I’ve been in a happy shock, as well as a whirling-dervish of childproofing and preparation. We’ve met our kids! It’s been a blur, but here are the high points.
The same week we celebrated freedom from bondage at Passover and new life at Easter, we met the nearly-two-year-old boy and nearly-five-year-old girl who have been matched with us. More surreal than any date, we went to a foster house about 30 minutes from here, and were introduced to these kids. How strange is it to not know someone who’ll likely live with us until adulthood, and know us the rest of our lives! I was excited, and terrified. Afraid I wouldn’t like them (let alone love them), or that that something would change our incredible luck. I was worried they’d be indifferent, hostile, or, I don’t know what I thought.
The social worker had an elaborate plan that we were to pretend we were just “visiting the house,” and give each all the children in the house equal attention, not just focus on the kids we’d been matched with. But as soon as we walked through the door and another little girl was talking to us, this social worker said “No sweetie, you’re going with (two other men who are adopting her), these guys are here for (our kids’ names).” So much for subterfuge!
We talked to the kids, and played, and the little girl was worried that it was “just us” — her friend is being adopted by a family with several other kids, and she’s lived in group situations much of her life, so the prospect of new parents showing up with no additional siblings scared her. Thinking fast, our social worker decided the kids should come to our Easter egg coloring party we were giving for the neighbor kids, so she’d see we have a big extended family and friendly, egg-loving neighbors.
Great plan, except it was two days away, our house had not had the final childproofing or inspections, we didn’t have carseats. Then we needed a crib (we didn’t know we’d have that young a child) and about a million other things to feel “ready” for a visit. Thankfully our friends pitched in, and while I can’t remember the brunch, I’m told the shellshocked look in our eyes was quite entertaining. I hope someone has photos ’cause I barely have memories of it.
Now we’ve had maybe 6 whole-day visits. With younger kids it’s important to have frequent contact so they start getting used to us. The plan is 3 visits a week until they’re ready to overnight (probably within a week) and then move in (probably in May?)
We’ve both taken a lot of time off work, made plans for parental leave, and figured out how to use scrunchies for ponytails. Sorta. Purchase a stylish diaper bag (and remember all the things that are supposed to go in it). Locate the nearest Chuck E Cheese. There’s been panic and exhaustion, but I have to say it’s the preparation and unknowns that are stressful. Spending time with the kids is a pleasure.
I realize I’m so different from my younger self. I trust my instincts and know I can handle an emergency. Jay and I are able to take turns playing bad cop, big bunny, or whatever’s called for. We must be coordinating, but I have to say it feels wonderfully spontaneous. It’s like we’re making it all up as we go along, and not doing too bad so far.
There’s so much to learn about the kids. I’ll write more about them later, though their identity is protected as members of California’s foster care system. (Friends, please don’t use their names or post any photos anywhere public including Facebook).
But I can say without reservation they’re sparkly, bright lights, which is amazing considering they’ve not had a great shake so far. We’re very lucky they’ve not had the intense trauma some kids have gone through. But they’ve also not had the life they deserved, and we hope we can start giving it to them right now.