Two Weeks

It's the night before my first (legal and official) Mother's Day, and I am overwhelmed with two feelings: love and guilt. 

 

The love part is obvious. I love my kids in that glorious way that language falls short of describing. The word itself means so much, and so little. It's the most powerful emotion we're capable of having, and yet it gets tossed around in everyday conversation so often. Today alone, I've loved a new kind of yogurt I tried for the first time at the breakfast table, I loved the dress that a friend was wearing, and I loved, loved, <em>loved </em>this song I heard on the radio. Seriously. I was full of love.

 

The way we love each other is so different from those other things, and yet somehow we haven't come up with another word to use for it. Man on the moon? Check. The capability to have live, full color, full picture conversations with each other over tiny computers that fit into our pockets? Check. A word that differentiates between the amazing, heat bursting, misty eyed feeling we have for the people we'd die for and the "Turn it up, this is my sooooonnnngggg!" feeling we get when hearing a surprise Sonic Youth song on college radio? Not so much.

 

But this love, here? The love that I feel constantly, that spikes every time I look at, talk to, or merely think of my kiddos? This love is like the excitement of every Christmas morning rolled into one. It's like if you took every happy moment in your entire life and balled it up, and stuck it in a special place inside your mind where it just played on repeat.  And on the crappiest poop sandwich of a day, when everything seems to be going to hell and nothing is right, it's the realization that you're being ridiculous because, c'mon. Everything can't be wrong. They exist.

 

So, why the guilt?

 

The short answer is this: I didn't always love my kids. In fact, there was a time, long, long ago, that I didn't think I could be their Mom. There was a time that I was mere seconds away from telling the caseworker that they needed to find another family because I just. couldn't. do it. 

 

This is really hard for me to talk about, but if there is one thing I know about foster care and adoption, it's that there needs to be a lot of honesty when we talk about the process. Our story has a happy ending, but it was rough going for a few weeks in the beginning. I don't ever want anyone to think that it's nothing but magic and marvel, because the reality is that it's not - for either the kids, or the parents. 

 

Think of it this way: when you meet someone for the first time, there's a lot that needs to happen before you can develop a relationship with them. You need to learn about them, and they need to learn about you. You need to find out who they are, what they like, how they'll react to certain situations. You need to trust them, you need to earn their trust, you need to find out all the things about them that are off limits, and they need to learn your boundaries.

 

Here is how I met my kids: the Friday before Labor Day 2011, a van pulled up outside our house.  Scout bounded out immediately, ran around our driveway a few times, and then plopped himself down on the concrete. We walked over and said hello.  He grunted in reply. Sunny bawled her eyes out and clung to the social worker. She refused to make eye contact with either of us.

 

The caseworkers were there for about twenty minutes. We signed some paperwork, and then they left. Both kids were filthy. They were covered in open sores. Their teeth had noticeable rot.  Sunny had head lice. Scout was three and a half but could barely speak.  He mostly ran around the house. And then ran some more. We put some food out, and they ate. And ate. And ate. They grunted and pointed for more food. They ate until we thought they might throw up. 

 

Sunny wouldn't let us touch her, which made changing her diaper difficult. We showed them their rooms, we showed them their toys, we put on a movie.  And then we tried to settle down for the evening, with these two little strangers that couldn't communicate, wouldn't look us in the eye, and were confused and devastated about why they were in a new place with new people. It still breaks my heart to think about what they must have been going through.

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