Kirk pulled into the cul-de-sac and parked in front of our case workers white Silverado. My heart was pounding and my head throbbing. I looked at Kirk. I saw it in his eyes too. Did we make the right decision? What if they hated us? What if we weren’t ready for this?
Kirk moved first, “We might as well go in”. I moved, but slowly. It was like in a dream where you can’t seem to get your body to move fast enough to run away from the monster. He took my hand. We walked toward the 2-story house, up the front stairs to the porch, and Kirk reached his hand out to ring the doorbell. I knew now that there was no turning back. Ready or not, here we were.
About 1 year earlier, Kirk and I had gone to an orientation at AASK, the Arizona Adoption of Special Kids. We were really impressed with the presentation and signed up that we were interested in more information on foster to adopt*. We had thought about this for many years. Kirk and I had been married for 16 years and were unable to have children of our own. We felt like this was the right time in our lives to move forward with adopting children.
It took us about 8 months to go through the paper work, background checks, and the 10 weeks of training. Once we were certified, we started to receive e-mails on profiles of children that were available for foster/adopt. Sometimes it was overwhelming to just read the cold hard facts on the kids. Sometimes I wondered if I was in over my head.
About 2 weeks before we met our kids, I got a crazy idea. I called Kirk at work and asked him how he felt about adopting siblings. I didn’t see myself raising an only child and I felt that it would be a hard adjustment for the first child we adopted, to bring another stranger into the home. Ideally, I thought it would be nice to adopt a brother and a sister too. Kirk and I agreed, so I sent an e-mail to my case worker. I got an e-mail back right away. It said, “Funny you should mention that. I will send over a profile that just came through, that you might find interesting.”
We thought the profile sounded right for us, so I called our case manager. He agreed to represent us at a meeting regarding the children. Five families in all sent their caseworkers to represent them at the meeting.
I was getting ready to leave for a movie night at church when I got the call. Out of the five couples, we were unanimously voted to take in Faith and Brian. It was so exciting and scary all at the same time. I called my sister and let her know. I told a few friends at church that night too. It was almost overwhelming to feel all the emotions of the drastic change that we were about to experience in our lives.
1 month later we met with our case worker, the state workers representing the children, their court appointed special advocate (CASA) and a supervisor or two. At that meeting we were presented with all the known facts of the case. Every issue, every single good or bad deed that they had done.
Their CASA had taken a photo of the kids recently and passed it down to us. In the photos, they were hiding behind a tree, poking their faces out and smiling ear to ear. They were so cute. It was Friday and we were given until Monday to make our decision. When we left the office, I remember standing outside with our caseworker and Kirk said, “It sounded pretty good to me. We will let you know as soon as we decide.” Our case manager agreed that this sounded like a good case. When we got in the car to leave we both looked at each other. “What do you think?”, said Kirk. “It sounded good to me”, I returned. “Lets go for it.” We felt very at peace with our decision. I didn’t feel any conflicting feelings or misgivings.
On Saturday, I called the CASA (who had given me permission to do so) to ask more questions. When she answered her phone and started talking I heard the voice of a little girl in the background, “who is that?” That was the first time I heard Faith’s voice.
On Monday we alerted everyone that we decided that we were going to take these kids in. Everyone was excited to have finally found a home that would take both Faith and Brian. Placements for older siblings can be very hard. Faith was 10 and Brian 9. Our first meeting was set for the following Wednesday. We would have dinner with the kids at the foster home where they were currently living.
The state worker told us that she would get to the foster home early and talk to the children before we got there. She would tell them that a couple had chosen them out of all the other children in Arizona, to be a part of their family. She would then show them pictures of our home and tell them a little bit about us. Then we would show up…..
So Kirk rang the doorbell. We heard a little commotion inside. A skinny little boy with big eyes swung the door open. He looked right at me and hollered, “She’s pretty!” and ran back inside. When we came in out of the sun, I saw a little girl in a flowered jumper, sitting on the couch, holding the pictures of our home in her hand.
We sat down and the case worker encouraged the kids to ask us questions. I don’t remember what they asked us. I do remember Faith was quiet and seemed to be studying our faces. Brian couldn’t wait to show us the tricks that he could do on the trampoline that was in the backyard. We were only supposed to stay about 2 hours to keep the first visit simple.
Later, the state caseworker said that she had never seen a visit go so well and it seemed like we all got along so quickly. Maybe she tells everyone that, but then maybe not.
At a photo shoot with friends that night I told them, “I just met my kids and I have fallen head over heels in love with them.”
*Foster to adopt is when you are willing to take in a foster child whose case plan has moved toward adoption. The risk factor (or emotional risk) is higher, because that can change.