11 years ago today a beautiful little one came into the world.
23 days later we got a call from DCFS asking if we would be willing to take her in to our family. I was just returning from a class when my older daughter met me at the door with the message that I needed to call them back. That call literally turned our world upside down.
We were already the adoptive parents of her older sister and were considered kinship.
They hadn’t done their homework. There were things they hadn’t done. They didn’t even know who she was, really.
They wanted me to be ready to give her back to her birth mom. That couldn’t happen, but they didn’t know that.
48 hours later, after an awesome social worker made an informative call to the right people, we were notified that it would be adoption, not reunification. Were we ready for that? No, we weren’t licensed anymore. We could get that done quickly with some classes I had already taken. But even bigger…we had a 14 year old and a 3 year old and thought we were done. Were we READY for a baby? No, but we could get ready.
They wouldn’t let me see her till all of the red tape was done. Her shelter care mom and I started sneaking visits. Someone else had my baby and I couldn’t see her. It was so hard. They wanted this tiny baby girl to change families, with little prior contact with us, that wouldn’t work. She was almost two months old by the time she came home.
She was a hard baby. She didn’t sleep, she couldn’t eat anything without throwing up or getting an upset tummy, she was allergic to fragrances and was just generally unsettled. She had been through so much in those first few months. More than most grown adults will go through in their lifetime.
I had a really hard time bonding with her. I didn’t have that with her older sister; I immediately fell head over heels with her. This little one was a different story. She was making sure I put in the work with her. The state was making sure I put in the work and not making anything easy for me or her. It was a really rough time. My husband and I went away for a few days and I told him I felt like something was really wrong with me because I just couldn’t bond with her. I cried, it all felt so wrong. Then, one day, it clicked. I was her mom, she was my baby girl. We were meant for each other.
She has had struggles. She will continue to have them, most likely for her whole life. She is brave and strong and pure of heart. She tries so hard and will always have to. Things don’t come easy for her. She has to work for them. She amazes us daily. I cannot imagine my life without her in it. I am thankful everyday that she is part of our family. She always has a hug and a kiss. She tells the lady working at the drive-thru window that she is beautiful. She has a heart of gold. (She does, however, purposely try to make her older sister crazy. I’ve been assured that this is normal behavior.)
Someone else gave birth to her, they have that story. I am so grateful that I get to play my part in her life. Adoption has changed who I am as a person. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take blood to be family. It isn’t carrying a child that makes you their mom or dad, it’s being here everyday. I have three beautiful daughters, one I carried in my womb, two I carried in my heart. I am so grateful for each one of them, but today I am especially grateful for my littlest one. So grateful for the unexpected gift she has been in our family.
Photo Credit: Kate Benson