We knocked on the door and were greeted by their foster mom - her and I have been emailing and calling for the last few weeks and we have already started a bond and friendship. It was great to meet her and tell her thank you for loving on our kids for us. As we walked into the house - R came running across the room and leaped into Josh's arms. T hid behind the coffee table giggling a nervous giggle. It took some coaxing but she finally came over and gave me a hug. They showed us their rooms and the pictures we had sent (the kids had all written them notes to welcome them to the family). There were a LOT of nervous giggles and activity. After about ten minutes they were ready to head out. We grabbed their bags and car-seats and we were off to bond and get to know each other - for the next four days.
I quickly realized that it had been a long time since we've had a toddler in the house - - I needed a MOM purse...to carry snacks and wipes and water bottles. A quick stop at Target and we were all set. T spent the first day just staring at us - nestling her head into us - and calling out "Mommy" or "Daddy" as she gave a hug. She craved the chance to call us Mommy and Daddy and would say it over and over again. R was definitely more reserved. He had lots of questions and stories to tell and we were "Josh" and "Tausha" when he talked to us. The first day went well and was full of nervous energy and building trust. I got lots of hugs and even an "I love you" from each of the kids by mid-day - - that was definitely more than I expected. They truly are ready to have a family and crave that place in someone's heart. I spent the day hefting my mom purse on one shoulder and carrying "T" on my other hip (it's been a long time since I've carried a child around all the time...but when a cute little 4 year old that you are trying to bond and attach to says "Hold me mommy!" you hold her and cuddle her and whisper how much you love her in her ear - - no matter how much your arms and back start aching because you are out of shape and not used to it!). Needless to say - we all went to bed exhausted (probably emotionally and physically).
Over the next couple of days we had meetings and outings. We spent time learning about likes and dislikes. We had a few sibling arguments and a couple of meltdowns - - we got yelled at and there were tears. And honestly I'm thankful - - the meltdowns and the tears are healthy and show us that they trust us enough to be vulnerable and show some emotion. It shows us that they feel like they can be real and test some boundaries and not just put up a front and pretend that everything is okay. Because honestly - everything isn't okay. Their ENTIRE world is changing and transitioning and is full of unknowns.
We had some meltdowns and tears on the home front too! We phoned home a couple days in to have the kids "meet" on Facetime and check in with how everyone was doing. By the end of the talk the three youngest were all in tears. If you know us at all - we leave our kids often! They are used to spending the weekend at grandmas - they never fall apart or miss us like this. This trip was different though - it was full of emotion and change and unknowns. Their ENTIRE world is changing too and they have to figure out where they fit in all of it.
By the end of our week - "T" was asking me over and over - - "I'm your baby girl?? - Yes, sweetie you are my baby girl...forever and ever. - And you're my mommy? - Yes, sweetie I'm your mommy...forever and ever!"
By the end of our week - we were no longer "Josh" and "Tausha" - R was naturally and out of habit calling us "Dad" and "Mom" - he was wearing Dad's hat all the time and even wanting to order the same food as Dad - he wants to be just like him and craves a Daddy hero to look up to.
By the end of the week I was catching a cold and we were over living out of a hotel. It is exhausting eating out and entertaining kids at outings (movies, bowlings, museums) - we fit in 4 different meetings with social workers and even a meeting with the school. We were sad to hug our kids goodbye but we were missing our kiddos here and the routine of everyday life in our home. We helped them get ready for bed and tucked them in - we told them we loved them and that we would call soon and often until we can come get them. Our time with them was precious and we are thankful for our few days. We got to know their tender sides and the parts of their hearts that are wading through the grief and trauma that has been their life. We got a glimpse of the months ahead - the good things and the hard things that we will be working through.
Our paperwork is submitted and our checklists are in the process of getting checked over - our case worker anticipated that we may have approval in approximately 4 weeks. We are keeping our fingers crossed for mid-February but we'll see how everything goes. In the mean time - we are going to keep in touch with the kids through phone calls and Facetime. We are going to reassure them that we love them and that we are still here. We are going to treasure our kids that our in our home and reassure them that we love them and help them wade through this transition. I'm going to be busy getting my classroom ready to be gone for a few weeks when the kids come home.
Please pray for us - - please pray for our paperwork...for our kids here...for our kids there...for all the hearts involved that will be saying goodbyes and hellos...please pray for doctors and teachers and workers that are working to get the kids into a forever family...please pray that above all else we will continue to trust God to guide and direct and comfort our family through this process!