It’s almost exactly two years to the day that two precious little girls came to live with us. In less than four days, we’ll find out if they’ll be staying with us for good. I could have never imagined, in my wildest daydreams, all the amazing, funny, scary, stressful and joyful events that have been jam-packed into these two years.
The journey wasn’t supposed to take this route. The plan was to keep using our very kid-friendly home to its fullest advantage by temporarily taking in a foster child or two for a few months here and there. Our three boys were all still home, but only during college breaks or in between Army-reserve deployments and trainings. It was getting quiet. I was getting lazy. And Big Daddy and I were disgusted when we read about some poor kids that had been mistreated while in foster care. (With all the background checks and monitoring that goes on, this is not what usually happens–but sadly kids do get placed into inappropriate homes!) The ad looking for foster parents just seemed to jump off the page while I was looking for a temporary job to fill up my time between tax seasons.
The kids all thought it would be pretty cool to have a “little brother” around. We all assumed we’d be getting a boy even though Big Daddy and I had only mentioned we’d prefer an elementary school-aged child with mild to no behavioral problems, although our boys had written on their little survey that they’d prefer a boy. I loved having sons and never even had any desire to have a daughter. I never imagined having a house full of glitter and baby dolls–and actually enjoying it!
I remember asking the first guy from our agency that came to do the initial home evaluation and application what the kids call the foster parents when they come to live with them. “Mom” and “Dad” didn’t seem right to me since most of these kids have moms and dads, yet I didn’t know if the kids would feel weird calling us by our first names and it seemed to undermine the position of authority I thought we should have as guardians and disciplinarians. I don’t remember what his reply was but I DO remember him saying that usually the very little ones just say mom and dad. I thought that was kind of cute, and sad, but I wasn’t planning on getting a “little” one so it didn’t really apply to me.
I introduced myself as “Miss Leslie” to the girls. Bonus Child refrained from calling us anything for the first week or so. She quickly made excuses for her little sister that first week when the little Cherub called me “mommy” the first time. Bonus Child froze when she heard that, her brown eyes darting glances between me and Big Daddy to see if we’d heard it, then apologetically explaining that her sister was still little and sometimes little kids get confused. I think she thought we’d be angry, when in fact I was starting to fall in love with that little baby. My heart was also going out to Bonus Child, the big sister who always looked after her younger siblings. Neither one ever called me “Miss Leslie” but I do occasionally get called by my first name, most often by Bonus Baby, when I don’t hear her calling for me or if she’s peeved at me, which happens quite often. Bonus Baby is not quite a baby anymore. She’s gone from a diaper-wearing weapon of mass destruction to a kindergarten-bound girl with lots of attitude. She’s quite like a rebellious teen with PMS in a toddler-sized body.
The ride with Bonus Child has been a little slower, but also a little bumpier. There was a lot more baggage weighing things down. But we’ve come to a wonderful place, and I finally know what it’s like to have a daughter. I feels so honored that she’s let her guard down enough to allow herself to finally be mothered. I love to hear her giggle and sing in the shower and just be a kid.
I know how things should end up this week. But there’s still no guarantee. Stupid mistakes are made. But like I wrote in the letter to Bonus Child after the CYS supervisor realized that perhaps they should have never played Russian Roulette with these girls’ lives and removed them from a home where they were cared for and loved–“you will always be our daughters–even if you don’t live in the same house with us”. And this is the honest truth.