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Snow. That seems to be a recurring theme with our family when it comes to important events. There was the May snow the day the boys moved in, and there was snow for a week prior to December 11, 2013. If anything could make us second guess adopting, being snowed in for almost a week with two wild boys could certainly do it.
Somehow, we all survived that week and the 7 months that preceded it. And, so, 23 months after our adoption journey started with that first email, and approximately 810 days after our boys entered foster care, we headed for the Washington County Juvenile Center.
Our parents managed to make the trip from Northeast Arkansas despite the snow still on the ground. I actually worked that morning because I had already missed so many days due to inclement weather. I'm not sure I actually performed any quality treatment that morning, but I was at least there in body, if not in spirit. The boys were still out of school so they stayed home with Rodney and didn't fully comprehend the significance of the day.
Finally, a little before 3 o'clock, we entered Judge Zimmerman's court room. I'm not sure what I expected from that, but it was almost anti-climactic. The boys had been given new teddy bears by our wonderful adoption specialist (she had even picked out one for Trae that reminded her of what he looked like with his hearing aid headband) and they were asked to name them. After talking to the boys a little, Judge Z asked them what they were naming their bears and she officially signed bear adoption certificates. Then she asked us about our intentions to adopt the boys, verified their new names, and then they were ours. We posed for a few pictures with the judge and with our families, and it was all over. The years of praying, wishing, and hoping, had come down to that moment. We were their forever parents.
We had joked before that day about possibly pulling over on the way home to provide some discipline that would not have been approved by DHS (yes, we said we might pull over and spank them....just because we could!), but that was completely unnecessary. As a matter of fact, both boys cuddled up with their new bears and fell asleep on the way home.
That evening we got to celebrate our full circle moment. Surrounded by our families, the boys' foster family, our adoption specialist, and our friends, we celebrated our very first Forever Day.
One of the highlights of that day was finally "unveiling" the boys on social media. While they were officially wards of the state, we were prohibited from sharing their faces publicly. Which meant many of our friends who lived in Northeast Arkansas had never seen their faces without various digital stickers covering them. I have to admit, I actually had a great time tempting people with various glimpses. Sometimes we would cover them with stars or simple blue dots, but other times we used a funny nose and glasses or they wore actual masks. But that day we got to show off their beautiful faces and reveal their brand new names.
As I reflect back now on the journey to that day, I am overcome with how God perfectly ordered every step. There were many surprises for us along the way, but He was never surprised by one of them. As a matter of fact, when you look at the timing of the boys coming into care, the date of their TPR (termination of parental rights), and the timing of us pursuing adoption and finally becoming an open home, the dates line up pretty perfectly. If things had proceeded at OUR pace, I don't believe they would have ever been OUR boys.
I won't go into all the reasons the boys ended up in foster care, but it is safe to say it happened because we live in a broken world where people don't always care for children in the way they should. But, in His sovereignty, what was intended for evil, He used for good (Genesis 50:20). And that could pretty much sum up our entire journey to becoming parents. There were many times along the way when the enemy could have gained a foothold and destroyed us all. Thankfully, God wrote a different story. And, with every opportunity I have to tell that story, I will give Him all the glory.