30 Days Of Truth
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
The first time I met them was in the airport. They came off of a flight from San Diego, accompanied by their temporary foster parents. I teared up when I first saw them, knowing how scary this must be for them. A few months prior their daddy had put them on a flight out to San Diego from Norfolk, not even knowing if he’d ever see them again. They flew away to the other side of the country leaving behind all that was familiar including their beloved Nanny. When they slipped out of the house that morning their mother didn’t know they had left. She had pretty much cracked down the middle mentally and they were not safe there with her while daddy was at sea. Her antics and lack of ability to care for the 4 little darlings resulted in them losing their babies, the state of California, who had control since the nightmare started there, ordered the kids returned to state custody. Intent was to place them all for adoption and we knew no one was going to take 4 kids, ages 2, 4, 5, and 8.
My ex-husband had been raised in foster care until he was 7 years old. When I first mentioned my cousin’s children to him, he told me no way, we were not taking one of the kids. My cousin’s sister had hoped a few family members would be able to care for a child or two and at least get them all in one city. Pete has a tough shell around his heart but there are cracks there, and his memories of foster care got to him. He decided we’d just take all 4 kids for a few years until my cousin would be state side and able to make arrangements to get his kids back.
That was how we became the Brady Bunch of sorts. That November night in the airport waiting area we became foster parents to these 4 kids. I had received a folder on each child, complete with photos and medical history, and anything my cousin could think of to describe the kids. I suspect the nanny, an angel if ever there was one walking this earth, supplied much of the information. I would consult her several times in the coming year. I did my homework, read the materials over and over, but nothing prepared me for seeing those 4, scared little faces, uprooted for the umpteenth time, clinging to their temporary parents. My first insight to their fragile state was on the way home. The 8yo asked me how long they were staying with us, and I said at least a year. He asked if that was longer than 30 days. Then again when we got home, and the girls, 5 and 6, discovered that their daddy had brought me their bedroom furniture and clothes and they were jumping up and down clapping about their things being there. They insisted on calling us mom and dad rather than aunt Marti and uncle Pete, and if that made them feel more stable we were fine with it.
That night my family was there to help welcome them, we had a big feast of pizza, it was complete chaos, and then after they were tucked in for the night and the house was quiet and I was laying next to Pete in bed and said “what have we done”. I was just as scared as the kids. He wrapped around me and said “it’s not so bad, 14 people left and went home, only 4 are up there”.
Two weeks after their arrival, Pete came home one afternoon, and the 2yo spoke his first words (the social workers and other foster parents said he couldn’t talk), “oh, dats ome” (oh dads home). I cried again. I did a lot of that for the first few months. Like the day Pete had to break the 5yo baby’s heart. She asked when she was going to get to see her mommy again. She had been told somewhere along the way that mommy was very sick and in the hospital. No one had told her she’d never see her again. Pete had to tell her that day that she was not going to see mommy again, and she sat in his lap for 2 hours and sobbed her heart out. Tough old dad held her and cried along with her. I spent an hour curled up in her bed that night repeating the tears until she finally cried herself to sleep. Life is just a bitch sometimes, and to all the wrong damn people!
For Christmas my sister found an ornament, after searching everywhere, that had 8 snowmen on it and had it personalized. Me, Pete, our 2 kids, and our 4 babies names, one per snow man. I hung it on the tree, and later noticed the 8yo boy standing there just looking at it for the longest time. Then I heard him whisper “wow, we really are a family now”. No one told me I needed to stock up on tissues for this adventure, another boo-hoo moment.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, being parents to 6 kids is not easy, especially when you go from 2 to 6 over night. 2, 4, 5, 8, 15 and 21. We had our hands full. But we did the best we could to make it fun. Hubby home schooled the 8yo to get him up to speed, and rather than the 5yo going to kindergarten we held her back a year to give her time to adjust to her new life without her mom. I changed my hours at work to 3 days, so I had 4 straight days with the kids. We had fun days each week, like crazy hair day when we’d wear our hair in wacky styles. Or pajama day when we stayed in our jammies all day because we could. We had dessert first nights on Friday, if you didn’t eat all of your dessert you didn’t get dinner. Needless to say it wasn’t long and we quit making dinner at all, it become dessert for dinner night and was a huge hit. Friday was also movie night, oh Friday mornings we always made what their dad called, Wild Turkey Surprise (and I called Turkey Poop Pancakes), chocolate chip pancakes. The kids totally loved all the ‘special’ days we could come up with, it gave them fun and we all looked forward to them. And Pete and I found our inner child again.
The kids became Bengal fans (hard to avoid living with us), and were a huge part of our life for a year before dad divorced mom, got the nanny to join him in Virginia and was able to get his kids back. We stayed in touch at first frequently. They came to see us for Christmas that next year and then again in the summer. I stayed in touch with the nanny often at first but over time life went on and little by little we lost contact. We’re on each other’s Facebook and so I get to see how the kids are doing. I never intended them drift away, they took a big piece of my heart back to their daddy’s when they left.
Every Christmas that ornament is carefully unpacked and I hang it in a visible spot. Every time I see it I pray for the kids, and for the nanny, Crystal, now their mom. Yes their fairy tale had a great ending, daddy married the nanny and she rocks!