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It sneaks up on you.

One day they're struggling, angry and stressed, not sleeping well. They have tantrums every hour (or every five minutes). You don't know them well enough yet to anticipate their triggers, and so EVERYTHING becomes a trigger. You're on edge, constantly problem solving, every old routine thrown off kilter. Your whole life feels like an organized container of small objects that someone dumped out into a bucket and shook, sending everything out of place.

You pull them close, this unfamiliar little body all elbows and knees, this tiny person that doesn't know how to melt into you when you hold them yet. You kiss their face and try too say all the right things, even if they're screaming and arching their back away from you.

One day they sleep in for the first time, and you startle awake to the sunlight streaming in a little bit brighter than usual. Did they have a night terror last night? You don't think so. When you open the door to their room they are not crying, not screaming, but smiling up at you. A first! You settle the weight of them on your hip, and they feel familiar there for the first time, a small miracle that goes largely unnoticed by the two of you.

It sneaks up on you.

One day they start calling you Mama. Which day did they start that? You can't remember. It's exciting at first, then just becomes part of the background noise of your days. Their small hand fits inside yours like it's always been there. You start to know them well, to anticipate the storms better. Their anger gives way to sadness and for the first time, and they run crying to you when they're upset, not to hit out at you but to get a hug from Mama. You pick them up and they melt against your chest, frantic breathing giving way to a soft humming as they nestle their face into the side of your neck, allowing themselves to be comforted by you for the first time.

It sneaks up on you.

Small moments add up to create the big moment, the moment when you realize that your new little person just feels like they've always been there. The other day a friend, thick in the middle of adding little people to her family through foster care, asked me, when does it start to feel normal again? When, she asked me, does it just feel like normal life?

I thought about it. Looked over at our littlest guy splashing in the creek. He turned and smiled at me, the sun on his face, toes in the clear water, his eyes joyful. Right where he belonged. I thought about those first few weeks, the strangeness and the sleepless nights, the many tantrums. The laying awake worrying about his little heart.

It takes a while, I told her. It sneaks up on you, and one day life just has a new normal.

Better than you could have imagined during those tough days, those long nights.

And so worth it.

Our littlest guy is adjusting so well you guys. And I'm so very grateful. Excited to make it official with him THIS DECEMBER!!!!!!

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