The rest of 2012 was spent switching over to our private agency, completing a new homestudy and training. In 2013, we began fundraising. We hadn’t really needed to fund raise before this point because we were mainly working through DFACS. Switching to a private agency meant we would be paying for this adoption. I will have a separate post about fundraising and what we tried and what I learned through that process.
The year 2013 was really marked by a LOT of waiting. Then, in August, our FL agency contacted us about a sibling group of three girls ages 2, 4, 6. We were thrilled. We heard about them on Thursday and waited for the okay from our agency. Friday found us frantically packing, pulling our kids out of school (it was the second day of school!), and driving down to FL to meet the girls.
We got down to FL around 9pm and got to meet the girls. The agency had paid for the older two to get their hair braided & beaded. They were a little timid, but so sweet. The workers talked to them and told them that we were good friends who were going to take care of them for awhile. They showed the girls pictures of us from our profile book to give them an idea of what our family was like. The middle girl wasn’t interested in photos. She asked our son to go play with her instead. I stayed with the workers and the older girl looking at the photos. My husband played with the kids for a little while and helped build rapport.
The girls went with us willingly and we got to our hotel around 11pm. Our agency was only able to reserve 2 rooms for us instead of one large one. Our plan was to have my husband take A & W in one room and I would take the girls in the other. Well, A would not stand for that. 🙂 She wanted to have a boys room and a girls room, she wasn’t going to miss out on anything.
My husband read the The Jesus Storybook Bible to all of us before bed. Everyone finally got in bed around midnight. We had no trouble getting everyone to sleep right away. It was like the first night with a new baby, though. Every sound woke me up. And I’d never slept in a room with so many girls with beaded hair! Everytime they moved, I heard the beads. 🙂
We had our hands full the next few days with 5 kids! We spent Saturday and Sunday bonding with the girls. We went to breakfast and swam in the hotel pool. We went to Target for toothbrushes and books. We went to the park and the mall. We played cards and watched TV and read books.
The girls especially loved my husband. So far, they had not had much of a father figure and they craved the male attention. They followed him everywhere.
Our two kids, A & W, were absolutely great with the girls. They loved having other kids to play with. They helped teach the girls and make sure we stuck together in public places. I could not have asked for them to do any better, they were truly selfless and loving towards the girls.
We read The Jesus Storybook Bible every night. It was fascinating to the girls. It was so different to us. They had never heard these stories before. They asked fun questions like, “Why are Eve and him naked?”
Monday was hard. And trying to write about it two years later makes me feel so distant. So, I pulled up our family blog which was written a few days after it happened. Its kind of detailed and raw, but gives so much insight into adoptive/foster kids, birth parents, adoptive parents, etc… Some of it was written by me and some by my husband, “C”.
“This is the day that we knew we had to meet the girls’ birthmother. She had some questions for us, and we wanted to reassure her. When a birthmom places her baby/children for adoption in Florida, she has 72 hours to change her mind. We thought that Monday was the end of the 72 hours, but found out that legally it was 72 hours in business days…which meant she had till Wednesday around noon. This day turned out to be full of surprises.
While waiting to go see the girls’ mother, we headed to the local mall for some air conditioned fun. We played at the play area and ate lunch. We walked around a little bit, but we weren’t brave enough to venture in any store with 5 kids. 🙂
First was the indoor playground. Uh Oh. You have to be a short kindergartner to be allowed to play. We had 2 kids play and 3 kids walk around as “helpers”. This playground had a fake tree with slides (2 feet off the ground), a tire, a volcano, and a bridge. It was amazingly well decorated. For the most part, everyone behaved extremely well and we had almost zero issues (dirty diapers don’t count). The oldest of the siblings wanted to walk on the edge of the bridge wall and jump off the top into the “river” below. First time (my husband, C) – “That’s not good idea, darling.” Second time – “I should have been clear the first time. We don’t want the little kids doing that, so let’s not climb on the wall of the bridge, ok?” Third time – “Come sit next to me and think about what I asked and the choice you decided”. She sat still (mostly) and was allowed to go play after a 60 second “timeout”. I figured this was no big deal and she’d go back to goofing off with the rest of them. Instead, she left the play area and sat on the ground in the mall to pout. I (C) followed her, sat next to her, and asked her what she was thinking about.
