The kids are home for winter break, currently Mikayla,.Everett, and “A” are playing High School Musical Wii. (A is a 4th grader I babysit, and have babysat since he was in diapers. We moved away for several years and when we came back his mom found me and we’ve been watching him ever since. I don’t write much about him for privacy reasons but his family has become like my second family.) Everett thinks he’s a rock star, its too cute he is screaming the songs at the top of his lungs into the microphone and it’s blasting through the house. Cady is at the clinic with James playing vet assistant. I think we’ll take the crew to Chuck-E-Cheese for lunch/afternoon. Yesterday the girls and I took Everett for his OT/PT and they were jealous they couldn’t get in the swing with him, but they did have a good time. Then we got his haircut-he got a fade for the first time and has an awesome edge, even has some down the side-its super cute, little manish cute. Then we went out for lunch and last night out to the movies as a family.
He’s going to be 3 in almost one week!!! Hard to believe he has been my son for 2 years, it feels like yesterday I drove to the foster home to meet him. I was so nervous-just to meet him and Lorie can tell you, it almost didn’t happen. We were homestudy ready through a private agency and planned on closing our home as foster parents. The worker who told me about Everett told me about him as I was buckling two babies into their carseats and trying not to break while I whispered my goodbyes. When she explained “I have this baby boy who’s plan is going to be changed to adoption, would you be interested?” I told her “no, absolutely not, done with foster care.” She smiled and said “give me a call and I”ll tell you more about him.” I had no intention of calling her. ZERO. Then this nagging voice kept telling me, “give her a call…” I ignored Miss Intuition as long as I could, eventually relenting to her incessant nagging. I was then given the name and phone number of the foster family he had been with since 3 months old. The foster mom kindly discouraged me from pursing Everett as our son. She told me she did not feel that this would turn into an adoption situation-because until that month-his birth mother had been trying to work her parenting plan, she told me about his behaviors and food issues, she told me that he has breathing issues, she told me that if I met him I would fall in love because he was quite possibly the most adorable baby she had ever seen…..she told me how funny he could be, about his dimples and eyelashes, and finally she told me that she didn’t think we knew what we were getting into as a white family wanting to adopt an AA boy. I explained to her that she was most likely correct in this assumption but that we had thought on this for several years before deciding to be open to all races, we’d already had several AA and biracial children come through our house and leave impressions on our hearts along with lessons well learned about how people view our family. This was not something we chose to do fly by the seat of our pants. So we talked about the race issue long and hard and I got the distinct impression that this foster mom would not let him go unless she felt good about it. We also spoke of the trials and loss we experienced as foster families. We spoke of the fact that Everett’s worker was quite possibly the best social worker either have had the privilege to work with, one of those angles walking around as a human being. And knowing the worker the way I did I knew she would go along with what this foster family wanted, because this foster family-while very different from our parenting styles-is one of the best out there. Her husband is well known, they are a pillar of the AA community in our area. If they chose to parent Everett ,despite the foster mother’s feelings that he belonged to another family, the worker would be more then happy to go along with this. On top of all that. I had the spiritual feeling that I had a son out there, one of African heritage and I wanted to find that child, the one I felt, the one I knew was there. I didn’t want to make the wrong choice. James has never helped much with this, he’s always like “whatever you feel, I trust your judgement” so it was all on my shoulders. On top of that I didn’t think I could survive another goodbye, specifically one in which I was told it would be adoption and let myself feel that all the way, and then have a child ripped away AGAIN. I couldn’t do it, I told myself over and over again. Private adoption was the safest choice but that nagging Miss Intuition wouldn’t let me let this go. So we arranged to meet.
On a cold February morning, after record snowfalls, I timidly drove through the neighborhood I had left my first foster son in. Emotions were triggered as I drove past the place I spent so many hours with Denny and his mom during and after the reunification process. Prickling memories of my little Denny love and missing them. They’d recently relocated to NYC (not planned-never got to tell them goodbye) and we were no longer in contact. I’d received one phone call late one night letting me know they were okay but after that I couldn’t find them, they were and are gone from my life. I was already wiping away the tears and I almost didn’t leave my car. I almost picked up my cell phone. I almost called and told the nice foster mom “sorry, but we decided not to do this.” But I didn’t. I turned the car off and I walked across the street with the snow so cold it squeaked beneath my feet. I knocked on the door and nobody answered. I rang the bell and nobody answered. I turned to walk away and began walking back to my car thinking, “okay, this was a sign.” Then I heard a voice call my name as the door opened. Apologizing, she had been tied up with the kids. I remember talking off my boots. A healthy mess of toys and baby items spraled around the house. And I walked in the room and that was it, one look. It was like we always knew each other. He smiled at me with those dimples and reached up with his hands from his walker-nothing else mattered. The foster mom went to get him a bottle, it was his scheduled feeding time, and I scooped him up. He let me hold the bottle and snuggled into my arm as I fed him, he smiled through sucking on the bottle and I cried. The foster mom cried. Everett reached his hand up to my face. There was a peacefulness during those minutes, a just rightness, a this is meant-t0-beness a silence that told me all I needed to know. I had found my son.
