We didn’t know what we were signing up for.
Even when expecting parents are — well — expecting, they don’t really know what they’re signing up for.
Parenting, I’m learning, is an art form of improvisation mixed with exasperation. But we love our kids, so we let them live another day…
On our ride home with N, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
As soon as we got home, I had to head out to a trustees meeting — which was where I really wanted to be… And during the meeting, I’d get text messages of this new journey we began. Pictures of him smiling in the tub; wearing his pajamas we bought a few hours earlier; meeting his new teddy bear; lying down on his new bed… and I had the honor of listening to the termite problem that’s not quite a problem yet but will be a big problem if we don’t do anything.
N quickly latched onto my heart. And I was not looking forward to the time when we’d have to say goodbye. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I didn’t know how foster parents did it. Just the thought of saying goodbye to N had filled me with anxiety and sadness.
Each and every night, I’d tell him “RayRay and JoJo (the names he called us at that time) are your family too. We’ll love you always and forever. Always and forever, buddy.”
I knew that he’d be in my heart and thoughts for the rest of my life — wondering where he was; how he was; who he was becoming; what he was doing all the while hoping and that he’d be well and doing well. All the while knowing that I’d probably be — at best — a distant feeling for him later in his life.
And I don’t know why that made me so profoundly sad. We weren’t in this to be remembered by the child. We were in this to make sure that this child is loved and placed in the best position to succeed while we had this short time together. Saying goodbye is part of this calling. My head knew that. My heart probably would’ve never caught up.
All I had were the words of “always and forever.” And I sincerely meant that because he’d be in my heart, always and forever.
And at this point, I hope that you understand I’m just solely talking about my experience and my emotions because I don’t want to speak on behalf of my wife who has her own experiences and stories to tell.
But on this day — June 24 — last year (2016), we sat in front of a judge, answered a few questions, signed a whole mess of papers, and officially became parents of N.
But, man, that was a hell of a season of our lives. So many things were up in the air. Do we adopt N or not? Are we moving or not? Are we going to transfer out of the conference or not?
Then we made the decision to go through the adoption. But the court date to terminate parental rights kept getting delayed. It didn’t become a huge issue until I started exploring the idea of moving out of state.
Do we go to Texas or not? How does this affect the adoption process? Really God? Texas?
We cut it close. On June 24, we finalized the adoption. On June 26, we said goodbye to Santa Barbara.
I have to admit — I never liked the phrase “gotcha day.” I mean, I get it and it’s beautiful in its own way. But also — it sounds like I’m kidnapping him too or something. “Gotcha! Now you’re coming with us! Muhahahahaha” *twirl mustache*
Or, like I caught him by surprise. “Gotcha! Now you’re coming with us! Muhahahahaha” *twirl mustache*
Or, maybe it makes him sound like a Pokemon, which at one brief period of his life, N was like a Pokemon because all he said was his name.
*A wild N appeared*
*JoJo used Ice Cream. It’s super effective*
*JoJo used the poké ball*
*Gotcha! N was caught!*
“Now you’re coming with us! Muhahahahaha” *twirl mustache*
(It should be noted that at the time of writing this, it’s 110am and we spent most of the day moving… and I’m not probably won’t remember to edit this before it goes live — so forgive me if there’s more mistakes than the norm.)
The most joyous thing about this is that we’re now in this forever. “Always and forever” is no longer a concept or a wish or a memory — it’s our reality. We’ll get to witness him growing up. We’ll play a huge part in shaping him into the person God is calling him to be. We’ll also have a huge part in screwing him up — as all parents do to their kids.
As I mentioned, it’s 1am. I’m getting a bit delirious.
I’m sitting in the dark in our new house, with a makeshift desk made out of unpacked boxes.
I hear him gently snoring from the other room.
I hear my wife stirring in her sleep.
And I can’t tell you how overwhelmed with joy and gratitude I am in this moment.
We are ohana.
and how blessed of a life we get to experience…