Monday, April 9, 2012

Family...a beautiful language.

When we met K5, my husband and I fell in love with her immediately.  She was a little shy at our first meeting, but I quickly asked her if she would like to see some pictures I had put together of what our family was like.  She smiled and nodded her head.  I pulled the photo album out while she cautiously moved away from her foster mother to sit next to me.  We slowly flipped through the pages and K5 tried to soak up information of all the kids that were anxiously waiting back at home with my parents.  I discussed the various memories that the pictures brought up, but of course, it was all new to K5.  She was excited at the idea of having older AND younger siblings.  She asked a few questions about my other children and then asked if she could hold onto the photo album.  It gave me a little chuckle since I had made the book specifically for her, not knowing if her social worker would even match us!  To be honest, we had not expected to hear back from the social worker until after we had returned to Colorado!  But after interviewing several families in one day, K5's social worker called us on our cell phone and said that they decided to do a quick vote after the last interview to get an idea of where the staff stood...and we were unanimously voted as the best match for K5.  They discussed this for a few minutes and decided that since we were still in the state until the following morning, that they would try to let us meet K5 that evening.  After meeting with her and flipping through the photo album, we were allowed to take K5 out for dinner and return her to the foster mother's house by 8 pm.

We sure made the most of those couple of hours!    We played at the park and grabbed dinner at K5's favorite restaurant.  The moment I knew for certain that K5 was meant to be with us was during dinner that very night!  We ran through the buffet and squeezed into the booth to begin eating.  K5 and dad sat on one side and I sat on the other side facing them.  Suddenly, my husband and K5's faces lit up and at the same time they said "I want to show you something!"  They then turned their backs to each other and grabbed their straws.  I sat there watching them completely shocked trying to process what I was watching!  They both tore off half the wrapper and then checked to make sure the remaining paper slid easily up and down the straw.  Like an old fashioned gun fight, they turned face to face and blew through their respective straws and wrappers flew everywhere - although dad was a little faster on the draw.  With stunned looks on both their faces...I lost it and started laughing so hard I thought I would never stop.  Then the two of them had to nerve to look at me with their baby blue eyes as though "I" was the crazy one!!!

The next morning, we picked K5 up from her foster mother's house and took her to breakfast before dropping her off at school.  She introduced us to administration and her peers as her mom and dad...and by lunchtime, she was crying because we had to leave for the airport.  We left her with the school counselor and promised to make arrangements to fly back in couple of weeks with some of her siblings for a visit.  We knew it would take a few months to finalize the paper work to move her to a new state.  ICPC is certainly not efficient - but that is a blog for another day.  It broke our hearts to leave her that day, sobbing in the arms of school staff.

As soon as we arrived home in Colorado, we started making plans to return to K5's home state for a visit. Within a few short weeks we were headed back.  After collecting K5 from the foster mother, we headed to the hotel.  We had K5 all to ourselves for the whole weekend!  K1 adored K5 and, at least for a few months, thought she walked on water.  He spent a lot of time laughing and joking with her in the back of the car and teaching her about video games.

She politely smiled and tried to follow everything he was saying...but sometimes just couldn't keep up.  At one point, K1 was imitating memories of spending time with his siblings watching comical videos he had found online.  He had everybody in the car laughing so hard at the memories that we had tears rolling down our faces...except for K5.  She had a confused look on her face and finally shrugged her little shoulders and said, "I am sorry, I don't speak your language yet."  We all chuckled and K1 took the time to explain the memories.  That night K1 pulled out the laptop and showed her some of the youtube videos he had been imitating.  But her words stuck with me over the next several months as she transitioned into our family.

How hard it must be to suddenly land in a home and be told this is your family.  A family with a history of shared memories and interests - and yet none of them shared with you.  Even when somebody gets married, the couple generally takes months getting to know each other, building memories and falling in love.  When an older child is suddenly placed in your home, everybody is expected to "be in love and be a family."  But, it takes time to build that love, those connections and certainly it takes a lot of time to build shared experiences and inside jokes.  That child is bound to feel like an outsider until you make new family memories.

K5 said it best, "I don't know your language yet."  Family language is unique to each family and it takes time to learn the lingo...and with each child added, we add a bit of new language to our dialect.

Family, what a beautiful language it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment