In case you missed Part 1, read it first here.
Let's pick up where we left off...
In the same breath that our adoption coordinator told us what T decided, she also said, "But I have a kid who I think you and Joel would be perfect for and his TPR (termination of parental rights) and case file just landed on my desk."
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Y'all I'm serious when I say Joel and I had reached a point in this journey where we questioned if we ever wanted to be parents EVER! We didn't even know if we could be matched again after the most horrendous things had happened with our first disruption with T. Joel had been so stressed that he didn't know if his health could handle it. Before this moment, we had become content with the idea of just waiting it out and just being us for a while, if T had decided to move on.
But I was with Joel when I was having this conversation, so on a moment's notice I asked him, "Do you want to hear about another kid?" He thought for a quick second and then nodded yes.
I couldn't believe he said yes. Joel is never the gas in our relationship- shocker! I'm always the leap first, think later one and well, let's just say I've rubbed off on him a bit. I couldn't believe that after all that brokenness I too said yes.
She proceeded some details "His name is Freddie and he is 13. He has 3 sisters- one who is now 18, one whom was adopted by a paternal family member (not related to Freddie), and one that was just adopted by another foster mom, but she is eager to maintain connections with the siblings."
My heart smiled that he had sisters. This was huge to me. Huge to me that we could be a reason they were able to stay connected, even if we weren't the ones to adopt them altogether. Oh my heart.
Joel and I prayed and thought about learning more at a full disclosure meeting. We didn't tell many people this time. But I had spoken with 2 mamas that had similar stories. A terrible disruption happened in their journey to becoming foster or adoptive parents, and then bam in a moment they met their forever child. I knew a few things... after hearing their stories, I felt connected and convinced that maybe I could still be a mom and that maybe this was God, moving quickly, tugging on my heart before it became too numb.
After all, I didn't search for this kid. I had never seen a photo of him. I knew a few things about him, and I asked all the questions I didn't know to ask the first time we had been matched. I didn't find this kid out of desperation, myself. He was given to us in our most desperate hour.
Psalm 30:5 says, "His favor is for life;Weeping may endure for a night,But joy comes in the morning."
Don't get me wrong. We weren't elated. We were hesitant. And we were questioning our ability to love again, if we had it in us, and if this is what we wanted, more than ever before.
Our adoption coordinator presented him to us. And I thought maybe this is a door God opened, since clearly I didn't open it. And I questioned, do I want to be the one that closes a door God, Himself opened?! So I told Joel that I felt that way, and he did too.
So, on Easter weekend, I texted her that we decided that we would say yes to a full disclosure meeting. This disclosure is where the entire team (caseworker, guardians, therapists, etc.- anyone that engages with the child) meets with the prospective family and answers any questions following their entire case file. After a couple weeks of waiting, the coordinator snatched some photos for me. In my mind, Freddie had beautiful light brown skin, but really I had no clue. And then this photo came before our meeting.
This time the meeting felt different. In a good way, it was completely different. The entire team was on board. He had support that T had lacked. This team knew this kid. And they were eager to sign us up before we could even say "yes." It was decided. They just knew, based on our dedication to T, that we were Freddie's family. We wanted to meet Freddie. In fact, we signed the paperwork to prevent any other family from looking at him. He never even went to recruitment (sometimes kids can stay in recruit birthday after birthday, Christmas after Christmas, before they ever have a forever family). TPR with Freddie had happened at the same time we had lost T. And while, we don't believe that all was lost with T- as we hope we made a difference in his life, we were just waiting on God's bigger plan to unfold for our life and for his.
In the meeting, the guardian began texting big sister and arranged for us to meet her first. You see, Freddie had literally just been presented with the idea of adoption. It wasn't something he had been thinking about long or even asked about. It's not something he wished and wanted for his life. A lot of kids in foster don't wish they had another family- they have a family and just because the state removed them, it doesn't make them love them any less, no matter the trauma. It's just human nature to love your parents, no matter what. So, we decided that it might be better for us to meet big sister first, so she could tell him what she thought about us becoming his family. She came over for dinner one evening after visiting with her youngest sister. However, to our surprise, little sister's adoptive mom dropped her off. So we got 2 for 1 y'all. We got to meet two of his sisters the very same day- and one of their moms.
I noticed that her mom was driving a car with a "USC" tag on it, which is a college from the state Joel and I are from, but I didn't think too much about it. The following week, we connected over facebook and she asked me if I was from Anderson, South Carolina. Y'all I cannot make this stuff up. Turns out she is from my small hometown, and she graduated from the high school I went to nearly all my life. She's from my little town of Williamston, SC. Only God. ONLY GOD! And now... years later, she lives 5 minutes from us in Jacksonville, over 6 hours from our little town. Say what?!!
That night with big sister was a blast. She is a lot like me- high energy, open book. She even called Freddie and tried to play matchmaker herself at that first meeting, and he was SOOOO quiet and wouldn't speak much to us. He was timid. The idea of adoption, even though he had agreed to meet us, was still so new to him. A few weeks went by and then we got to meet him and big sis with the whole team for ice cream. He was still quiet. He didn't have any questions (as most kids don't, they just observe). But big sis is a talker, so she and I kept the conversation going. And of course we brought Mo (our dog) along with us, and she's always a trip.
We met him about a week or so later, again (I cannot even begin to tell you the timeline- which is so unlike me, but I was just living in the moment) at a park and then on Mother's Day weekend we made plans to go see a movie for our first unsupervised visit. It was great until we got a flat tire. AHHHH and just so you know a wheelchair accessible van isn't something you can just find on the fly. How hard it was to stay joyful in this moment of spending our first time alone with him and all the complications that life throws at you. But we got it taken care of (oh and just so you know... the people who stopped to help us just so happen to drive the exact van I do and we had everything between us and them to figure it out since AAA and no one in all of HUGE Jacksonville could tell us how to get help). We made arrangements to unite all his sisters together on my birthday weekend to celebrate big sis graduating from high school. This would be the first time they would all be together unsupervised by the state in over a year. And they had no clue it was my birthday, but I was basking in mama-mode and loving every second.