A dear friend of mine recently had surgery and was unable to share a special celebration with her daughter, one they have celebrated together every year for the last ten years. So in lieu of going out to commemorate a special occasion, she wrote this and shared it with me. I don't mind telling you I was deeply touched. I asked her if I could post it on my blog, and she said yes. I hope you like it, too. My friend's name is Robin Cross, and Robin writes:
So everyone always asks me... "How did you end up adopting Sara?", and every time I tell the story I cry. Even ten years later, my eyes are watering even now just thinking about it.
I was divorced, teaching special education, coaching volleyball, volunteering at the boys and girls club, had just finished my masters degree, was singing in the church choir, teaching Sunday school, ... good grief, I was doing anything I could to stay busy! I had decided that because I'd been divorced twice and was childless that there probably wasn't any hope of my ever having any children. I was 37, there were no romantic prospects in the picture, and I wasn't getting any younger or any less single.
Through my work in special education, I befriended a "case worker" for foster children who was assigned to more than one child in my classroom over a couple of years' time. I began talking to her about how much I wanted a child, and how unlikely it was that any agency would grant me that wish since I was single. She said that if I was serious, she'd bring me the papers to get started. I was shocked!! But, I jumped at the chance.
Nicole brought me a HUGE stack of documents to fill out that asked pretty much everything about me except how many times a day I went to the bathroom. I filled them out in record time and turned them back in. Since I had recently completed a master's degree in counseling, I was waivered for most of the foster parenting classes that were required. She took the papers from me the first week of February, and told me to do whatever I needed to to get my house ready for a little girl. She said the process was long and arduous, so I'd have at least acouple of months.
I had this "junk room", the only other bedroom in the house, that was filled to the ceiling with stuff I couldn't find a place for. I wanted to tackle it, but I had time so I didn't. Three weeks later, I got the call from Nicole that she had a little girl for me to meet! Oh My Goodness!!! How could that be? Two months had NOT passed yet!! So much to do!! Oh MY GOODNESS!!! The call came on Wednesday, and the child would come to spend the weekend with me. I was at work, so I basically had two days!!
I took off the rest of the day and the following two days, went straight to knoxville to find the perfect bedroom furniture fit for a little girl but that could grow with her as a teen, which I did, and miraculously they said they could deliver it Friday morning!! WOW!! Never in a million years would that ever happen again! I then rushed home and began emptying the "junkroom". For the next day and a half, which is still a blur, I peeled very old wallpaper off, painted the bedroom a pretty pastel pink with white trim for the woodwork, waxed the hardwood floor, and bought bedding and perfect lacy white curtains. I was so excited... and NERVOUS!!!
The furniture arrived just in time to get the room set up completely before I brought her home. I was to pick her up from a birthday party at a church. As I drove to the church to meet this prospect for a daughter, my heart nearly pounded right out of my chest!
Now, there were some ground rules. I was not under ANY circumstances to mention adoption to her or that I wanted a little girl at all. As far as she knew, I was a respite worker, a person who gives foster families a weekend "respite" from their foster child so that their biological family can reconnect. I would stick to the plan, but boy would it ever be difficult!! Also, my family thought I had lost my mind! They were concerned for me, because you know... you never know what you're gonna get! I love you all, Mom, Dad, Robert, Tessa... and I truly did appreciate your concern! I know now that not a one of you would trade Sara for the world. She is most definitely one of US. Ok... there are the tears again.
So I arrived at the church, took a few deep breaths, prayed a very heartfelt plea to God to please let this child be THE ONE, and went in. I walked into a fellowship hall full of giggly 9 and 10 year old girls who were running, dancing, singing, playing basketball, and eating. There were some adults there who I knew, thank goodness. The mother of the child who the party was for asked me if I was ready, and of course I said YES! She brought this very bouncy wild-looking little thing over to me, and introduced me as the "respite worker" to Marlena (that was her name before adoption). SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL!! And VERY active!! She immediately handed me a brush and some hairbows and asked if I'd fix her hair for her. Are you kidding????? I couldn't wait to fix her hair!! So I did, and she said, "Thank you! I'm going to go play now!" And that was it. I didn't know how to feel or what to think. Was she just being polite? Did she truly trust a stranger to do such a personal thing for her? Did someone suggest to her that she handle the introduction this way? The rest of the party went by in a blur.... I remember very little. Soon, it was time to go home.
