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March 19, 2013. The day we met our children for the first time. The most earth-shattering day of our lives, but in many ways, it was also one of the most ordinary.
The night before (after the initial meeting with DHS), Pam and I exchanged a few emails and decided the next afternoon would be the best day to meet the boys in person. As I recall, the weather was supposed to be cold and rainy the rest of the week and that day (a Tuesday) was going to be our best chance to have good weather. We agreed to meet at a local park where the boys were already comfortable, and we agreed that we would be introduced as nothing more than "some friends of Mom and Dad". (Yes, they referred to them as Mom and Dad. Which shows you how much those boys were loved and accepted in their foster home.)
Of course, we were "friends of Mom and Dad" so the meeting was much less awkward than if we hadn't known the foster parents at all. We spent a little time catching up with them, and then we just played. We had been warned that the little guy might have a hard time warming up, especially to Rodney because he was typically more comfortable with women. But soon the two of them were playing on the swing like they'd been friends for years. Since Trae has a hearing impairment, one of our concerns was about how hard it would be to understand him. That fear quickly dissipated when we realized we understood most everything he said. And we certainly didn't have any worries about them physically after watching them on the playground. Trae's natural athleticism quickly came out as he flew across the monkey bars. He was 6 at the time and had no hesitation when we asked if we could take his picture and play with him for awhile. Not to be outdone by big brother, Will also wanted a turn on the monkey bars. He was 3 at the time and only wearing 18-24 month clothes, so he required a little assistance. I still have the video of helping him cross those monkey bars for the first time. And I can't watch it now without a silly grin on my face. It was very easy to imagine myself as his mom.
After playing for about an hour, we just knew. We were supposed to move forward with getting to know these boys a little more. So we got goodbye hugs from both boys and let their foster parents know we would be contacting them soon.
On the way home, we made the phone calls we had simultaneously been anticipating and dreading. We each called our parents to let them know we had met the boys that might become our sons. I say we had been "dreading" it because we would be lying to say we weren't concerned about how they would receive the news. They knew we were in the process of adopting, but they had no idea we had even received information on these two boys. I'm not even sure they knew we were considering TWO children. They also knew we were open to considering children of a different race, but actually telling them we were going through with it was a different story. But, like parents do, they celebrated with us and anxiously waited for us to send them pictures.
Later that night, we also set up our next date. The following Saturday we spent time with just them and us, no foster parents. We went to a local arcade (think low-end Chuck E. Cheese) and then to supper at Steak and Shake. The arcade was about a 30 minute ride from their house, and we laugh now about the fact that there was TOTAL SILENCE from them the entire car ride. I can only imagine the thoughts that were running through their little heads as we drove away. I'm sure it was a mixture of confusion and "what the ????" Finally, as we pulled in the parking lot, Trae broke the silence with "Chuck E. Cheese!! I've been here before!" and from then on we had a great time.
After that first "date", we gradually moved into overnight visits. And then one night became two, and weekend visits turned into week days and weekends, and then finally they were living at our place more than they were in their foster home. We had a few bumps along the way trying to figure out the transition, especially with Will who was quite attached to Pam, but overall we couldn't have asked for it to go more smoothly.
Finally, just a few weeks later, we set a move-in date. We had originally planned to transition them into living with us full time after school was out for the summer, but things were going so well that we didn't really see the need to drag out the process that much. So the date was set and we started making plans to make these boys ours forever.
To be continued....
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