*Sorry for the long post, this is more about processing my own feelings than keeping you informed... but hey, I'll let you 'listen' in if you want.*
I left for my home town, St. Helens just after 6 o'clock yesterday morning. I had to pick up my daddy from his, well, "extended vacation" and bring him back home. I left the kiddos home with Rob (and Brenna for part of the day yesterday) and they'll be joining me here sometime today.
In the meantime, I spent the day having breakfast with my daddy and running some errands with him. By mid-afternoon I was enjoying some time at Starbucks and then had an hour or so to kill before my Aunt Pam got home so I went to Wal-Mart. I like Wal-Mart! At first I went through the store looking for more Christmas ideas, then I landed in the ladies clothing department. I NEVER get to shop in the ladies clothing department at Wal-Mart, or anywhere else really because the kids don't seem too entertained there, and it takes a lot of mental energy for me to pick out clothes to try on, try them on, critique them while they're on then agonize over whether or not it's worth my allowance money.
However, I felt that a new out-fit might be just the thing to console me after disappointing news. So I leisurely browsed the clothing section and carefully selected several shirts off of the $3 clearance rack and a couple of pair of jeans to try on. I have plenty of jeans, but I'd really like some that are 'short' so I don't have to fold them and they don't get wet on the bottom in the rain.
Anyway, I went to try on all 6 items and I must have been in the dressing room forever. It was the first time I was alone, without anyone around me and my mind started to spin, finally beginning to process the decision that was made today. Trying to get my mind off of that however, I focused on the task at hand... getting a new out-fit. All of the shirts were cute, provided I could lose 10 pounds between now and when I'd wear them, but I know better than to buy even cheap clothes with the hopes of 'shrinking' into them. My feeble attempts at shedding a few pounds have been unsuccessful so far. So I vowed to watch what I eat and exercise more. This happens every time I shop for clothes mind you. I think it's something about the HUGE full-sized mirrors.
So I ditched the clothing idea and thought perhaps a pair of shoes would do the trick! Ah, but no shoes were available that were what I was hoping for, so I decided to take one last browse through the back of the store. I'm rolling along with my empty cart and BAM... her bunk beds. Big sister's bunk beds were right there, all set up in the middle of Wal-Mart. We bought those months ago. We bought those for 'her'. She's a girly girl and loves pink, so there's pink all throughout 'her' room. What if the next 'her' doesn't like pink? Why does there have to be a next her. Why not her-her? Well, (thinking positively) now I can print Christmas cards from our family photo we took last month, knowing that that will be our family constellation for Christmas this year. And, we can use some of those days off we've been saving to meet her with to do work around the house. Or, we can take a whole day off to set up for Christmas which is a favorite day of the year for our family.
Oh man, I was so looking forward to doing that with 'her'. I'd played out in my mind that it would be our first family tradition that we'd partake in together. It would be her first Christmas in a real home, with her forever family. I was willing to wait to put up the tree until right before Christmas if that's the soonest we could do it together.
So, I tried to stop the train of thought that was going through my head as to not break down into tears in the middle of Wal-Mart, all by myself. Of all of the days I had to be hours away from my family! So, I got in the car and fought back the tears some more. I was pretty sure if Aunt Pam hugged my too tight when I saw her I'd become a big blubbering mess. I was grateful that the hug was short and sweet and I was able to blink the tears away before they fell from my eyes. We went to Sunshine pizza, which is my all time favorite place to eat. Honestly, it was even better than a new out-fit or new shoes! Then we came home and watched a movie. Okay, I watched 2 movies. I wasn't really ready to be 'alone' in quietness yet. I also surfed the net while I was watching the movies, looking at other profiles, looking at Christmas ads, looking at blogs, reading the news, surfing Craigslist for who-knows-what! It worked. By the time I hit the pillow I was out... no time to let my mind run away from me in bed, without my sweet husband to turn to.