Marlena and I got into my car and headed to the house. She asked a gazillion questions. Do you like kids? Do you like boys or girls best? Are you a NEW respite worker? What's your favorite movie? Who's your favorite singer? Am I talking too much? People tell me I talk too much. I like Titanic and Celine Dion and Shania Twain. Do you know any of their songs? What do you mean, you've never seen Titanic??? Can we watch it tonight? You'll love it! I know the song for Titanic! Want me to sing it for you? Ok.... and she did... loudly... and badly! But I loved every minute of it!!
As we were driving home, it occurred to me that in the overwhelming rush of getting THE ROOM ready and making sure my house was nice and clean; that I had forgotten about FOOD. So, I told her we would stop at the grocery store to buy things that she liked to eat since I had no idea. Whew! What a save! I had made her feel special instead of making her feel like I had forgotten! Very quickly I realized that she would have me buy EVERYTHING in the store if I could!! She wasn't picky at all! So, I let her make some choices and I made the rest. We rented Titanic, which we never got to watch (thank goodness... really not appropriate for a nine year old)!
We got home, I gave her the tour of the house, and introduced her to my two dogs. The dogs loved her, of course! Soon we were on the couch in the den, eating a snack and attempting to watch Titanic. There was so much to talk about, though! At least, it appeared there was. She talked non-stop! I have no idea what we talked about that night, but it didn't matter. She seemed perfectly comfortable with me. THAT was all that mattered to me! She went to bed, and I read her a story. We said a prayer together, and then I was alone with my thoughts. I was so excited that there was no way I could sleep! This was better than any magical Christmas morning I'd ever had in my life! Better than any accomplishment or adventure or ANYTHING so far in my life! I couldn't wait until morning.
I got up early. Very early. It was all I could do to wait until an appropriate time to start cooking our big country style breakfast that we had planned out the night before. I was making it all. The works! As I was standing at the stove, humming softly along with the radio, these teeny little arms came sneaking around my waist from behind and hugged me hard. I turned around, and there was that beautiful brown eyed little face, with hair all tousled, looking up at me with a HUGE smile. She said good morning, and then she said something else. She said, "I want you to be my mommy." She said it very matter of factly, not playfully, not whiney, just as if she would have said that the sun was up or the house felt warm. My voice caught in my throat, and I had to blink back tears. I WANTED to be her mommy! But I was not allowed to say so!! So, I stooped down to her level, and said that I really was enjoying her company and that she could come visit with me any time her foster family needed a respite weekend. Those words felt so cruel coming out of my mouth, but I didn't know what else to say! Then, she said,
"I don't want you for a respite mommy. I want you to be my mommy FOREVER." Oh. My. Goodness. How do you keep your heart from exploding under these conditions????? Excuse me while I wipe away more tears.
So, on Friday, February 26th, 1999 I met my future daughter. I'll never forget it. I don't think she will either. The rest of the weekend was wonderful. The weather was cooperative, and we were able to go play in the park, and play outside with the dogs. It went by SO quickly though! On Sunday, when Nicole (the case worker) came to pick her up, she hid in my office under my desk. She did NOT want to leave. I loved it! But at the same time, I felt bad because she was misbehaving because of me. Nicole finally coaxed her out by promising to bring her back very soon. We hugged hard and long, and my little girl left. I cried, I laughed, I prayed and thanked God, I called my family to tell them that I had found THE ONE, and then I cried some more. I was completely swept off my feet by this amazing little ball of energy!
A few hours later, Nicole called me to tell me about the trip home with Marlena. She asked me how I felt about her. How did I feel??? I was elated! I couldn't wait to buy her toys! And clothes! And take her to school! And introduce her to all my family!! There was no way to describe how I felt about her! So after I stopped blathering on, Nicole said this: "Would you like to know what she thinks about you?" Oh, my heart dropped down to my toes! "She told me that you are the person that God had picked to be her mommy forever." Of course, then I was crying. Those of you who know me well know what a crier I am. I was bawling! So was Nicole.
Sara moved in with me the following Friday, March 4th, 1999. Our adoption was final on December 20th, 1999. We fondly recall that we were each others' Christmas gifts that year. She's twenty now, and I can't believe that ten years have gone by so quickly! She's beautiful, smart, an amazing singer, and has a gift for working with children. I am SO proud to be her mommy forever!
Sara, you are still the BEST Christmas present I ever got! In honor of being your mommy for ten years, since we can't go out anywhere today, I'm publishing this story to facebook to tell the world how amazing you are! I love you babygirl!