in it. Fully present. And yet on the other hand, there's the near daily reminder that you have no legal claim to these children. With the slightest change and no notice...they could just slip through your fingers and out of your life.

Somehow, you have to be okay with that. If I said I'd made peace with these mutually exclusive possibilities, I'd be the biggest liar you know.

But, regardless of how this ends...I am lucky. My husband is lucky. Our families are lucky.

We will all be lucky to get to love these girls, no matter how long they are ours.

16 comments:

  1. So much love to you and Gabe as you begin this journey. I'm so glad you're sharing your thoughts and excitement! I'll be thinking of all four of you.

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    1. Thank you so much, Taurie, for your love and kind thoughts!! We are beyond excited.

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  2. I already commented on your Instagram post but after reading this I have to comment on here too. It makes me so happy for you! Foster/adoption is an amazing thing and you will be truly blessed through it! I have 3 adopted siblings and am so thankfully they are in my life. Can't wait to keep reading about your sweet girls and your journey!

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    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement! It brings me a lot of hope and joy to hear from families who have walked through fostering and adoption. We know there will be tricky days, but also know that the joyful ones will outweigh the tough ones. Thank you for reading and sharing how adoption has touched your life! :)

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  3. This is so, so, beautiful and I am beyond happy for you, no matter what happens in the coming months and years!

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    1. Aww, thank you Betsy. Thank you for always being so positive and supportive about this journey! You are the best.

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  4. How beautiful. Sending your little family the best vibes and congratulations. Such an exciting time and right before the holidays, these little ones are so blessed!

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    1. Thank you so much, Andi! Haha, we keep saying, "CHRISTMAS! Christmas will be so different!!". We are very excited, and looking forward to everything ahead!

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  5. What an amazing blessing you all will be in their lives, no matter the length. Congratulations!!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Claire! I have loved seeing your little ones grow over the years, and now am excited to get to experience it, too! We are over the moon! :)

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  6. Replies
    1. Aww, yay! Dad, you will love them so much.

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  7. Very happy for you and Gabe. This is so exciting! Your parents are beyond ecstatic. I will pray that God blesses your new family. ♥️

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    1. Thank you so much, Sara! I think my parents almost burst trying not to say anything over the past 3 weeks as things progressed. Haha. You know how all consuming the excitement of being a grandparent is! Thank you for the well wishes, and for sharing my parents' joy with them! :)

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  8. I haven’t read the post yet but I’m happy your back! Just saw on Facebook that you posted and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m going to read it tomorrow over breakfast! Yay!!!!

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