Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Very Special Day

So, I usually talk about writing or books or publishing in some way on this blog. But today I'm changing it up a bit. Because today is a very special day for our family: It's the 2 year anniversary of the day we adopted our daughter, Shelby. That's us, in our first 'official' Christmas card, to the left. Our adoption isn't any more special or unusual than any other adoption story, but for us it was a long time coming.

We adopted through the Foster Care system, not because we're gluttons for punishment, but because after weighing the options of international, domestic, private-domestic and on and on we realized there was one more option - one too many people don't opt for: foster care. On any given day there are more than 100,000 children in the Foster Care system in the US who are eligible for adoption. And over 75% of them will never be adopted. They'll never have a forever family to help them re-build from whatever tragedy took away their biological family. Going in to it, we knew our chances of adopting an infant were nearly zero, the chances of adopting a toddler were slim and likely we'd be matched with an 'older child' - someone school aged. We also knew there would probably be 'issues' - physical, emotional, health - but we also knew that every child deserves a chance at a normal family life. We wanted to be that family.

So, eyes wide open, we took the Foster-to-Adopt classes and heard more than we ever wanted to know about abuse and neglect and the children in the system. We 'passed' and settled in to wait. It was a short wait. About a month after we were certified we got The Call - there was a newborn waiting at the hospital and were we interested. Like I imagine I will when I get The Publishing Call, I stuttered all over myself, made sign-language-like motions at my husband that he had no way of interpreting and said, "Mm-hmm, yeah, okay. When?"

Four hours later, a tiny little life was place in my arms and she fit. Perfectly. From the moment I met her - blechy hospital smells and all - she was mine. Luckily the husband felt that way, too. She was born addicted to crack, with marijuana and alcohol in her system and she tremored constantly - late at night those little shakes became full-on DTs that adults have when they're trying to break a habit. My heart broke a little every night for the six weeks she fought the drugs in her system.

In all it took 18 months for our adoption to be finalized, but she was with us for every long day and month of that time...When the judge asked us to raise our hands and pledge to do our best for her, she reached up and placed her hands over ours. I think that means we all made that pledge...So, on this second anniversary of our adoption, I wanted to share a little of it with you...and give you all one small job: if you have a little one - even a grown up little one - in your life, give thanks today...and then snuggle him or her into a big bear hug. Okay?