The Wind in My Ears

Myra FamilyIt was about 1:00 on Thursday afternoon when we got an email from our adoption attorney. How does 2:30 tomorrow sound for your adoption? It was like wind rushing in my ears at 60 miles an hour. Our journey was coming to an end! Our baby girl would officially be ours! Memories of our 2 other children’s adoption day flashed in my mind. A million things I needed to prepare, people to call and things to set up. Tomorrow, the threat of someone taking this sweet girl from us would be over.

She was not the first child we had waited for in torturous uncertainty. Our fostering journey officially began nearly 6 years earlier. My husband and I decided that fostering was something we both wanted to do. Adoption was always an option, but never the end goal. We simply wanted to make a difference.

Our license arrived on a Thursday evening. Friday early afternoon the phone rang. “We have a baby boy,” the worker said. “He is 4 months old. Can you pick him up?” This was the first time I felt the wind in my ears. We loaded the car and headed out as fast as we could get there. I’ll never forget his huge, scared blue eyes. The worker told us he was found in a known drug house; there were no parents to be found, and they did not have a lot of information. They handed us a packet of papers and out we walked with this baby.

We knew that night as we lay there and held him, that if we could, we would never let him go. We basked in the glow of parenting together for a month. We loved this baby with all our hearts and felt like, yep, we got this. We decided to alert CPS that we were ready to throw our hats in for another child. That very evening we received a call. There was a tiny 4 week old baby girl. She was picked up by law enforcement, alone in a car seat on the corner outside a teen shelter. The worker said she would be bringing her directly to us. She said she was very dirty and very tiny.

When the worker arrived, my husband greeted her first. I will never forget the terror in his eyes as the social worker handed him the car seat. He turned her around and handed her to me. I have never in my life seen a baby that looked so close to death. I use the analogy that she looked like a baby bird that had fallen from the nest, tiny, shrunken, dehydrated, grey and quiet. Again, a stack of papers and off the social worker went.

We took her inside, unwrapped her and just held her for a few seconds. What to do? I took her to the bathtub. The skin around her neck came off from all the rotten milk and filth that had been left on her. The entire time, she just lay there looking at me. Big, brown, sad eyes. She never made a peep. My heart told me this tiny 5 pound baby girl already knew that if she cried, nobody would come. I vowed to show her love and safety. She quickly won our hearts.

The two babies bonded to us and to each other. They were 4 months apart and essentially emotional and psychological twins. They learned to trust and love, and we learned the chaos of caring for two tiny babies. The love overwhelmed us. The fear overwhelmed us. There were so many twists and turns in both of their cases. Visits, court, doctor appointments. It was an endless cycle. Both sets of biological parents were so inconsistent with contact. We would go months with nothing.

Then out of the blue, bio mom would show up and visits would commence again. The fear would return, both for us and the babies. These women were strangers to them at this point. They gave birth to these precious babies, but the babies only knew fear with them. Night terrors followed after visits for our son, and our daughter would scream through the visits which often ended early with a phone call to come get her.

The state drills reunification into you during training; reunification is the state’s first goal. That word is hard to remember when you have nursed babies back to health, watched them grow, rocked them through the night as they cried and loved them. We lived our lives and functioned daily as a family. People would always comment, “He has your eyes. She has your smile.” It all appeared normal from the outside; yet, inside there was this orb of fear. I locked it inside and tried not to acknowledge it, but it was always there.

A little over a year later, we had an adoption date. Both of our babies would forever be our babies. We adopted both our son and our daughter on the same day. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. The fear that someone would show up and take our children away was gone. They were ours. We took some time off after the adoption to enjoy this new freedom. Out of state trips, doctor’s appointments, bumps and bruises and no emails to social workers. No home visits. No fish bowl. We felt complete and our hearts full.

Eventually, we decided to open our homes again to short term foster placements. We provided respite and care to another 10 babies over the next 4 years. Babies would come in and stay awhile. We would love them, and then they would move on. Back to parents, on to other family and even on to our friends to be adopted. Our daughter’s birth mom had 2 more children back to back. We were approached to take these kids, but our babies were still so little, we just didn’t think a long term potential adoption placement was right at the time.

It was the hardest thing to say no to these kids. But, ultimately, they were both placed and adopted by my best friend. She is their true mama, and I knew we made the right decision. We felt whole and complete and never planned to adopt again.

And then on April of this year, we brought home this tiny preemie girl. We never expected to get swept away with our feelings that this child would be ours. Hers was such a unique situation. Her parents’ rights were terminated almost immediately. There was no appropriate family and adoption was quickly the plan for her. Our family all loved this baby girl. She was the ray of sunshine our family didn’t even know we were missing.

On December 30, 2016, the judge invited our son and daughter to the bench to crack the gavel and declare that their sister was ours. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and joy that I could not speak—I could not think. We drove home that day and the tears came. That evening I cried and cried. It was that fear being released. It was so intense and so immediate; it took me completely by surprise. I awoke the next day to my daughter’s face and knew a peace that I had never known before.

Our family wasn’t created in the traditional way; yet, we are a #100PercentReal Family. We respect the biology that created these beautiful beings and will always be grateful for it. That being said, I believe they are our soul babies, conceived in a spirit womb and led to us by a higher power. We would have it no other way. For out of ashes and dust, God created a #100PercentReal Family.

~Julie Myra (#100PercentReal Mamma)

 

*Julie shared this story as part of the FN/AP #100PercentReal Campaign, to help show the world that “real” family can come in many different forms.

 

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Liz Hunter

Julie (author of "Wind in My Ears") is married to her best friend Chris and is the proud mama of 6 children. Adoption has been a gift to her family, and she seeks to share that gift with others. Liz (pictured left) is the admin of Foster Noise/Adopt Peace. She is a Social Worker, Foster Alum, Adoptee, Foster & Adoptive Parent, Writer, & Public Speaker. She is currently in the process of publishing a memoir, chronicling her own 15 year journey to adoption and the 7 years she spent in the foster care system. Her degree specializations are Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, & Criminal Justice.

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