We thought it was an Amazon Delivery, of all things.
I had just returned home from a long needed night out with a good friend, a fellow mom of many. My daughter and I bounded to the door, excited to see which of us got to open whatever it was.
My mom-friend-date had been fantastic. We ate, we laughed, we shared our prayers, our joys and struggles. We felt renewed and strengthened by our time together. We relaxed and enjoyed our truth.
It had been a mere thirty-four hours since I sat in a courtroom and heard the judge’s decision. The parental rights of the boys’ biological family were officially terminated, and they were legally made orphans by the court. The judge looked across the courtroom at me and, in front of all involved, declared us their pre-adoptive home. He said it out loud. It was real.
I walked alone to my car. Feelings of joy and love flooded me, while the aching, writhing pain for the loss that was involved still gripped at my heart. Yes, we gained sons. But the hope of another family just died in there, right in front of my eyes. Not because of me, but it happened all the same. All hope for them is gone.
I hadn’t expected to cry. We had known for months that the case was headed this way. We all knew this was the day. But the moment I buckled myself in and stopped to exhale in the seclusion of my car, the rolling waves of reality tumbled to the forefront and took over. I sobbed and wailed, emotions filled the air to a bursting level that no physical body could contain and stay poised and composed. Certainly not mine, anyway.
I wrecked myself, right there in the parking lot.
They will be our sons! But they lost their first mom forever, today. They will take our name! They will lose the one they have known. They will always be brothers and sisters with ours! They may never know those who share their blood.
These are not small things. If they are now my sons, I am the mom who will have to walk through the future with them, and the struggle with these things will come. I can not protect them from it. I cannot undo their loss. There is no escaping or pretending that they didn’t lose as much as they won today.
For thirty-four hours there was joy and hope and rest.
Fourteen months we had supported any plan of reunification with biological family, unwaveringly. We prayed and hoped for the best of God’s plan and submitted to it fully, knowing that the loss of them in our lives may come. I never considered that as pressure. I was never afraid. But when that focus was lifted and we were now given the right to focus on them being ours, I felt like a new mom.
It’s hard to explain how the release of it overcame me. Consider this. We had parented these boys with as much love as any DNA could have offered, from day one. We never made a distinction in our care for them, other than to doggedly offer love and support to their first family as well. But to be told that, after 408 days of parenting them as someone else’s children, we would now parent them as our own. It was a slight shift, made in a few sentences and the short sound of a gavel’s fall.
The future stretched before us with immeasurable possibilities. It felt as exhilarating and joyous as the first day of life with each of our biological children, just as powerful. It was a glorious, staggering reality.
For thirty-four hours.
The following night I went out with a fellow warrior-mom, as I said. I came home to the younger children in bed and my husband and teenager in a deep discussion on the couch. A home of peace and calm. All was well. The sound of the dishwasher running was so soothing. I remember that.
Our actual kitchen. I can hear the dishwash running, just looking at it.
I sat down to join them, in the depths of debate. There was a plate of cookies. It was about 10pm.
It wasn’t Amazon at the door.
To be continued.
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