Two Weeks


That night, Sunny woke up screaming no less than a dozen times. 


The next few days continued like that, and, looking back, I'm not proud of the way I handled it. In front of the kids, I was fine. I blew bubbles in the backyard and we ate popsicles. I took them to the doctor and scheduled speech evaluations, and I was exceedingly gentle and patient. I even made Sunny smile a few times, which felt like reaching the peak at Everest.  But, quite a few times, I excused myself to go to the bathroom, locked the door, and cried.


I was overwhelmed. Overnight, Jeremy and I became the parents of two toddlers we had never met before, and I was emotionally and mentally unprepared. And I knew - I just <em>knew</em> - that I couldn't do it. 


We couldn't leave the house, save for the backyard, because the kids were in such bad condition. Scout in particular was incredibly wild, like a tiny, blond wildebeest. His lack of communication frustrated me, and frustrated him even more. Sunny wasn't used to attention. Her legs were stiff from being strapped into car seats placed on the floor instead of held. Her top front teeth had rotted out from the bottles propped in her mouth to keep her quiet. She didn't laugh, smile, or seem particularly interested in playing or being fawned on. 


And so, a few days in, Jeremy and I were lying in bed, and I was sobbing. I said to my husband "We can't do this. They need so much more than we can give them. We have to call the caseworker and disrupt the placement. I just can't do this." And because he is an incredible human being, and a patient and loving husband, he looked at me and said "I think you can. I think <em>we</em> can." And because I was an emotional, cooped up, overwhelmed, exhausted human being, I looked at him and said "Noooooooo I caaaaaannnnn't!"


And then he said the wisest thing that anyone has ever said, the perfect thing at the perfect moment. "Give it two weeks. At the end of two weeks, if you still think we can't do it, we make the call."


Two weeks. Fourteen days. Three hundred thirty six hours. Seemed feasible.  Gandhi went three weeks without food, for crying out loud. I could do two weeks. And I was positive that once the two weeks were over, I would call the social worker and tell them that I was now completely and utterly sure that we just couldn't meet the needs of these kids, and they needed to come get them and bring them to someone that could.


And so it went that way for days. A week, even. But then things started to happen. First of all, on my fourth attempt, I successfully eradicated head lice and stopped the phantom itching of my own (lice free, thank god) head. I got the diaper changing down to a science and stopped gagging at the smell. We developed a routine with bedtime. I learned what foods they liked and what music made them smile. We ventured out of the house together and they started daycare with relatively few bumps. Things were kind of working.


And then, on the eve of the two weeks, we put the kids to bed. It was still warm enough to have the windows open, and Jeremy and I sat together on the couch, enjoying the breeze and a well earned beer. Everything was completely silent. We had spent the day at the zoo,our first big outing together, and as I replayed the events of the day in my mind, I suddenly became filled up with the thought of their little faces. 


I missed them. They were asleep, in their rooms, and I missed them. 


And that was that. Love. New, fragile, unsure, insecure, but love. It was there, and I knew it. And I knew there would be no phone call to the caseworker in the morning. Even if they were only with us for a few more weeks. or a few more months, even if they went to a relative or their parents completed their plan and they returned to them, it didn't matter. I loved those little people, and I would give them my all for as long as I could.


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