Meant to Be
“We don’t know why.” That is an answer my husband and I have given repeatedly to the question we hear on a daily basis. “What made you decide to adopt foster kids?”
I can tell you there was a defining moment that moved us from consideration to certification. It was a blistery August day and my husband was on his way to work. Seconds turned to eons as he watched a small vehicle plunge down a mild embankment and land topside down in a small stream. Without a second thought or a second to think, he was running down the embankment. A young lady was screaming “Get the baby! Somebody get the baby!” He heard the cries of an infant coming from the car. The infant’s mother was unconscious. He released the baby girl from her overturned car seat and she dropped gently into his arms. He passed the baby up the embankment to another Good Samaritan and quickly turned his attention to the young mother. He knew her injuries were severe. He waited by her side while he waited on the nearing ambulance.
Tragically, the young mother lived on life support for three weeks and then peacefully let go. My husband found peace in the fact that her baby girl was going to be okay and that she would have a good life. That simple fact is what made us begin the Foster Parent Certification process. This baby girl will grow up with her loving grandparents, never knowing her beautiful mother; but what about all of those kiddos who had no one left to love and care for them when their parents no longer could?
Allow me to digress, to six years earlier. My husband and I were at his softball game. While he was swinging the bat and running the bases, I was confiding in a nurse next to me that I was probably in labor. My contractions were coming quickly with short spans in between them. My attention, however, was not on my contractions.
A teenage couple had arrived at the softball game with a very young infant in their arms. I watched as they scaled to the very top bench of the bleachers and winced when they put their baby wrapped in a receiving blanket on the bench. They climbed up and stood over the baby with one set of feet at her head and the other at her feet. I was terrified that they were going to have a misstep and knock the baby to the ground several feet below them. I prayed that they baby did not fall. I was in no condition to take issue with them.
The nurse timing my contractions was now urgently prompting me to alert my husband and get to the hospital. I told her I could not and would not leave until that baby was safe. Thankfully, the young parents scooped the baby up and met my harsh, accusatory gaze as they moved down the stairs and left the complex. I went on to deliver my first baby boy that evening, but never stopped thinking about that baby and wondering if it was safe.
Now, six years later, as my husband and I finished our last portion of certification our case manager said, “You know, I think I have the perfect match for you two!” We assumed she was referring to a single toddler female. However, she went on to describe a sibling group of three that needed a home. I kicked my husband under the table with excitement, and he kicked me back with a very clear “No!” We wanted one. Now we were faced with the terribly painful story of two sisters, six and two-and-a-half, and their fifteen-month-old brother who had little hope of being kept together without us.
Our hearts lead the way, and two weeks before Christmas we became a family of six. Things were very hard. Our entire world flipped upside down. This is when the question started coming up. “What made you decide to do this?” We would answer “We don’t know.” And we didn’t know why. No rational person, with a caring heart or not, would have made this decision without knowing why, would they?
We heard so many harsh comments. “Did you do this to save your marriage?” “Did you even consider what this would do to your own child?” “Why?” “How are you going to make it through this?” “Can you take them back?” We were horrified by the lack of support by some of those closest to us and touched by the overwhelming support of some of those who were strangers to us.
For three months we said, “We don’t know why.” For three months we spent nights holding each other wondering what we had done. For three months we struggled with the fact that we had desperately fallen in love with these kiddos and they had become “ours,” even if we had not become “theirs.” We loved them, but were just another home for them. They had no reason to trust that we wouldn’t turn our back on them. For three months we dreaded the day we would be required to meet their biological parents. I had become so angry with these nameless people. The tears I had dried, my own and these kiddos, appeared to flow in sheets! These babies were angry, hurt, terrified, and probably felt they were completely alone. For three months I prepared myself to meet their parents face-to-face and hide my anger.
My husband and I sat with our case manager in a cramped room around a small table. I was terrified, hateful, angry, and sad all at the same time. The door cracked open and in walked another case manager followed by two young adults. Had my arms not been rested on the small table I most likely would have fallen to the floor. I was whisked back six years to the softball field. My mind flashed an image of two people whose gaze I had met so harshly. I felt my face flush with an intense heat. My heart pounded and it felt as if I could no longer hear. I calmly said “You.” “You.” “You.”
I now knew the six-year-old girl, three short weeks older than my natural son, had been a part of my life nearly all of her own. I had thought about her every day. I had prayed for her, and hoped for her, and cried for her, and now, for three months, I had loved and cared for her as my own. My knowing gaze was now met by the same from two parents who could not believe their own eyes. All hopes of them ever being rehabilitated to care for their children must have been now dashed as they realized I was the mother that was meant to be that baby girls.
We still answer the question nearly every day. But now we say, “It was meant to be.”