They were so young when we picked them up from the social worker at the hospital, we naively assumed we wouldn't have to deal with any of the "demons" of their past, I mean really, how much could they remember?
Let's just say there are connections to the biological families we are born into, that run deep. In a family where everything works as God desires, those connections are a blessing. However, in cases where families are so dysfunctional that they don't remain intact, those connections are a curse. My boys can't verbalize all that they lived through the early months of their lives, but don't be fooled, they do remember.
Last year, November 21 our adoption was final. We became forever family. We picked them to be ours, after a 3 year labor! A month later their sister who some of you know, because she also lived with us for a while, was also adopted. That was great news too, but we were still heavy hearted.
When I picked Elijah & Isaiah up from the hospital, their "momma" was there too- she was 8 years old. She wasn't really their momma, but in their eyes she played that role. She had been their caregiver on multiple occasions- left alone in their apt. to care for them. We got them on a Monday afternoon, she had been caring for them since Friday- with no adult supervision. She cradled Isaiah in her arms and stared me down as I began to cuddle and love on Elijah. She was brave, and loving. She was the one who could tell me details that a mom needed to know- like which formula Isaiah took - (the can with purple on it.) Foster care was not new to her, she had been there before and knew exactly what it meant. Still she did the right thing, and in return took all the blame.
In November 2009, while we were celebrating the end of a long journey, hers was beginning anew. She was now "free" to find a forever family; but there wasn't one. Oh, we considered it, but knew that it was not the best thing. So, we prayed. We checked on her. We sent pictures of her brothers. We knew she worried about them and asked about them. Adoption scared her- and she reacted like most kids do. She tested.
Fast forward to November 20, 2010, National Adoption Day! We had already planned to join in the celebration- we want our boys to remember how special that day is for our family and it was the 1st Anniversary of their adoptions. But, the day took on a new excitement when we were asked to surprise their sister, and join them for her adoption!
Rex and I were so happy for her. We understand the love required of her new mom and dad to accept her, just as she is. We understand what they are promising to do- because we understand what her past is. We also understood that by walking into that courtroom, we were about to open a door. A door that once opened cannot be closed, at least not without consequence. And, our boys are still struggling daily with their own grief and memories and demons. Just explaining why she had a different first name and last name was a task. But we believed it would be worth the risk.
We expected Elijah to recognize her and understand who she is- but didn't expect the reaction Isaiah had. Connections.
It had been more than 2 years since we had seen her. We made her a little gift- with lots of photos.
Isaiah would say.. "I need to check on my sister" and off he'd go find her.
She drew him- he loved it. She is in advanced art. Isaiah loves to draw. Connections.
We played and ate lunch, and laughed. I watched her chase her brothers, and whisper "I love you" to them, when she would catch them.
Then, we had to say goodbye.
It was a day I wouldn't trade for anything. But, it also brought a week that we anticipated, and prepared for. We left the school last Saturday, and they haven't said a word about "my sister" but I know they are thinking about her. I know because they can't control their emotions. I know because they want to be near us all the time. I know because they acted up at school. I know because Isaiah's nightmares continue. I know because when they get mad, or sad, they want a new family. And why wouldn't they? That's what they know.
No matter what they throw at us, we are changing that for them. We will love them until they are secure. We will love them until they are stable. We will love them until they feel safe. We will love them until the nightmares are gone. We will love them no matter what.
We will see Aariqua again- connections you know.
And, we will teach them that sometimes in life, you can pick your family; but once you are an Allen- you are an Allen forever.
We are forever family!