You were always my son

Dear Gav,

I can’t believe I am writing these words: Today your mom and I adopted you. We imagined this day before we even met you. And today it finally happened.

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about this day constantly. I still don’t understand how we got here. It doesn’t quite make sense, and something still doesn’t compute.

Last summer your mom and I packed up your books, clothes, and toys as we prepared to return you to your biological mother. We tried to fit in as many “lasts” as we could–one last time camping, one last trip to California to meet your baby cousin, one last visit to our favorite restaurants.

In late July we dropped you off, congratulated your bio mom on everything she had accomplished, walked back to our car, and wept. We thought that was it.

But somehow you were returned to us. Your legal case continued for several more months. And now–25 months after we brought you home–you are officially ours.

My sweet boy: one of my deepest wishes is you never learn how tumultuous the first two years of your life were. How hard it was for you even before you were born. I want all your early memories to be of love and happiness, and I never want you to dwell on why you became a foster child.

I hope that today–as much as it means to your mom and me–never really means anything to you.

Because more than anything else, I want you to believe something that has been true the day I picked you up from the hospital: I was always your father, and you were always my son.

Love,
Dad

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Again, thank you

Thank you for…

  • Setting up a Meal Train when Gavin first came to us.
  • Bringing us food. Sending us food.
  • Hosting a baby shower.
  • Hosting a virtual baby shower.
  • Giving us hand-me-downs: clothes, a car seat, cloth diapers, a glider, toys…
  • Gifting us every other piece of baby gear (we had nothing!).

 

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What awaited us outside our front door when we got home one night. (The packages- not the baby, though if he were, it wouldn’t be far from the truth for foster care!)

 

  • Mowing our lawn.
  • Inviting us over.
  • Pretending to not be mad when Gavin’s dirty diaper leaked on your floor when you had us over.
  • Babysitting Gavin – sometimes for free, sometimes at way below market rate.
  • Willingly jumping through the bureaucratic hoops required to babysit a foster kid.
  • Being understanding when we had a crazy visitation and medical appointment schedule to work around.
  • Knitting Gavin blankets.
  • Sending Gavin a personalized bib with a joke that took us months to get.

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  • Sending us flowers on a court date.
  • Sending us a plant and chocolates when we thought Gavin had gone home.
  • Facetiming us. Calling us. Texting us. Emailing us.
  • Sending us cards. And more cards.
  • Crying with us and for us.
  • Flying out to visit us.
  • Flying out to be with us during a court date.
  • Sending us lucky pennies you found on the ground.
  • Donating breast milk to us. Having your sister donate breast milk to us.
  • Donating funds so that we could purchase breast milk. Having your coworker donate funds so that we could purchase breast milk.
  • Visiting us when Gavin was in the hospital at seven-weeks-old.
  • Being understanding when we never knew our schedule or whether Gavin would be with us for an upcoming event.
  • Being understanding when we were hesitant to make plans because we feared it might be our last weeks/weekend/days with Gavin.
  • Listening to us hash out every nuance of the legal case, over and over.
  • Packing a bag for Gavin when he unexpectedly came to Hawaii with us and we weren’t in the state to do it ourselves.
  • Praying for us.
  • Praying for Gavin. “Storming the gates of Heaven,” as one of our wise friends pledged.
  • Extending your visit with us in March 2016 so that we could take a little 4-day-old baby boy home from the hospital to live with us.
  • Understanding when we were grumpy, or withdrawn, or short with you. (We’re sorry.)
  • Loving us. Loving our little boy and doting on him like crazy.

Thank you

Many foster care blogs have written thoughtfully about what you can do to support foster parents and foster children. A friend of ours has started a local non-profit in Colorado to do exactly that. For us, now seems like a fitting time to acknowledge and celebrate all that our friends, family and community did to support us on this journey.

Our other post has an almost-exhaustive list of what people did for us. It was A LOT and we feel incredibly, incredibly blessed to write such a list. Our people did amazing things for us and our child. Here, we touch on three things that you did that stood out:

  • You thought about us and prayed for us – and told us you were. We believe strongly that the petitions that went up to God about us and about Gavin ultimately changed the outcome of this case- and for that we are so thankful. We know your prayers were heard.

But being told over and over again that we were being thought of and prayed for- that mattered a lot, too. Foster care can be extremely lonely and isolating. Having contact from friends- friends who were thinking about us every day, and took a few minutes to send a text or call or write an email, to tell us they were thinking about us- was invaluable. It is one thing to be in the forefront of someone’s mind – but being told that you are matters, too.

  • You were willing to simply be with us. We were not very good company over the last two years. In fact, we were often quite poor company. We were frequently exhausted, sad, and stressed. Sometimes, you listened as we vented or discussed the nuances of the case. We had little else to talk about. Sometimes you cried with us. But the fact that you were willing to be with us and around us mattered the most.

I have learned, through this process, that it is hard to be around people who are hurting. We were not funny. Our conversations focused on only one thing. We were withdrawn. And yet, you stuck by us. Having friends and family around mattered so much to us. It gave us something to look forward to, and a way to feel like ourselves again. I have so much appreciation now for those are able to show up– emotionally, physically-  for those who are hurting. It might be awkward, and you may not know what to say or do. But just saying or doing anything is, 99 times out of 100, the right thing to do. To be with others as they hurt is a gift as valuable as any other.

  • You loved our child like he was our own. This mattered so much to us and to Gavin.

If he had returned to his biological parents, Gavin would have known the immense love of a community for the first 16 months of his life. That is invaluable to a tiny baby.

We know this was not easy for so many of our family and friends. We have been told that, when we would send out an email update, you would brace for tears. And yet you read those emails anyway, and scooped Gavin up in a hug the next time you saw him. We saw that you loved Gavin knowing he may not be part of our family for forever. What an incredible gift for him and for us.