Meeting Andrew that first time motivated us to get the paperwork side of his placement completed ASAP. Because he was in Texas, and we were in NC, we had to complete the homestudy before getting consent from the ISPC (Interstate Compact) to cross state lines with him and take legal custody.
So essentially, we drove cross country (from AZ to NC) in four days, moved into our new missions house, and had our first social worker visit the very next day. We unpacked the trailer, organized everything, and promptly reloaded it, for a 5 day conference in eastern NC. During the 2 days we were in the house, I was able to change our legal residencies and obtain new drivers licenses! I maximized every second of my days and nights during the next two weeks, even while continuing with meetings and travel, and we had our completed homestudy in our hands in only fourteen days.
I texted daily with the other mom, and we sent lots of pictures and videos back and forth. We began skyping just about every day, and those late night conversations with a little wide-eyed boy will forever be imprinted on our hearts. We sang together, we laughed together, we slowly became his new mama and daddy through our daily conversations.
The emotional roller coaster (combined with many exhausting days of paperwork and sleepness nights) of those weeks was unimaginably difficult. Unlike our three previous adopted children, this child was in a family already. Our thoughts would overwhelm us many times.
“What will he think of this life-altering change?”
“How can someone give up their child?”
“How will we ever convince him that we are forever when he’s about to be removed from the first promised ‘forever’?”
“Will they sign the paperwork?”
“What if they change their mind at the last minute?”
The rise and fall of emotions wreaked havoc on my mind and body. I remember one night, when the stress of it all just got to me, and Brent went and quietly ran me a bath.
I spent an hour in the bathroom that night, crying and praying to the Lord. When I came out, I was at perfect peace again. I didn’t have to understand all of the why’s or how’s about the situation–I just had to trust that Andrew was ours and look to the future.
Eight days later, the paperwork was signed, we had both NC and TX ISPC approvals, and on March 24th (just 5 weeks from that very first email) , Titus and I hopped on an airplane and flew to Texas to pick up Andrew!
We arrived at his home in the afternoon and spent a couple of hours with his other family.
I smiled and tried to act normal, but the enormity of what was about to transpire weighed heavily on my heart. My stomach was in knots as I packed up all his special toys and clothes and loaded them into my rental car.
I buckled him into his car seat, took a deep breath, and drove to our hotel. The other family had asked me to stay in town for a couple of days, in case he needed any support or comfort initially.
He was fearless, excited, and very nervous. He covered his emotions with a chattiness that was endearing. We talked and talked and talked some more. We settled into our hotel room and I brought out the surprises we had prepared.
His other mama came to the hotel that night and helped me with his medical needs, and I laughed when he started telling her it was time for her to go home. I had promised him a “t.v. date night with mama” when it was bedtime and he didn’t want to miss that!
He slept next to me and all night long those first couple of nights I would feel a little hand creep over to feel for me.
The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast in our hotel room, then headed to the store to pick up a suitcase for all of his things.
I kept things light and the chatter. play, and giggles continued throughout the day. He was very concerned about food availability and would talk every few minutes about the next meal or snack. I’m sure the environment change was triggering his fears of malnourishment again. I reassured him over and over and over again that I would always feed him when he was hungry. We kept a snack next to him at all times until the fear subsided.
That afternoon after naps we had planned to meet the other family at the park. He was doing so incredibly well that I had agreed to the play time. On the way to the park, however, he began to shut down. The chattiness and eagerness was gone and I began to realize that maybe this wasn’t the best idea. By the time we got out of the car to meet them, he was a mess. Whimpering, shut down, saying his “tummy felt sick”. I almost loaded him up and drove off right then and there, but I really wanted to respect the wishes of the other family, so I tried to encourage him to play a little. The other mama tried her best to engage him, but he was having none of it, and I stood back feeling very awkward.
At one point, I leaned down and whispered to him that I was going to go show Titus the train. I needed to step away from the situation for a minute.
He panicked and ran to follow me, but tripped and fell on his way to me. The sobs started then and tears were rolling down his little cheeks. Both mamas were trying to comfort him and the heaviness of the situation was overwhelming.
He wanted to leave, to go eat dinner, to be alone again. I quietly reminded the other mama that we had agreed that this was all about him and HIS needs and that he was very clearly expressing his needs. He was ready to make the break and they needed to respect that.
They said a quiet goodbye and five minutes later he was back to his perky little self. By the time we got to the restaurant for dinner, he was telling me jokes and planning our night.
That night, as we were walking back into the hotel, he looked up at me and asked me, “Mama? What will happen if another family wants to adopt me? I don’t want any more families.”
Oh my sweet, sweet boy. I choked back the tears as I realized he thought this could keep happening! I stopped right there in the hotel lobby, kneeled down next to him and told him very clearly that there would be no more families. I told him that family was supposed to be forever, and that we would never, ever give him up.
I looked into his eyes and said, “You’re ours forever now, and if anyone EVER tries to take you away, I will call the police.”
He looked right back at me and calmly said, “Good. I want to stay with you.”
And that was that. 🙂
We got up early the next morning, and after one more meal (where he ate enough to stuff a grown man–that stress response triggered again), we were ready to fly home!
Thank you for sharing in our journey so far! In Part 3, I’ll share an adorable video of Andrew meeting Brent at the airport, and how God has written him so amazingly into the Bergey bunch. 🙂