Dear Mr. and Mrs. M,
The first time I ever learned your names was last Wednesday night as I went through the life books that we were given at our adoption signing last Wednesday morning. Quite significantly, Wednesday was also the one year anniversary of the date I first laid eyes on the three little ones who would forever steal my heart and change my life.
I have known about you since the very beginning - we heard your story when the kids came into our house. We heard about how the children were first given to you, in anticipation of a possible adoption. The facts were few but startling- you, like us, had been "hoping" for the placement of a sibling group to adopt. Like us, you were childless (though I have wonderful step and god-children) and you, like us, were willing to accept a legal-risk placement. Unlike us, you were scared away by the initial behavior of C, C, and little Miss E. You returned my babies to the DFACS office only 12 hours after they were placed in your home.
I know that you will very likely never read this letter, and its fine that way. But there are a few things I want to say, and since this blog will indulge me tonight then the time is just right for me.
It makes me very sad that my children were placed in nine foster homes between the time they were removed from an abusive natural family and finally brought to me. It literally breaks my heart to think about those moves - some after as few as three nights. Their few and scrappy belongings tossed into garbage bags and labeled with sharpies, piled into their caseworker's car as they were driven from one home to the next.
After their first night in our home, Big C asked me "how long are we gonna stay with you?" When I told him, "I hope we can keep you forever," he replied, "but why would anyone want to keep us forever?"
Our caseworker told us little C was "autistic and noverbal." That did not scare us, and neither did the fact that he had been sick with diarrhea for over three months and had unexplained headaches. By the way, he is neither autistic or nonverbal. He has an amazing vocabulary and he loves to talk, laugh, tells jokes, and sing.
Part of me wants to thank you, because if you had kept these three beautiful children, they would have never found their way into my arms. Another other part of me wants to ask you how? How could you spend just a few hours with a five, two, and one year old and decide you wanted nothing more to do with them? How could you walk into the frantic and chaotic world of foster-adoptive placement and expect perfect angels to be delivered into your home? How could you be so unrealistic?
And another part of me, the part of me that is C, C, and E's Mommy just wants to tell you a little bit about the blessing that you decided to forfeit. Big C is absolutely charming, funny, intelligent, spirited, competitive, and handsome. He is a natural athlete and he literally blows me away when he walks onto the basketball court or the soccer field. He is a hard and fast runner, a strong swimmer, a brave bike-rider, a natural and very gifted athlete. He has a few close friends whom he adores, and he is now almost finished with kindergarten, reading, writing, and growing every day. You missed the night he lost his first tooth, his excitement over our new backyard playground, and his kindergarten field trips. You were probably afraid of his language, the profanity, the screaming and tantrums. It was probably too much for you to assume the care of a child so angry. And so you chose not to know this child, but God had better plans for him, and for us.
Little C is the most breathtaking, adorable little boy you could ever meet. Yes, he was as pale as a sheet of paper when he was brought into our home, with a raw and red bottom, unable to be potty trained because of months of stress-related sickness. He was thin - down to 26 pounds, cried constantly, and never spoke. But let me tell you this little ray of sunshine has blossomed into a sparkly, endearing, precocious little boy who one day decided to talk about the Incredible Hulk, and never looked back. He loves church, writes his name, can count to thirteen, goes to preschool every day with a giant superman backpack and runs across the room just to say "I love you, Mommy!" Little C grins in every picture taken and plays well with other children, especially girls. When he smiles, my heart just melts. He is such a gift to us.
And finally, little E - the most enthusiastic creature God ever made. She is like a cheerleader and a cherub all rolled into one sturdy little package with a sprinkle of attitude. She bosses our dogs around, kisses all her fourteen baby dolls goodnight every evening, and loves to sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "If You're Happy and You Know it." Truly, she is happy and she knows it. Our little Princess claps and shouts "Yay!" every time you enter the room, tie her shoes, finish watching a cartoon, finish reading a book or when the car arrives to its destination. She is literally the happiest little one you would have ever had the joy of knowing. From her car seat, she often says "Mommy, dance!" because to her, life is a song and we ought to always be dancing to the music.
The last thing I want to say to you is about taking chances. And maybe this isn't just for you- but its to all the people out there who want to make the world a brighter place. Or, even to the people who "think" they want to make a difference. This is what I need to say - you will NEVER know what you have missed out on when you take the easy way out. When you decide that your comfortable, predictable life is all you want, and you turn your back on someone who could drastically alter your future because you were worried they might drastically alter your furniture.
Yes, our window has been broken. My husband's car has been carved into with a rock. In the fall, I had a huge black eye. Our home has very nearly been set ablaze. Our toilets have backed up mysteriously, and our walls are covered in crayon, marker, ketchup, chocolate pudding, and all manner of things. Under the seat of my car is a Sippy cup, happy meal toy, candy wrappers, cheetos, a plastic dinosaur, schoolwork, and accumulations of something I can only refer to as "unknown substance #47." My kitchen table is forever warped by Easter Egg dye and the banging of silverware. My dogs are traumatized. My new sofa looks like it landed here off the set of Sanford and Sons. But let me assure you, I wouldn't have it any other way. It is unspeakably worth it.
At the end the night, I get to hear these words: "Good night, Mommy. I love you."
So many people refuse to answer the door to the unknown. So many people count the cost and decide its not worth it. So many people give up on broken people and forget that God and the love of a family can put them back together again.
Three little ones - broken by lies, substance abuse, physical abuse, exposure to domestic violence, moved in and out of other people's homes, with other people's kids, pets, rules. Nine different beds in ten months. What did you expect from them?
Finally, let me assure you that you will have another opportunity. Maybe not through foster care, because it is my understanding that the agency who placed the children with you before they became mine has decided not to use you anymore. But rest assured that you will have another opportunity to open your heart. For your sake, I hope you can look past the angry eyes staring at you through skepticism. I hope you can look past the bruises and marks of abuse, and through the grimaced teeth that may even open up and spew a few choice words your way. I hope that beneath all that aggression and fear you can see the tender and vulnerable heart of a child who needs unconditional love and hope.
I even wish that for you.
My life has forever been changed by your choice. I feel overwhelmed when I think about how just a few hours and unrealistic expectations changed the destination of these babies and brought them to me. I am so thankful to God that He gave to me the greatest joy of life through being a mommy to C, C, and E. I do wish the same happiness for you, but believe me when I say it doesn't come for free.
One year later . . . we are part of a miracle, but sometimes miracles are hard work.
All the Best,