With news of the “father” turning out to be “not the father” after all, we were able to make our way to California with peaceful minds. Sweet Pea got to meet all the extended family she hadn’t yet met, and my husband, quite the beach boy, got to introduce her to the waves and the sand. We had just spent a great day at Huntington. I had taken millions of pictures, as usual, and we were headed back home to my parent’s house when the second obstacle presented itself.
We were on the 57 Freeway when my phone rang. It was Sweet Pea’s social worker.
“Hi, I hope you guys are having fun!” I assured her we were. Then, she broke the news we weren’t expecting.
“So, listen… the biological grandmother and aunt want visits with the baby. I set them up for once a month… the first one will be next Friday at 1pm.”
My pulse raced.
After hanging up, I broke the news to my husband.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
We both were silent for a few moments, trying to process it. I began running all that I’d been told about the aunt and grandma through my head. What was it they told us? The grandma wasn’t in a position to take on the responsibility of an infant, and the aunt, who also happened to be the birth-mom’s twin sister, had two very young children of her own that needed her attention. That was all we’d been told. So we didn’t know what to expect. Would they be nice, decent people? Would they have struggles with drugs and alcohol like the birth mom? What would their attitudes and feelings be toward us?
I looked at my sweet girl, preciously sleeping in her car seat next to me. She was the image of health. In just the six weeks we’d had her, she had plumped up quite a bit, her skin glowed, her eyes shined, and her cheeks looked like she was storing little nuts in them. She was perfect. In fact, that’s how the doctor described her when we’d taken her in for a cough, worried as all new, inexperienced parents are at the first sign of sickness. “Her lungs sound great, her ears and throat look good. The cough should go away on it’s own… She looks perfect.”
Yep. She was. And now, her closest biological relatives, aside from the parents, were going to see how far she’s come. The last they’d seen her was at the hospital in the NICU, tubes connected all over her tiny 5-pound body, as she got doses of morphene to help her kick her un-asked-for meth-addiction straight out of the womb. In my mind, I’d assumed that part of the reason they didn’t take her was because of the uncertainty of how she would “turn out.” We’d been warned by her OT that the likelihood of her having some developmental delays due to the drugs is very high, and that we should prepare ourselves for whatever may arise.
But so far, there were no signs of delays whatsoever. She was perfect. And now, in just eight days, they were going to get to see her. Her healthy, happy smile, her bright brown eyes… and I couldn’t help but wonder… are they going to change their minds? How could they not?
They’re going to want her.
This scared me to pieces.
Attempting to adopt through foster care is risky business. Only 40% ever get adopted. The main hope and goal of CYFD is to get families healthy enough to be together again. Reunification is key. And if the parents are not able to take them, they always prefer biological relations over fostering ones. If they can find a relative to take the child, they assume it’s best for the child in the long run, because she would get to maintain all of her biological connections. Foster parents had no rights until having had the child for six months, at which point we’d be allowed to hire an attorney to fight any attempts of re-placement if necessary.
But we’d only had her six weeks.
This was a big threat.
We were terrified.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from adopting through foster care, it’s to appreciate each and every day. Because you really are not guaranteed any more than what’s in front of you. If a family member steps in and clears background check, the child could be picked up the following day. No apologies.
So, to keep myself sane until the visit, I found I could only do two things.
One, I could pray. And boy, did I pray. I prayed that the visits would be cancelled altogether (although I knew that was unlikely). I prayed that the family would not change their mind upon seeing her. I begged for the opportunity of forever. But, choosing to believe that God was truly in control and knew what was best for our girl, as well as for us, I had no choice but to pray after Jesus’ example. In spite of my fear.
God, your will be done.
The second things I did, was I soaked in every moment with my girl. I studied her face while she slept. I held her little fingers for as long as she’d let me. I watched her eyes light up when daddy got home. I counted her chubby little toes repeatedly, just for the fun of it. If my time with her was limited, I wanted to make the most of it. I wanted to make sure I remembered her smell, the way she sighed, and her crooked little smile. Because even if she wasn’t destined to be my daughter, I had grown to love this girl.
I couldn’t imagine letting her go.
(To continue the story, click here)