A few years back, I told my partner that I wanted to be a dad. He wasn’t on board and didn’t think that he would ever want to go down that road. To my surprise, about five years later, he brought back up the conversation. He asked if I truly meant what I had said. Of course I did! We started looking at options for adoption and considering whether or not we wanted to do newborn adoption. The more we explored, we found that there were many children in foster care who needed homes.
We began our journey in October 2016. To be honest, the initial classes scared us and we wondered if this was the right avenue for us. We were still stuck on the idea of a newborn or, at least, a child under 5. We wanted the experiences of a new parent and to be able to celebrate his or her “firsts.” The first words, the first steps, etc. Everything that a parent gets to experience.
We continued our courses and after almost two years of online and in-person courses, finally, we were ready to move on to the next step: the home study. After a few in-office meetings with our caseworker and one in-home safety check, we were approved. The process hadn’t been as bad as we thought. Now we were ready for the matching process.
“The process hadn’t been as bad as we thought.”
At first, when we looked through the pictures of available kids, we were thinking: what makes one more worthy to live with us than the next? It was hard. It was exhausting. It was heart wrenching. We found a child who was 12 or 13 and had some issues that were talked about in the classes we had taken. Since it was the first time we were potentially interested in a child, we took our time and discussed it. It was a hard conversation on what we thought we were ready for. Since we were wanting a child 5 or under, was this the child we thought was right for our family, or not? After a couple days, we contacted our worker inquiring on the child, only to find out that the child was accepted by another family. It was disheartening, but we continued looking.
Next, we were contacted by our caseworker wanting to know if we would be interested in another child. His trauma was more psychological than physical. We went through an interview with his caseworkers and he sounded amazing. We were hopeful. We later learned the extent of his trauma and had to make the hard decision that he wasn’t the child for our home.
One day, we received an email from our caseworker that said, “I know you’re only looking for one child, but I will just leave this right here.” I opened up the page and it was a picture of two adorable boys—brothers. Without even reading the bio, I sent it to my husband and said, “These are our kids!” In the same moment, he was in complete agreement!
We went for our match meeting and we met with their caseworkers and guardian ad litem. I can’t remember how long we waited but, we eventually got a call that we had been chosen to move on to collaterals, where we would then get to learn the full extent of their past. We then met with the same people again but this meeting also included their current foster parents. We really thought the meeting went well and we learned a lot about the boys. After, we walked out and were decompressing when our caseworker said, “Full disclosure…they are meeting with another family right now.” Our hearts sank. We didn’t know how to feel. We were told that it is often that two families are interviewed for the same children and that we may not be picked but she had some inkling that they really liked us. We still left feeling deflated.
A day or two later, after what felt like an eternity, we received an email from our caseworker stating that she needed to speak with both of us. We knew this was it. Our hearts were racing. We dropped what we were doing and got on the phone. Then we got the news. WE WERE CHOSEN! We now knew who our family would be. We were in tears.
“We now knew who our family would be.”
In all of our planning, we were told the process for placement normally takes a couple months. For us, as they say, the other shoe dropped. We were told that the foster family was going on vacation in a couple weeks and instead of having them go to another foster home, they would just place them with us. We had exactly two weeks until move-in day. Our house was not ready! We intentionally hadn’t prepared the bedrooms we were going to give our boys, as we wanted to wait until we knew who our child/children would be and what their interests were so we could decorate accordingly—and we “knew” that we would have time to do this during our two-month transition.
Two days later we drove to the foster home to meet them for the first time. We were so nervous. It took a little time, but they eventually warmed up and the meeting went great! The next day we went to see them again and hang out for a few hours. We took them out for lunch and to the zoo. As soon as they got in the car the older one said, “I know what we’re going to call you. Daddy 1 and Daddy 2.” Our hearts melted.
Over those two weeks we spent more time in the car than at home so that we could see them and to get acquainted with each other. During these times, we asked about their interests and favorite colors, and collected information about clothing sizes along with all their medical records. In the meantime, when we did get a few minutes at home, we were applying what we learned about them to painting and decorating their rooms with new furniture that we hoped they would like.
The first time they came to our home, we had completed the painting but the rest was still pretty bare. We warned them on the way that we were still working on things and promised that it would be done before move in day. When we pulled in the driveway the first thing we heard was, “It’s not as big as I expected.” Not yet used to the honestly of a child, our hearts sank a little. We were able to brush passed it and move to the inside. When we got to the bedrooms, the oldest walked in to his room and said, “I’m glad that this isn’t done because if it’s going to stay like this, this isn’t going to work!” This time, expecting nothing less than honesty, we laughed about it because we knew all the work we were doing and all the items that were still on the way.
On move-in day, it all became real. We now had to care for these kids full time. Luckily my spouse was able to take parental leave from work and would be home for the next four months. Those four months were a whirlwind of getting registered for school, transferring everything into our names and establishing doctors and dentists. In this time we also learned that the boys we “met” on paper were not the same boys that moved in. These boys were amazingly independent and wiser than their years in many aspects. They were also behind the curve academically and socially. These were the areas we clearly needed to educate ourselves on how to handle.
“They are far from ‘normal.’ They are extraordinary.”
The day they moved in, was the day that we became dads. The happiest day of our lives came eight months later on adoption day. It’s now been a year since move-in day. It has not always been easy. They have questions I never thought I would have to answer. They are smart, they are unique, and they are what people would label as “normal.” But, they are far from “normal.” They are extraordinary.
About the Author: Chip and Greg adopted through the CH/LSS foster to adopt program. As a family of four, they enjoy camping, the zoo, amusement parks, kayaking, and traveling. When they are not spending time outdoors, they enjoy doing puzzles together, playing board games, and watching movies.