And the best thing about it, was that Pam and Steve would be gone for work early in the morning and I could sleep in as long as I wanted! No kids to wake me up :0)
Ah, but my Grandma called at 8:00 and as much I tried to go back to sleep, I couldn't stop thinking about 'her'. I know that she was probably extremely excited to hear the news yesterday. This was the one family that she really wanted to be a part of. She was hoping that this family would be her forever family. She couldn't have gotten better news. I'm happy for her, I really am, but I'm sad all at the same time.
See, the reason that the decision was so difficult to make is because we were exactly what she said that she wanted in a family. Our home really would have been a great place for her to be. We're a safe, secure, 'normal' home and she so desperately wants to be a 'normal' kid. We're a young, active Christian family. She really wanted to be a part of an active Christian home. However, she also has an attachment to one particular former foster parent, even though she only lived there for a month and a half. She's kept in contact with her over the years and they have an on-going relationship. One of her biological siblings was also adopted by this lady. So, the committee was torn between what she said she wanted in a family vs. the family she said she wanted. Of course, she didn't know that this particular family was one of the two families, so they were trying to figure out how to make this decision in her best interest without telling her too much about any one family. They didn't want her to be able to connect the dots that she already knew one of the families. If she'd been placed with us, and knew the other family was the other family it might have sabotaged the placement before she could attach to us. It gets complicated. It gets even more complicated, but I'll stop there... the details are just details and are all irrelevant details at this stage!
I feel like I know her, though I've never met her. I've read her pages and pages and pages of social history. I've talked to her counselor, former case-worker, and some of her former foster parents. I have spoken with her current case-worker regularly. I have studied her profile and read books about the things that she specifically deals with. I uncovered some things in my research that her case-worker didn't even know about. I know more about this girl than perhaps, anybody. Strange huh? I'll never meet her. There's this 15 year-old girl walking around knowing for the first time in her life who her forever family will be... probably on cloud-nine... and she has a piece of my heart even though we've never met. We'll never meet. I'm sure she'll never inquire about 'the other family' and there's no reason for her to even know we exist. The whole thing really is just strange!
So, all of this to say, it's hard. I'm sad but I know I'll forever be grateful that God worked things out the way he did. He doesn't make mistakes. I've been praying and praying that the committee would make the decision that was in her best interest. Honestly, I don't know how I would have cast my vote had I been on the committee. The case really was a complicated one.
I'm naturally a stuffer of my emotions, so blogging is good for me. I get my thoughts written down and archived, and I get to let you in on a little bit of the fun. Sorry if these particular thoughts are a little bit jumbled. I still need to keep some details of the case private, yet I want to help you understand some of the twists and turns in this particular case. So, if it doesn't make total sense, I apologize.
All of this as I sit in Aunt Pam's living room. Ironically, she's a big part of why I want to adopt an older child. They took me into their home the day after I turned 18. They opened there home to a scared young lady who had spent the last several years wondering what the future would hold. That's a whole other story though. I learned a lot in the time that I lived here. It meant the world to me to see a 'normal' family function. It wasn't a perfect family, but a normal one. I needed to see that normal families existed. I needed to see that marriages stayed together, even after fights. I looked forward to our morning chats before she went to work. Someone cared about me that wasn't so unhealthy that they couldn't see past their own problems. I needed to learn that doing the dishes once a day is far better than once a week, and that normal families ate dinner that didn't come from McDonald's, a box of cereal or the frozen dinner section. Really, in some ways these are little things, but they were big to me.
And now, I have a place to come home to on Thanksgiving. We have a place to stay for the holidays that we are welcomed and loved on and treated like family. My kiddos love it here, and Pam and Steve treat them as if they were their own grand kids. Okay, now the tears are falling...
I look forward to coming 'home'. I'm so grateful that Pam and Steve took me into their home and their family even though I was unpolished and had 'issues' because of my past. They took a chance on me on I'm extremely grateful for that. I can't imagine my life without them and I'm so glad that they opened their homes and their hearts to girl who so desperately needed the love they had to share. They made a huge difference in my life by simply being there for me. I really want to offer that to someone else. I want to pay it forward, because family is about far more than biological connections. I know in time that we will pay it forward, and that God will build our family in his perfect plan.