It seems that sometimes all you can do is go on about your business. I would wait and wait for these hearings to take place, mistakenly thinking there would be some sort of resolution. An outcome. But there never was. Just more waiting. Day after day the routines continued. Getting children up for school or daycare, make breakfast and then get everyone delivered and finally it’s off to work.
Until one day when the telephone rang at my office and it wasn’t a client. It was Hilary and Steve was there too on the extension. I hadn’t heard from Hilary since the termination of parental rights hearing a couple of months ago. Hilary explained that she and Steve had been talking a lot about the kids and wondering what would happen to them. I could hear Hilary’s words sticking in her throat. Tears were traveling where words had wanted to go. Finally in a hushed and tearful voice she asked,
“Will you please adopt Maggie and Hunter? We know that you love them and have taken such good care of them. We know you’ll give them both a good life.”
She waited for my response. It isn’t often that I can’t find the right words to say. This was one of those times. But after a moment I was able to reply.
“Hilary, Steve, thank you so much for thinking that we’d be good parents for the children. But you know, it isn’t our decision to make. As foster parents, we don’t get any say in the outcome for the kids that we care for. The department makes all of those decisions.”
Hilary and Steve didn’t know about the hearing last week or its outcome. They didn’t know about my testimony. I didn’t want to make things anymore difficult for them. I can’t imagine their grief. I continued,
“I can say that I’m very honored that you’d even consider us, much less ask us to be their parents. And I am more grateful than you can ever know that you’d choose us. Thank you both so much.”
After the call, I tried to put myself in Hilary’s shoes. Making the phone call to ask someone else to take your children. For me it would have been an excruciating call to make. My own tears began to fall as I imagined losing my own children like this.
By afternoon though I was refocused and had more paperwork well underway when another call came. This time from Sarah,the Department of Human Services Adoption worker. Sarah asked how the children were doing. I told her about Maggie’s appointments and that both children are busy playing with new kittens that were born on the farm. Sarah went on to tell me that a Pre-Adoptive family had been chosen for Maggie. She said that I’d be getting a call from them to arrange a short visit in our home so they could meet Maggie and play for a while. And she instructed me that if the initial visit went well that the Pre-Adoptive couple would begin weekend visits with Maggie immediately.
My mind was whirling. I realized that she hadn’t said anything about Hunter. For the past 15 months since we’d been originally asked to adopt him, I had been afraid to hope that one day we’d be able to adopt him. It had never been mentioned again. But then Sarah continued, (and I thought I could hear a smile in her voice.)
“I also wanted to ask if you and your husband would like to be Hunter’s Forever Family?”
“Oh my God, YES! We’d be honored to be his forever family.” My heart felt so full in that moment. It was as if I were in the delivery room and through the bustle of the doctor and the nurses, I could still hear that first baby cry.
I have absolutely no idea what else Sarah had to say. I just knew I had to call my husband and hug Hunter. I dialed my cell phone on the way out to my car. On the third ring, he answered.
“They called” I began, with tears still falling. “Sarah asked if we would be Hunter’s Forever Family.. and I said yes. I’m on my way to the daycare… can you come?”
I waited as impatiently as I’ve ever waited for anything, for my husband to arrive at the daycare. I wanted us to go together to welcome Hunter permanently into our family. Excitement was exuding from every pore as my husband rounded the corner in his truck. I met him with a huge hug and together we walked into the daycare. The director was in the front office and could tell by our expressions that something had happened. She followed us to Hunter’s daycare room. The children had just returned from the playground with dusty knees and fingers. I spotted Hunter across the room choosing a favorite ball from the toy bin. He turned toward us when I called out his name. His little round face lit up with excitement when he saw us. I ran toward him, scooping him up in my arms. My husband and I hugged him tightly. Hunter didn’t know there was anything special about this particular day. To him, it was just another day filled with balls and trucks and building blocks. I kissed his face over and over. Until he’d had enough of that and reached for my husband who was already prepared with a ball for the two of them to chase.
It would still be several weeks before the adoption hearing took place. We planned a gathering at our home for the afternoon of the adoption. Everyone came.. relatives, friends, neighbors and even the daycare staff. It had been a long journey. Now a new one is beginning for a Forever Family.