One year ago (over the phone in an Ikea parking lot, cuz out of state adoptions are weird like that) a judge made legal what was already a done deal in our hearts...
At 26, I'm no longer the youngest foster/adoptive Mama I know anymore, and I'm grateful that the days of "Oh my God that's crazy HOW are you such a BABY" are over. But on the one year anniversary of Julian's adoption being finalized, I'm a little nostalgic about that 21 year old girl, who was a big dreamer and stubborn as hell and more than a little stupid. I'm really thankful to her.
I'm thankful that my past self kept showing up for those foster parenting classes, even when it was rainy or a shitty winter day that made her really miss her SUV as she navigated the slick roads in her tiny Kia. Even when she was almost always the only single woman there and definitely always the youngest person in the room. Even when the married couples, holding hands and patting each other's backs during class, clucked their tongues and shook their heads.
Wow....21 years old? How interesting that you're choosing to do this all by yourself.
Psssstttt...If you're young or you're single or you're not what they're expecting, it doesn't matter. KEEP ON TRUCKING! Your kids need you.
I'm thankful for the kind middle aged dad type landlord that agreed to rent me my first big girl apartment and signed the foster care paperwork. I'm thankful for my college friends who threw me a foster shower brunch, even though they stood off in corners of the apartment together drinking their spiked orange juice and whispering to each other "I love Lauren but she is fucking crazy for doing this." It's okay, I don't mind, I am more than a little fucking crazy.
I'm thankful for my first agency that took a chance on me and gave me the privilege of caring for two courageous and complex brothers. I'm thankful for the two years I got to spend learning from them and from their Mama. That family taught me how to be a mom.
I'm thankful to Adopt Us Kids and to King county in Seattle, for posting the pictures and videos that made me pause, coming back to look at them again and again. The toothy smile, improbably big head whipping back and forth. A child who was obviously very delayed, very dependent, yet with an undeniable spark of life in his unseeing eyes and dimply smile, a something special that had me scrolling back to those photos and that video again and again.
I'm grateful to my boyfriend who, when I told him, fake-casually but freaking out inside, that I planned on applying to adopt a little boy with multiple disabilities, did not say what the fuck or why would you do that or I'm breaking up with you but said instead oh, okay and tell me about him and that sounds like an interesting kid to get to know.
And thank god for his team. HIS TEAM! The county social worker who talked with me for over an hour as I paced up and down in my brother's tiny apartment that I was couch surfing in, listening to me talk faster and faster as I got more and more excited, answering my million questions. Quietly telling me when I worried aloud whether a young, single mama who hadn't even closed on her first home yet would be the best fit for this little boy: Lauren, we've only had two interested families in the three years he's been waiting, and both of them backed out after meeting him. There are no other applicants competing against you. You're the only one who's inquired in over a year.
I'm thankful to the no nonsense woman in her 80's who was fostering him, who told me in no uncertain terms that she knew she wasn't a good fit for him but that she knew I would be. I'm thankful for that same county worker for arranging for my flight and hotel to be paid for. And I'll always be more thankful than words can say to my baby sister, who dropped everything to take the cheapest, most indirect, shittiest flight to Seattle with me so that I wouldn't be alone meeting my son for the first time. She was enthusiastic and supportive and took a million photos that I will treasure forever. Always the best ever auntie.
Thank god also for our new agency (Caring for Kids, the agency we are still with today) who dealt with my panicked phone calls after I realized my previous foster agency couldn't facilitate an out of state placement and I needed to switch. CFK got my license switched in record time and dealt with the 6 months worth of paperwork hangups that ensued so that I could finally, FINALLY fly out to bring my baby home.
Thankful doesn't begin to describe how happy I am to have a Mama like my Mama, who showed up with her Proud Grandma shirt on to fly across the country and bring home Julian, all 55 pounds of him, plus his boxes and totes of clothes and therapy items and tubes and wires and feeding pump and wheelchair. 4 long ass emotional days of traveling and transition and eating Walmart deli food and schlepping pounds and pounds of little boy and little boy gear and getting peed on in the airport. She never complained.
So many steps in the broken road of adoption had to line up just right for Julian to end up being our son. And while I'll never, ever be thankful for the suffering and loss that he endured that led to him needing to be adopted, I will always and forever be thankful that I'm the one who got to be his adoptive Mama.
JJ, Mommy loves you so much. Even though it's silly and other people probably think we are crazy, Daddy and I believe that you are a little bit magic and that you know things we don't know and can make things happen with your special you-ness that most people don't understand. So thank you for using a little bit of that magic to choose Daddy and I.
Happy one year adoption anniversary to my silly guy, the Tiny Man, our goober goose, our chunky cheeker, Juby the Jubes. Thankful always for the incredible gift of you.
And last but not least (never least) thankful for S for carrying and sustaining the little life who became our son. Girl, I wish you could be here to see the explosion of joy that you brought into the world. I would give anything to talk to you for even five minutes. I hope on some level you know that this little light of yours is protected and cherished always.