After that it didn’t matter that he had behavior issues or health problems. When his angel social worker took her life-that was hard-oh that was hard, I loved her, I missed her, I grieved for her. Then the legal department tried to hold up our adoption plans, his mother had legally abandoned him, I knew our angel would have fought for us, still I knew he would be our son. Then they reassigned his case the the new worker. She began to look for family members. She found an “aunt” and by a small miracle I had already me the aunt. The week our social worker died I said “yes” to a 6 week old “AA baby boy.” Who ended up being a 6 week old AA baby girl. The “aunt” was the baby girls “godmother” and she knew me, not only did she know me, she (in her words) “loved me, thanked God for me, and thought Everett belonged with us.” Without Maya we may have lost Everett as this point. But like all things in life you never know how one choice will affect the bigger picture. I wish the reason I felt like Maya was to come to our family, after saying “no” to so many placements that summer and then knowing I was to say “yes” to her (thanks Miss Intuition) was for the purpose of adopting Maya-but it wasn’t. We also were exposed to other family members through Maya, some did not support us having Everett but they were in no position to do anything about it. One of them found his “father.”
I was ambushed outside of social services building picking up baby Maya. It was the first time I had heard of this man. I was in shock, but Miss Intuition told me to give him a hug and tell him how much we loved Everett that day. He thanked me and I could tell it was genuine, he told me he felt he was Everett’s father. The door was open to the van, waiting for baby Maya, and he saw Everett. I was angry and confused and wanted to call security, but nobody was in sight. If I could describe this man, the “alleged” father in two words I would say weak and sad. He looked as if he had health problems, not old, but walked like an old man.
In 2 weeks we had an important hearing, one in which Everett’s plan was supposed to be changed to adoption. More specifically WE were to be the family that would adopt Everett. All other avenues having been pursued. That important day this man came to court and ruined this carefully constructed plan. He was drug there by a woman I also met through Maya. She was a sister to the “aunt” best friends to Everett’s birth mom, and she wanted Everett. She had a history with CPS with her own children and was not a viable option for relative placement or she would have taken him from us. She had a vendetta against CPS, against foster families who “steal” children and she was going to take it out on us. Even though I was shaking and angry at this man something softened me. I wanted to shout “THIS IS MY SON, where have you been the last 2 years of his life!? Where were you when he entered care almost 2 years ago? Where were you on the days I spent with him in the hospital….” The angry thoughts went on and on… But Miss Intuition wouldn’t let me, instead I wouldn’t let the judge put a protection order on him prior to the paternity being settled because I knew it was the wrong thing to do. I thought it may start a fight and I didn’t want a fight. Deep down I knew the man had a kind heart. The judge did tell him to never again show up at the county building. Then the judge said something that stopped my heart. If paternity established him as Everett’s father they would begin visitation. ….VISITATION!? What!? Yes, Everett’s case would start from scratch because if this man was his “father” he had every right to work a parenting plan. Then I really did almost loose it. This was the one time James was with me at Perm. hearing. He held my hand and I squeezed his to hang on.
When it was over we walked towards the heavy doors, I turned my head to see the middle aged AA man, object of my mamma bear anger. I wanted to rip his eyes out for a second and then I saw him, so weak and sad looking and instead I was going to grab his hand and beg and cry until he dropped this and let us adopt Everett. I had been instructed not to say anything to him, he was told not so speak to us. So I couldn’t explain why he should walk away, that we would love Everett as our son and that he didn’t need to do this out of a sense of guilt. He wouldn’t meet my eyes. He was dressed in his best clothes, hobbling with a cane. My husband had walked through the door. I was holding it, and suddenly the overwhelming urge to let the door shut in his face overcame me. It happened quickly. I knew if I let it close it would slam behind me and he wouldn’t be able to grab it because of his cane. But Miss Intuition told me to hold it open for him, and so I did. And then he looked in my eyes and smiled and said softly, “thank you.” And at that moment I felt his “thank you” was more then just for the door. I saw his eyes water, he walked past me, and even though I was scared I wondered if we would see him again. We didn’t. Everett’s “easy” adoption in total took 1 year and 9 months to make it official but I always knew he was our son.
And just like I knew Everett was going to come I know there is a baby girl. What is funny about Everett is I never had a name for him-because his birth mother gave him the perfect name. A name for this baby girl came to me. She told me she wanted to be named Emma, now I love that name, but I also would never have chosen that name. She also told me she wanted my mother’s name as her middle name. I love my mom, but that would not have been my choice either. So little Miss Emma Ruth. I know you are coming and I want you to know I believe you are my daughter, and I am impatiently waiting for you. So come home soon, okay?
Picture of Everett’s First and Second Birthday’s soon to come-his 3rd birthday pictures!