Sitting in our car in front of your current foster house, we knew it be different this time. With your brother, we jumped in. The Ukrainian orphanage director placed a precious bundled baby into our shaking arms and we chose love at first sight. But really, we had no idea. We did not know how this love grows. How it cultivates your heart and flourishes through your veins. We chose love in that moment, but we didn’t quite understand the gravity. We were beautifully naive.
Now we know. Yes, we will choose love at first sight again, but this time we know depths and richness of the love ahead of us. The idea that we are about to meet this love again is exhilarating but also a bit petrifying.
We are here to meet our daughter.
We wait eagerly for our social worker and your CPS social worker to park alongside the curb behind us and we all begin to get out of our cars. The slam of car doors behind me jolts me into action. It is time.
Invited in, we are escorted to the living room couch by three of your home health nurses, your foster mom and dad, our social worker, and your CPS social worker. It’s a full house. One of your nurses brings you over to us. Your hair pulled up in messy puffs and your delicious chubby arms squeezed tightly in the sleeves of your pink polka-dotted dress. And YOUR THIGHS. Those squishy delightfully-rolly thighs deserve their own essay. You sit in my lap and I awkwardly try to find the best position where I can see you and you can still see your people and know your safe. I long to wrap you up, hold you close, cheek to cheek, or even sneak off into another room where we can talk alone, without all these inquisitive eyes. I am nervous they are judging my reaction. Did they expect tears? Do they think me not crying is a bad sign? They are asking us questions about your brother, our home and us. Being judged, watched, considered and all while trying to say hello to you. One nurse is sharing how she taught you to call her mama. My mind zooms and heart races, longing to contest. Insecurity rises. I am thinking too much about them. Stop. This moment is about us.
Hello, my daughter.
The interrogation team fades a little more into the background as your beautiful almond eyes gaze curiously at my face and your sweet chubby brown hand takes hold of my fine hair. You have met so many people in your life who promised you care and love for the last 2 ½ years in foster care. I respect and welcome your inquisitions. You can ask me or of me anything. I understand your guard is up, but for you I will let mine down.
You warm up to the idea of potential new playmates. We ask the social workers if we can take some pictures. With their blessing, the camera is out and you transform into diva super model. Hands to hip. Pose. Blow kisses. Dad bravely leans in for a kiss and you pucker out your sweet lips. SMOOCH. A kiss to steal your father’s heart.
We play, sing, and make funny faces. Your giggle makes us giggle. We talk with your nurses about your favorite toys and songs. Your tube feeding schedule, sleep patterns and milestones you have met. They attempt to tell us about all things you. I love learning about you. I want to know everything but I cannot know it all. I will never know it all. 2 years of you that I cannot truly have back no matter how much paperwork I read or stories I hear. The adults talk while your weight sinks back against my chest and you relax more in my arms. This pressure on my chest, on my heart, brings with it a reassurance and surge of hope. God will restore those years for us. He will rebuild our hearts. You see, this love, deep and rich awaits us. We may not share those 2 years, we may not share blood, instead we begin the journey of a lifetime of sharing hearts that will leave both of us never the same. You are no longer a foster child; you are our child.
Hello, my daughter.