“You probably don’t want to be my friend anymore.”
I simply responded, “There is nothing you could ever do that would make me not want to be your friend or take care of you.”
The light bulb turned on and she was a new kid. Maybe this was the first time that unconditional love had been expressed to her or verbally communicated. We played a few rounds of “What if I did this?” and she got the picture.
We finished up at the play area and visited the water fountain in the middle of the mall. Someone (not C) thought giving coins to the kids to toss in the fountain was a good idea (horrible financial investment). It turned to be the most significant 4 cents we’ve ever spent (C cheated and picked one up out of the fountain). Most wished for something silly – like a pile of cheeseburgers or something. Then the middle sibling tossed her coin in and said as though she believed her wish would come true, “I wish I had a dad”. People start looking at you funny when you’re a grown man standing in the middle of the mall fighting back tears and the lump in your throat.
We arrived at the adoption agency, a little before 1:30pm. This is the first time we actually got to see the office and meet our workers face to face. It was so good. Everyone we met was so encouraging and supportive and really thrilled about the girls being with us. All the kids went to a different building to watch a movie. We went into the conference room. A little while later, the girls’ mother came in. We shook hands and sat down. One of the workers prayed over our meeting and we began.
This meeting was mainly for the mother to ask us questions. She was concerned about whether or not we would let her call the girls, send them gifts, visit, etc…. She didn’t want to be “cut off” from them. We reassured her the best we could and we agreed to sign something to make the agreement official. Then she asked if we loved her girls. C started to tear up, which means Joy lost it, too. He told her how the middle girl had wished for a dad when she threw her penny into the fountain. The whole room was in tears after that story…C, me, the mother, and our workers.
We had a turn to ask her a few questions about the girls’ likes and dislikes, health history, etc… She answered the questions and a few times indicated that some things would be up to us as the girls’ new parents. This seemed like a positive turn to us. The mother then went and spent some time with the girls in which she told them what was going on. During this time, the agency created the document about sending pictures/letters, phone calls, visits, etc…. We signed it, agreeing to ongoing contact with the mother.
When the mom came back in, she wouldn’t sign the ongoing contact form. She asked a few more questions and kept saying that she wanted to know that we would do what we said we would do. We tried to reassure her with various comments. But ultimately, it was as if she was looking for a sign or us to say some specific words to make it okay. The agency told her that she could take the form with her and sign it later.
The mother went back over with the children and she came back over with all the kids. A & W came too. We spent some time all together in the conference room (with workers close by). We thought that this was their way of letting her see the girls interact with us. By this time it was close to 5:00pm. To move things along, the agency told her it was just about time to close up the office.
The girls’ mother started to walk out holding the hand of the youngest and the middle girl began to follow. We panicked a little and our workers suggested we all walk out together and then say good-bye and get in our van. The two oldest girls said good-bye and got in the van with us. The middle said she wanted to stay with her mom (natural for a four year old), but came with us anyway. The oldest was excited to come with us.
When C walked outside, the youngest wouldn’t go to her mother – instead she went and sat by herself. C went and scooped her up as he had all weekend. You would have thought he was carrying a fish. She jumped and squirmed. C put her down and she went off again to pout by herself.
If that wasn’t difficult enough…
The mom had a sudden change of heart and asked to sign the re-sending order. She wanted to take the girls home with her. We were devastated. A and Joy began crying and C tried to talk to the oldest girl. She was so so sad. She really wanted to stay with us. C told her that she didn’t do anything wrong, that her mom had changed her mind. He reminded the oldest that he would always be her friend and nothing could make him not want to care for her. She let C carry her over to her mom’s van while they both cried. He set her down in front of her mom, but when her mom asked if she wanted to go with her, she gave a shy shake of the head, no. The mom couldn’t believe it. She said her girls had never been like that before with anyone. Joy let her know it was because the oldest loved C so much, and he was an amazing dad. She said she was sorry. The girls got buckled into her van and she prepared to leave.
C walked over to the van and sat on the edge and began weeping. A and Joy were crying too. W tried to take it all in. It hurt so much. One of the workers took us into the office and prayed over us again. We went back to our hotel, tried to eat, cried some more, and went to bed fairly early out of exhaustion.”
Our story STILL isn’t over! I thought I could write it all in two days, but it may take one or two more. Thanks for sticking around and stay tuned!