The ship had already begun shifting course. For such large, cumbersome vehicles, phrases like “turn on a dime”, “tight turning radius”, or even “quick turn” are the stuff of dreams and fantasy. Change occurs in a matter of degrees, movement barely noticeable to an untrained eye, but with time, north becomes south, east, or west. Eighteen months in the making, the event marked by today merely confirmed and sealed the direction our lives had already started taking.
Finished with the first round of remodeling, the garden established, chickens cooped, occupations well in hand, we felt ready. Hoop after hoop were presented and cleared: paperwork, classwork, bloodwork, casework(ers). Pictures, bios, heartstrings, doubt. How do you know? How do you decide? At the point of giving up, in October of that year, an email with image attached came through. It was him. I sat stunned and breathless, nerves on end, knowing, however you do, doubtless: it was him. I also knew that this photo was only the beginning. Our yes would bring more hoops, each one more critical, culminating in the decision of a State committee, a committee charged with choosing one from three.
As winners, more paperwork & caseworkers, 3-ring binders of why, had to be trawled before we could consider meeting. I watched as we drove to the tidy home in the south sound neighborhood, watched as we walked sidewalk to door, watched as my hand stretched to shake the other. Empathetic, shy, feeling every inch of the awkward, we met our child-to-be at home with the only family he had ever known during his as yet short, sweet, little life. We were expected to play and interact with this child, someone else’s child, someone else who selflessly loved, cared for, and attached to this child, knowing he wasn’t to stay. This selflessness a gift greater than the child himself. The first day of a 2-week whirlwind courtship that led to moving in together, housemates for 9 months. I thought I was ready. I had read the books. I was still reading the books. Baby gates, plug covers, hooded bath towels, and crib; menus, work from home, nap time, bath time, and play. Set.
In time, however, I began to unravel. All that was me, that had been me, things I believed about parenting, people, cooking & food, about faith & family, about happiness & joy, began to shift. This new life connected to mine: the bright set of eyes, the strong little body, the complexity of mind, the heart, joy, laughter, will, took me apart. Over time I had lived less and existed more. Life, disappointment, deferred dreams can do that. It’s easy to become usual and dull. Face to face with this vibrant life, a life I was to love and guide, woke me up. Who was I? What did I want to do and be? What did I want this child to see in me? Beautifully, there are always 2nd chances, always chances for change. Over and over it’s this relationship that illuminates what to change, what to hone, what to discard, in me.
So it’s on this day, the day when the last of the paperwork was completed, when the judge gave her consent, I know I am blessed & lucky. I know I’ve been given a treasure to help and to hold, on loan for only a short time. I take time to remember, to feel it all: the joy, the awkward, the grief, the hugs, laughter, self-stretching, love. Grateful always, it’s now time for pie.