It was September 11, 2011. Chad and I had just finished a 24-hour local Relay for Life event. Drained and raw with emotion, we arrived home only to be bombarded with all the special programs to remember and honor those lives lost and forever changed 10 years earlier on September 11th. By evening we were saturated with emotions: from Relay, from evocative 9/11 shows, and from the fost-adopt process we had set in motion. I always considered it strange that I could remember everything about the day with absolute clarity, and yet can’t usually remember what I was about to say. A few more months of waiting, and I would know why.
While we were waiting for that emotionally charged day to end, a baby boy we didn’t yet know was fighting to be born, struggling to feel loved, waiting to meet us. Waiting to heal us.
The next two months were a whirlwind of home study meetings, social worker visits, anxious dreams, more paperwork…and more waiting. They were all at once the fastest months of my life, and the slowest months. The quiet times that came found me questioning if this was right. Not whether this was right for us, but if we were right for this. Could we actually welcome a child into our home and give love from our scared and aching hearts without the assurance of being able to adopt? We were ready to be a forever family, and not strong enough to be a helping family. We were ready to grow and to give. The very real possibility that we would take a step in that direction only to have it taken from us often left me frozen and crying with fear. “Wait and see”, was the phrase we so often heard.
While we worked through the process, waited to hear of any potential match, that baby boy grew stronger and stronger waiting for us.
In early November, on a rainy, Friday morning full of the most hope I had felt in years, we arrived at the agency offices. Here, we would preview all the available children for fostering and fost-adopt in the county and state. After hours of reading about these children, babies and teens alike, we once again felt that heavy saturation of emotions. The stories crushed our hearts, chipped away at our resolve. Did we really have the strength to help these children? Did we have enough love to heal this pain?
We left with a heaviness that was made lighter only by the possible matches we held in our hands. Chad drove, and I stared at the pictures and words on the pages in my hands. Which one? How do we know? Do we wait some more? The phone rang.
One phone call. One phone call started answering what ten years of pain, ten years of waiting were for. As I listened to the words from our social worker, the tears came. I waited until she was done talking…and cried some more. With very little information about a 7-week old baby boy, we agreed to a disclosure meeting, and waited three of the longest days of our lives.
Because so much of the fost-adopt process is about matching and chemistry, we knew that the two social workers we met at the meeting were scoping us out for compatibility. We knew each question was carefully asked to “test” us, with the baby’s best interest in mind. We waited to hear we were not a good match. We waited to be asked to leave. We waited while they told us about the baby’s sad beginnings. We waited while they warned us of the risks associated with the case. We read court reports and waited for the next question. As we held hands under the table, we answered the questions and waited for more of the story. We waited to hear his name: Nathaniel. We waited to see his picture, although by the end of the meeting when they showed it to us, we already knew our answer was yes.
Yes. And so we waited two more days to meet him, two more days for time to bring us together.