On June 13th, I was in an appointment with Josie when my cell phone rang. We’d seen some information on a 10 month old boy a few weeks before and it was about the right time for the birth parents to make a decision. As soon as I could, I stepped out to check my voicemail. It was, indeed, the case worker from the agency, and she asked me to call her back.
Then my phone crashed and spent five minutes shutting down and restarting.
Finally, I was able to call and, yes, we’d been picked. I cheered and cried and skipped down the sidewalk, kissing strangers. Then I bought a bouquet of flowers and handed one to every person I met and I wished them a good day filled with rainbows and puppies and bunnies. Okay, not really, but I felt like doing all of those things. Instead I called Paul and got his voicemail. Super anti-climactic.
We didn’t know much about little K. We knew he had chubby cheeks that hinted at dimples, an adorable afro and hefty thighs with creases you could lose change into. He was up to date on his vaccinations and had been pronounced healthy by the agency’s pediatrician. He was developmentally on track and at 10.5 months he’d taken eight consecutive steps (OMG where are the baby gates?). He’d been in foster care for two months and had become quite attached to the foster parents. He was perfect.
I printed a picture for Josie. She carried it, folded it, loved it, slept with it and, eventually chewed on it. She brought it to show-and-tell at school and it sat with us at the dinner table. There was a lot of discussion about who his parents were, what he ate, and when he was, or wasn’t sleeping. One night I caught her whispering to it, “don’t worry baby, my mommy and daddy will be there soon. It will be okay.”
We had two weeks from the call before we traveled to Texas, then a week of transition before we brought him home.
The chaos began immediately. There was the paperwork, the calls with various social workers and pediatricians and agencies and the travel arrangements and the preparation for maternity leave. Oh, hello boss, CEO of a small business, I’m going on maternity leave in two weeks. Surprise! Bye! Of course, it wasn’t that easy, it involved training of a new person, preparation and even a few spreadsheets.
Then there was the stuff I wanted to get done for the book, then there was the blog, oh, well, the blog… You’ve seen how well that has worked out, but do not fear, I have some exciting posts lined up.
Then there was the BABY! There was the upending of the garage and me muttering about baby bottles, nipple flow levels, onesies, baby carriers, socks, shoes, crib set up and furniture re-arranging. Then there was the Josie preparation. My mom was coming to stay with her and there was food and schedules and another spreadsheet.
Then there was the panicked night-waking – OMG attachment disorders, we’re going to ruin our lives! OMG fetal alcohol syndrome! OMG a second child, what are we thinking! Then there was the buying of the attachment book and staying up late at night to read it and there were more calls to pediatricians and a lot of pacing and not sleeping and breath-holding.
Finally, there was travel. We arrived in Texas on the 21st and went to the agency the next day. We were settling into a couch in a big room when the foster mother walked in with K. He was everything they’d said he was. Healthy. Cute. He was attached to the foster mother, but friendly and social. After a few minutes, we were on the floor playing with a crinkly, shiny bag and a giant, stuffed, Cat in the Hat.
We left our first 2 hour meeting completely exhausted wrecks but utterly satisfied and hopeful that this was going to work out just fine.
And, after that, there was a big exhale, a giant nap, a little bit of letting go and a new kind of holding on.
To be continued…