Big J, Little J, I want to tell you a story about our beginning.
The day we got you – November 29, 2016 – was just like any other Tuesday in Seattle. The weather was a cool 46 degrees, overcast, and the ground was still wet from morning showers. It was as if the sky had been crying for us earlier. It was a hard day for everyone, your Grandpa and Aunt especially. Your Aunt and Grandpa took the day off from work to pack up your belongings and move you into our home. In this moment I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult and sad that must have been. To love you so much and want something else for you. Giving you to us was the ultimate sacrifice. So badly they wanted you to have a family. Coupled with the tragedy of losing your Grandma just weeks earlier, and the emotions of the holiday season, it was an especially grueling day to say the least.
At noon your Aunt pulled up to the front of our house in her white pickup truck, along with your Grandpa, packed with bicycles, Big J’s skateboard (which I’m still hiding in the garage for fear you’ll break bones and CPS will take you away), helmets, toys and a black basket with a few pairs of clothes, 2 pairs of shoes and 2 pairs of boots. Everything you had in the world. I greeted your family and the three of us stood there somber for a moment, each of us afraid of breaking down in the driveway. It’s impossible to put into words the pain I felt and witnessed. You see, we would later celebrate gaining you two amazing boys in our family (how did we get so lucky?!?), but in that moment it was devastating because, in a way, your Grandpa and Aunt were losing you. I asked a few light questions like “What are the boys’ favorite vegetables?” and “What is their bedtime?” I also asked your Aunt to bring us some photos of your family that I could frame and have around the house so that you’d have some familiar faces and happy memories to think about.
This was the very first time your family had seen our home, the place you would soon call your own. They checked out your bedroom and a few other rooms and then we walked back out the front yard toward the truck. I started to say “thank you” but a half-sob escaped and suddenly I felt embarrassed. My face was hot. “Who I am to cry in this moment?” I thought. “This is their moment. This is about them. Not me.” Just weeks ago you had plans that would take you all the way to Florida to live with your grandparents. Everything changed for you. Again. I’m so sorry. The three of us choked back tears and agreed that we’d see each other back here for dinner. As they retreated to the truck, I closed the garage door and sobbed quietly in the garage for a few minutes. Oh my heart.
My mom, who you call Cookie Grandma, was in the room adjacent to the garage, preparing the house for your arrival. She was so excited. We spent the previous week overhauling your room and the house for you. I have the most amazing realtor friends who donated bunk beds and bedding, some staple clothing, games, puzzles, etc… And the house was filled with gifts for you to open from family and friends. So many people came together to show you love and to support us. It was an exciting time. I’m forever grateful.
We planned this day a week earlier at the Bellevue DSHS office where your social worker and 2 of her supervisors sat around a conference room table, along with your Grandpa, Great Grandma, and Aunt, your CASA (Court Approved Special Advocate) and me. Attending via telephone were several other professionals, including your attorney who would file the court order for you to live with us, and more importantly, give Mauricio and I authority to make all decisions pertaining to your health, education and overall wellbeing. The magnitude of this privilege wouldn’t resonate in my mind until days later. A whole room full of people who love you and want the very best for you sat in this room, planning this day – the day that you would become a part of our family.
It was really important to me that you boys have as smooth a transition as possible. That you wouldn’t feel as though you were being “dropped off” at a stranger’s house. So I planned a dinner and game night. On the evening of moving day, your Aunt, cousins, Grandpa, and 2 family friends came over and we shared the table. We feasted on lasagna, a penne pasta in white sauce, salad and garlic bread (thanks, Costco!). Everyone was happy that night. After you boys finished dinner, you took your cousins upstairs to explore your new bedroom and play games… and for a few moments we forgot that you’d be shortly saying goodbye to your family. Before leaving, your family took you downstairs to the family room where you sat on the couch and took photos together. Then your Grandpa took you upstairs and tucked you in to bed. As they left our house, you both wailed and screamed “Papa! No! No, Papa! Don’t Go!” “PaaaaaaaaPaaaa!!” Mauricio and I sat in silence downstairs. We cried. We comforted you. We cried. It was heartbreaking. And it went on for about 40 minutes. Then I rubbed your backs, and as if by magic, you both fell asleep almost instantly.
This was the day we got you. Everything we hear today from our social workers, CASA volunteer, liaison, your family, and legal professionals tells us that we will be your forever home. During our last meeting with our social worker, she said adopting you will be “a slam dunk.” It’s hard to celebrate that because nothing is ever certain until it happens and because of the loss of your biological family unit. How can we celebrate someone else’s tragedy? But as you both know all too well, plans aren’t always set in stone. Although we pray that we get to have you in our family forever, we also pray that whatever is best for you will happen. God doesn’t always give us a roadmap. We pray for your Mom and Dad to be healthy and to make good choices. And if we end up only being temporary in your lives, know that there is nothing temporary about our love for you.
Nothing is temporary about our love for you.