On the day we received our license in the mail we were offered the opportunity to foster a little boy and his baby sister. We decided we would do that and we welcomed a scared little boy and his sister into our home. They were only with us for 3 days but those 3 days taught me a lot. They taught me that foster care is hard! We, as adults, forget how big and scary the world is for small children. Especially children who have been so abruptly separated from their parents. They do not have the ability to think big picture. Nor do they understand why they can't be with their mom or dad or whomever was taking care of them at the time. Here they are, dropped at the door of a stranger, many times with nothing at all but the clothes on their backs. That little boy cried and cried and cried for his momma and this momma's heart broke for him. When we have our own children (whether through birth or adoption) with whom we have developed a strong bond with it is incredibly difficult to comprehend the intense toll it takes on relationship and psyche to drop everything and become everything to a child, a stranger, who is broken and scared and hurting. It takes hard work, both external and internal. These two little ones were able to go home with their mother and grandmother relatively quickly! I am thankful for that. I was not ready. Abby was not ready. She had her world turned upside down in a hurry that week too.
On this day (April 19) 4 years ago our phone rang again with another possible placement. This time it was for a little 9 month old boy whose case was looking like it would soon be an adoptive placement. When I called James to ask him if he would like to take a 9 month old little boy he said, "Duh!" It wasn't even a question worth considering a no answer. Late in the afternoon a caseworker showed up on our doorstep and dropped of this little bundle of awesomeness.
James and Abby fell in love instantly.
Attachment is a tricky beast. I guarded myself against the hope that this little boy would be mine and it took me a long time to feel like this boy belonged to me and I to him. He was a sweet boy and he loved to snuggle, BUT the spit up. Oh how he spit up. All. The. Time. Fortunately he outgrew that phase when he was 15 months old or so. It took him a while to sit, then crawl and eventually walk. It also took him a while to eat solid food and drink from a cup and learn to talk. Each day he stayed we had the opportunity to love him more. I would like to say we did so perfectly, but who can really ever say they love perfectly.
Rarely does anything move quickly through the foster care system. We went to court date after court date where nothing ever happened. To protect his story, after all it is his to tell, I can simply say that reunification with his birth family was never an option for him. We eventually made it through all of the court proceedings and began the long process of waiting for the agency to find all his paperwork to finalize his adoption. In November of 2015 he took our last name as his own and James' name as his middle name. It was done. He was officially ours. This little boy we loved so much had a home and a family and a future.
Julius James is a fantastic little boy. This summer he will be 5 years old. He will start Kindergarten in the fall. His little mind is inquisitive and quite incredible. We call him our little detective. He can remember the smallest detail and notice so many things others around him miss. He has a sensitive heart that this momma is learning to cherish and nurture on a daily basis. He always thinks of his sister first. When we are out and he gets a treat he always wants to get something for Abby too. He is teaching me about grace and forgiveness every moment of everyday whether he needs forgiven or I am the one who needs forgiven. Don't let his tenderness fool you, he can rough and tumble with the best of them. We are headed out to do that now. It's time to pick up my two fantastic challenging children from school. It's too nice to be inside today so we will go celebrate at the park.
God is good. So very good. As we look to add to our family again we are trusting and waiting with eager anticipation for how He will surprise us yet again.