09 July 2013

the things we carry

I posted this picture yesterday; with the little story about the elderly man that gave me the crosses.  He quietly approached our family at Subway and gestured to Linc and Frank and asked, "are these your boys?"  After nodding yes, he quickly asked if they were adopted, another nod yes, and with a bit of relief he told us that he was an adoptive father too.  Before leaving, he pulled these little crosses from his pocket for the boys, and told us that the wood was from Isreal (I think, I keep forgetting to fact-check this with Brad).

This will be added to the stories I carry with me.  

It got me thinking of another story that I've been carrying around with me.  I think its time to share it with y'all.  I don't think I ever told you about this unexpectedly difficult event while we were transitioning from a family of four to a family of six.

We were in the middle of the back-and-forth days.  I'd pick Lincoln & Franklin up from the foster parents' house after I dropped the bigs at school.  We'd spend the day at home practicing meals, and naps, and playing in the living room.  After dinner, we'd pack up and drive across town to take the boys back to the foster parents' house.  These were long, hard, exhausting days. 

Caught in the middle, with no clue how long it might last.

On one of these long days, I got a text from the foster momma to call our caseworker.  Great.

Our caseworker was hoping we could "stop by" and be on a panel for one of the foster-parent-training classes.  That night.  Super.

We were less than thrilled that we had been chosen to take this show on the road; we'd been in those classes, and we didn't feel like we were in a position to really offer anything.  We were still in a place where Lincoln and Franklin weren't always thrilled with us being the ones to offer comfort.  The idea of putting the transition on display for a bunch of hopeful future foster/adoptive parents made me a bit of a wreck.  But we were also caught in the middle, and didn't want to be contrary in any way that could possibly make this process take longer.

{Now that I am out of the middle, I don't really think saying "no" would've had an adverse impact on the process, but the thing is, when you are in the middle it feels like it all weighs heavy.}

After dinner, we did our best to make ourselves presentable.  Surely I put my crazy-end-of-the-day hair in a pony tail.  We wiped off four faces and combed hair quickly.  We made sure we had some of those Gerber fruit puffs in the diaper bag and agreed to let Wilson and Walker bring whatever gaming device they wanted.  Although, I do remember suggesting Wilson bring a book to read.  

Because, really, wouldn't that look better while we were on the panel?

On our way there we had to wait on a train crossing the street.  And then reversing back across the street.  And then pulling forward again.  I sent some texts to our caseworker to let her know we were going to be late.  She tried to suggest an alternate route, but we were not familiar with any of the other roads to get to the DFCS office.  I broke into a bit of a sweat.  I did not want to be a sweaty mess when we got there - which I think made me sweat all the more.

We finally made it and  walked in to a full room; 30-40ish people maybe.  Our seats were right up front facing the class.  I suggested Wilson and Walker sit off to the side where some chairs lined the wall - thinking if we could reduce the number in our show, then the presentation might be more polished.  Of course, some "do-gooder" quickly got up and dragged two more chairs right up front next to ours.  Thanks, man.

The caseworker introduced the entire panel.  Our family, an investigator, another caseworker, someone I don't remember, and...

...a boy that wanted a family.  

Oh my heart.

His parents' rights had been terminated, he had no family members to go to. 

Y'all.  I could not look down the line at him.  I think he was 11 or so.

At this moment, I was grateful that I had been so self-absorbed when we walked in that I didn't notice him sitting there. 

I could barely handle it.  

The caseworker graciously started with us so we could leave immediately following the question time.  The thing is, I don't remember the questions we were asked.  

All I can remember is that there was a little boy sitting on a panel in front of a room full of adults because he wanted a family.  I remember that I wondered about who was sitting with him, was someone holding his hand?  I think I tried to inaudibly whisper to Brad that I could not look down there.  

We weren't there long, the babies were fussing, it was late, and it was a school night.  When we got back to the van I was once again absorbed with the daily tasks during this middle place of transitioning.

But I carry this story with me.  It comes to mind more often than I can say.  The memory of the brave boy on the panel.  He is a reminder of so many others just like him that are waiting.  For a family to call their own.

Right now, I don't know what else I can do but share his story.  And pray.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."  Psalm 68:5-6

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