Tuesday, April 5, 2011
with the idea of becoming a parent again. (Get up, honey, get a glass of water, now, there, there...) No, I don't mean having another baby, I have not gone completely, irretrievably insane. I mean raising another person, by adopting a foster child. Well, to be honest...actually, three foster children.
Here is the story. Two years ago I fell in love, swiftly and forever, with three siblings when I happened to see them on a TV program called "Wednesday's Child" here in Boston, a show that showcases foster children that are legally free for adoption. I still remember it - I was propped up in bed with a book, the tv droning in the background; I was sick with the flu. Three adorable kids appeared on the screen, and I glanced up and saw them on a duckboat tour down on the pond downtown, and was arrested by their seriousness, and the angular beauty of their faces. One was my youngest son's age (then 10, now he is 12,) the next a little girl, now 10, and their little brother, now age 8. I saw them, dressed up for their interview, hoping that some family might notice them and want to bring them home - and something in my heart not only melted, but felt settled, as if I were recognizing something I already had. I was absolutely smitten with these kids. I grabbed an old envelope or flyer from my bedside table, found a pencil in my bedside drawer, and wrote the number down. And then I called it.
Well, there were too many question marks, and too many people that could be hurt instead of helped - my own kids had to be considered first - especially my youngest, who is in many ways an only child, his brothers being 10 and 13 years older, respectively. Getting three African-American siblings all at once? And what about the older boys - how would they feel, as if they had "aged out" of our hearts? And what about our marriage - already busy, where would we land, adding more people who we were committed to? When was it gong to be our turn?
Two years passed, our family having opted for the safe choice - the status quo. I quietly put my tattered envelope with the phone numbers on it back in the drawer. Oh, I had called the number, and gotten the information - we would have to attend courses, and be home-inspected - the usual - and all that was fine. The hard part isn't making the phone call, the hard part is looking at all the faces that need you so much, and making that call - what is best for you? And it was the correct choice for us - at the time. But a funny thing happened on the way to forgetting - these three children lived on in my heart, and to a very real extent in my life, too. I would find myself wondering about the little girl I never met - could I have learned to do her hair? - and the oldest boy, so serious; so intent on his siblings in the three-minute video I had seen; my only glimpse of them thus far. A video artfully made to capture someone's heart and see all that these three children could be. And the littlest boy - did he still love basketball?
The only thing I could do for these three was to pray, and it was thus that I began one of the richest and most mysterious relationships of my life, as a sort of prayer-mother to my unknown kids. My task; to ask God to watch over the children, and to guide us all - three African American kids from the city, and a white family from the suburbs - to each other, if that was His plan for the children, and for my children, too. For us all. To know what I couldn't know, and to make it right, whatever right was. I dumped us all into God's lap, all eight of us, and prayed that although I was not the children"s mother, that in some sense I was as constant as any mother could be - in prayer. In this way, they became mine. And I, theirs.
I was as constant as the sunrise with these prayers, and I still wondered, from time to time, about how they were doing. Their names became names my family knew. My husband dreaded taking me to "The Blind Side," and had to deal with my raised eyebrows pointed right at him when the film was over. "We're not them, and we are not the families in "Extreme Home Makeover," sweetheart, we are us, and we have a lot going on..." the story went. And he was right, and I respect him and his sense of
just how much we can take without staggering under the weight of my good intentions. I am the impulsive one, and he is the thoughtful and more practical one. Together, we are perfect, a finely-tuned machine that has taken years to perfect, and is both strong, and fragile. Still, we never forgot about the three beautiful children dressed up for the video that was meant to make someone love them. Well, it worked, and now, I did.