As I called the adoption agency back, I was sure that eventually some bit of information would come out that would bring this venture to an end, just like the others. Maybe this was only about being obedient, so I took a pull up my bootstraps approach to keep any hopes or promises from getting in the way.
I took down the information, pulled the resources together, mailed and faxed all the necessary paperwork. And we waited. We had a family reunion that weekend, and I was hardly able to concentrate on anything at all. Seeing everyone else's babies made my heart ache for what you might be, my own baby, but not my own. This is the labor of adopting.
Monday morning, a week exactly from my first reluctant call, very nice adoption lady called back to tell us that your birthmom had chosen our portfolio. Her next words, "When can you come to Florida to pick him up?" left me breathless. So the whirlwind that has always been you began--renting a place to stay during interstate compact, getting the week off of work, rearranging schedules and appointments, calling Grandma to come and help, getting an extra carseat, trying to pack clothes for a 26 month old who had nothing. Whirlwind.
Friday came and we were ready to begin the drive to you. Grandma went with us in a borrowed minivan because our little car wouldn't possibly hold everyone. The drive down was a complicated mess of trying to keep Chess entertained, trying to follow the directions and trying to contain myself as hope and promise began to squeeze itself into my thoughts. Not yet, not yet, I cried. I had been this close before.
After dropping Chess and Grandma off at the condo, Dad and I drove to the adoption agency to meet you and your foster mom. You were standing at the kitchen playset, all spindly arms and legs, masses of curly hair, unruly, in need of a trim. You turned around and stared blankly at us with the largest brown eyes, empty of their own hope, just waiting for a response. We sat on the floor with you and played at eating plastic food. You were wary, cautious, minimally friendly, only trusting in this most recent foster mom, reaching out for her, not me.
On the drive back, I was a mess of turmoil and whirlwind. I wanted to come in as your rescuer, but you were a survivor. I wanted to embrace you, and you had ventured a wave. What was I thinking that I could mother a 26 month old who obviously had as much hurt and resentment about the picture of life God had painted as I did? The labor had taken another turn. Dilation of the heart is painful.
The next day we had permission to take you to a local playground for a meeting with Chess. Chess, your absolute antithesis. This was going to be interesting. The picture that stands out most boldly to me was getting out of the van, and placing you both on the ground. You glanced at the playground. You sized up Chess. And then you reached out and grabbed his hand and began marching off to the playground.
In the labor years that were to come, when I felt nothing like your mother, when you indicated loudly that you didn't want me for your mother, I would remember that moment and know that you were meant to be his brother. It healed something broken in me to see you do that. To know that in spite of the chaos you came from, you were still a little boy who liked to swing as high as he could go.
To be continued....