I was beyond moved at how brave and loving Liberty and her family were when they became a foster family and welcomed Baby AJ into their home and lives (if you haven't read the first post, click here). This is Liberty's second post chronicling her family's journey and I am so thankful she is sharing such an intimate portrait with us...
by Designing Mom Liberty
These past few weeks have been such a whirlwind. I guess anytime that you add a child into a family there comes some real shock.... and to be honest, I did expect some. But what I didn't expect was that this little boy would steal my heart so fast. (And he's welcome to it, no matter what...) To be really honest, the first shock of being a mom was so hard for me that I remember feeling like I would never be "normal" or "human" again. Then #2 came along and the sheer volume of two little babies was completely enough to wipe away most short term memory. I seriously don't remember much from that season.
I never count my chickens before they hatch. Which means that I didn't get freakishly gaga over my burgeoning belly (either time). I simply counted my blessings and prayed for grace to tackle what was ahead. When my kids came out, and I got to know them I found myself slowly falling in love with them, with their personalities, their beauties. So when you talk about adding in an adopted kid - and even more distinctly, a foster kid - to the mix - you simply don't know what to expect.
I mean, we went to all our classes and we learned about the hard things we'd be facing... we learned about all the safety measures we would need to take, and we were screened, fingerprinted, taught CPR - the whole shebang... and in that mix, you can quite easily forget that you are dealing with a person, a person who you desire to love. We had no idea as to what we'd be getting- an infant, a toddler - we certainly never imagined that we'd be back in 0-3 months clothes again (our kids only wore them for about 2 weeks each).
And yet - 1 week after we had our final home study - we were driving a tiny little baby boy back in our car to our home. Just like that. (okay, and with a lot of paperwork that had to be signed). It just happened so fast! In my mind, I'd expected a long waiting period, or at least a short one... I expected an older kid who had developed a lot further, perhaps even experienced abuse or neglect. But a baby? no, I didn't picture that.
To be clear, without sharing too much of his story (as opposed to my own, which is public) - he's certainly faced a lot of transition, hardship and abandonment in his young life. One of the most surreal moments for me was getting him home into my house and laying him on his back on my bed. I looked into his deep brown eyes and held his and said to him, "Hi AJ, nice to meet you. I'm the momma" - to which he (not kidding) giggled the cutest little laugh. So of course, I repeated that phrase to get him to laugh again over and over for about a half hour.
Whenever I look at him, I am blown away at the value of a human life. I'm honored to be the caregiver of such a lovely little human. There have already been people who've told him "no" in many many ways. And I look at him and I say out loud, "I have a thousand YES' for you, little boy. You are worthy." (I find it ironic that if our adoption goes through perfectly, this child who seemingly would have no one to care for him, ends up loved, valued and with the last name WORTH)
The transition from 2 to 3 kids hasn't been near what I had been told. I mean, come dinnertime, it's "all hands on deck" around here. I have asked my hubby and a neighbor friend to be here if at all possible to help with the insanity as it occurs each night - and that is literally how we are surviving... normally, my husband works really long hours, but the timing of this has been such that he's been able to be around a lot more lately.
At first, when we brought AJ home, it seemed like the adoption process was going to be on a "fast track" - okay, that's how I labeled it... since we got him so quickly. But very soon, the reality of the system that is foster care began to show its face. I've learned in the past few weeks that though this was a quick way to add another kid to our family - it's not an easy route by any means. Our agency was able to hold our hands and guide us through certification - which itself is a bear - but I have now learned that when you are working with the foster care system - you are also working with government red tape, unresolved parental issues, a daily roller coaster of information that leads you up and down between hope and despair. If you've been watching my twitter posts or Facebook status - you've been seeing me write things like " is important. and good. but not for the fainthearted." and "The choice that's inconvenient will turn your life around" - and it's true. We face a hundred unknowns with AJ. We are NOT sure what the for-sure outcome will be. We get told that we're on the road to adoption, and we also get told that he is "most certainly" not ours forever.
So, we've decided to walk on. We've decided to face the fire and walk into it with him in our arms, looking into his perfect and beautiful face - because this child is worth all of the unknowns, the fear, the joy, the laughter and tears. He's worth it when I sit through difficult parental visitations at DCFS offices, he's worth all the extra paperwork and the classes. Like any baby, he's worth the sleepless nights and the frustrating attempts at deciphering the differences between cries. He's worth the heartache. He's worth the questions.
We have decided simply to love him in a way that looks (to him and everyone else) like we are keeping him forever, because he deserves that. And yet, in our hearts, Jay and I have had to hold AJ in an open hand... knowing that we are not in control.
I guess it's a reminder that we're never really in control. None of us can be forever sure that our kids are going to be safe, healthy, and under our protection even next week... this is a reminder to me daily as I look at this lovely, happy, healthy, helpless face... that lives like this are worth pouring into.
He's worth it.
We just hope and pray that someday we are able to call him a Worth.