This was the day. This windy, blustery, autumn day in November was the day. After a distracted morning at work where I waited for the clock to tell me I could leave, it was time. I picked up Chad nearby and we headed to the meeting. This was like no other meeting we had ever attended. This was the biggest meeting of our lives. Today we would meet Nathaniel, an 8-week old baby boy. We had been chosen as a match in the fost-adopt process, and today would be the first day in the transition period of moving him from the Emergency Foster Home to our own home. Today we would determine out how long that transition would be, how often we would see him, and if/when he would come home with us.
The ride there was quiet. Nerves and anticipation coupled with impatience and fear filled the car. Questions swirled but were never uttered. Was our wait over? Was this right? Were WE the right people for this baby boy? The social workers involved could still stop this…could still tell us they had made a mistake and the match wouldn’t work. So I waited to see signs of that disappointment as we approached the house.
The emergency foster mother, Jane, caring for Nathaniel had fostered 96 babies, a number that both impressed and intimidated me. I waited to see her face, meet this person who played such a heart-filled role in this baby boy’s life. Would I like her? Would she like me? Did it matter?
As she opened the door, I looked away from her almost instantly, done with those questions now, and ready to meet this baby boy. The smile on my face became forced as my eyes darted around the room. My shoulders sunk a little when Jane told us he was in his crib still. I barely heard her ask us to sit down. What? Sit down? Why? What were we waiting for? Years of pain and grief, years of wondering, years of yearning, years of waiting…and she wanted us to sit down? Was she going to offer us tea next and share holiday stories?
There is no manual for emotionally charged, awkward moments like this…moments that bring people together through extraordinary circumstances that include both loss and hope. This baby was here because of tragedy and trauma. This baby’s mother suffered loss when he came home from the hospital with this woman we met today instead of with her. This baby had lost the connection to a woman he grew inside for almost 9 months, the way she moved, the sound of her voice. And now Jane had loved and nurtured him for two months, and she was getting ready to say goodbye to him. Yet here we sat ready for our beginning, for our waiting to be over. We knew the story, recognized the loss, felt the bittersweet mixing of sadness and joy. It was huge.
While I continued the awkward, pasted smile and watched the clock above Jane’s head, I felt myself ready to lose it. We answered her questions and listened while she talked about Nathaniel’s routine and his traits. Just. Bring. Him. Out. Already! And then I heard her ask, “I wonder why they chose you?” One question. That one question was almost my undoing. What did THAT mean? Was this not going well? Was my smile too big? Was I mumbling? Were my clothes not motherly enough? Did she have a say in all this?
Just before I threw up in my mouth, Chad’s hand on my knee steadied me. While I recovered from the shock, Jane went to get Nathaniel. I watched her walk out…and I waited.
As she walked back into that living room carrying that blue-eyed, brown haired tiny baby boy, I felt stronger. I looked at him, and I knew. This baby. This boy. Nathaniel. We had found him. He was why we had to wait so long. We were supposed to wait for him because all that time had made us stronger, made us ready for how much our hearts would stretch and grow. He was why we had cried so hard. He was why nothing else had worked. He was why. He was ours.