After we initially said “yes” to our girls, there was a little wiggle room in terms of the transition schedule. We decided to meet them at their house where they were most comfortable. We planned to have dinner and spend some time just getting to know them and their foster parents.
I was incredibly nervous as I was getting ready for that evening, and as we pulled into their neighborhood, Dustin and I grabbed hands and prayed one last prayer together.
“Help us connect with them.”
When the door opened, the girls were excited. (They still get super riled up when we have guests over.) Their foster dad (K) and foster mom (S) greeted us, and we were off – playing and interacting with the kids who are today our girls. We ate spaghetti and attempted to play a game together. We watched them dress-up and dance to the music from Frozen. I braided their hair. We took a tour of their home as they talked about their toys and clothes and beds. We took a few pictures together.
They called us “Mom” and “Dad” immediately, which was not something I was expecting at all and was in no way indicative of their understanding of what was happening. In fact, the girls didn’t know why we were there. They didn’t know the plan yet. As far as they knew, we were just safe adults, and safe adults were called Mom and Dad.
It was precious and confusing and heartbreaking all at once. Mom and Dad should not be fluid concepts for kids. Mom and Dad should be specific people who have been there from the beginning. They should be steady and present. They should be trustworthy. They should be permanent.
But the “shoulds” were left behind a long time ago, and this 3 and 4-year-old girl were working within a new reality – a reality in which they adjusted and adapted based upon circumstances that were thrown at them. Somehow, they were still so sweet and happy and full of life. And these girls, who loved their home and their family, had no idea how much their life was about to change.
Even today, I know I can’t fully understand the sadness and fear they must have felt as life changed, once again, forever.
After all of the activities, it was the girls’ bedtime. K & S asked if we wanted to do the bedtime routine, which seemed a little crazy since we had just met them a couple of hours prior to this. And while it seemed odd, we figured we’d be doing it soon enough anyway. So we went upstairs with them.
They knew what to do. Brush teeth. Put on pajamas. Sing songs. Read stories. Pray together. We rocked them both. It was a sweet night that I’ll always remember.
We came downstairs, and asked S & K lots of questions, as many as we could think of. Those questions didn’t even scratch the surface of the things we’d end up needing to know about the girls. They had a whole life established that we were coming into and disrupting in a major way.
There were basic questions: What did they like to eat? What time did they wake up? What were their favorite books and toys? When were their birthdays?
And there were deeper questions – about their first few years of life, their parents, their extended family, their future. There were so many unknowns. How could we possibly catch up this quickly?
So, after plenty of questions it was time for us to leave. We said goodbye to S & K, made plans to see the girls again the next week, and headed home.
When the girls talk about that night or about how we became a family, they don’t remember it very well. So we explain it like this:
“God knew that we were waiting to be a mom and dad of two special little girls. And he knew that you, two special little girls, needed a mom and dad that would keep you safe and give you all of the time, attention, and love that you need. So when S & K realized that everyone needed something different, Miss Caseworker called us and told us about you. We told her – yes! We want to meet them! We’ve been waiting for them!”
And that simple explanation is best way I know how to say it. We had been waiting for them.