We did it.
We became a family.
I'm sitting down in my quiet house, three sweet boys tucked in their beds and hopefully drifting off to dreamland, kitties up and ready to play, rolling a rubber ball across the wood floors, dog snoring on the wood floor -- so I figured I might as well post. Besides, I just don't want to forget any of it.
The boys arrived just after lunch. The caseworker pulled up with a government minivan and her two teenage kids in tow (good sports and helpers to share their mom on what was supposed to be her day off, and I love that when they left the older son told me it was a "privilege" to come and be a part of dropping the boys off to their new family). The two boys piled out of the van with beaming faces, and we all unloaded trashbag after trashbag of their stuff and hauled it up to their new room. They actually had quite a lot of clothes and toys, which was nice. Their caseworker handed me two folders with a few pictures, special artwork, medical and school records, and letters from their foster family inside. After a few more papers and instructions, she looked at me and asked, "So, are you ready for this?". Ha! There are definitely no instructions for this, but I knew I was as ready as I'd ever be. We hugged, she left, and I was instantly a mom of three kids.
As my husband is out of town on a short business trip he absolutely could not miss (great timing, right?), my mom came over to help, and she and I started the business of sorting and putting away all of their stuff. The boys, of course, were thrilled to dig in and just start playing with our son and all of the toys downstairs. Although they did come with a lot of clothes, many of them were hand-me-downs or gently used, and I know my husband is going to be so excited to start buying them a few new things. The sweetest moment was unpacking their two 8x10 frames with photos of each of them with their birthmom. Melt my heart. I could not be more thrilled that they have those on the dresser in their room, so they will always remember her and feel like she is watching over them. (She passed away less than two years ago.) Those pictures are an amazing blessing, as many of these kids in state custody often don't even have ANY photos from their childhood, let alone photos of their birthparents.
Once we got them unpacked, we let them play some more before we left to make a Target run for pajamas for the youngest (he had one pajama top) and socks for both. It was the absolute cutest thing when the oldest looked at me and cried out, "YES!!! Our first trip to Target as a FAMILY!" Seriously, these kids get it. They know how very dear it is to actually be a part of a family. The thing that most of us take for granted, being a part of a family unit, these kids have wished and prayed for for far too long. So you can imagine how my heart swelled every time I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw three smiling faces in the backseat looking back at me.
We came home, my mom left (since my husband successfully made his flights and should be walking in our door late tonight), and I was on my own. Imagine my shock when the house was relatively quiet enough for me to sit down and relax because all three boys were playing quietly with toys. After a bit, I got up and made boxed mac-n-cheese (hey, at least it was Annie's Organic, right?), along with sliced apples and grapes. They were all polite as could be at the dinner table -- we said the blessing, everyone ate all of their food, and they all took their plates to the sink when they were done. These boys have MANNERS. That is such a nice perk!
Thank goodness my sister-in-law called and alerted me to the newest Lego cartoon on TV tonight, so I set the DVR, and after playing a bit more with toys and the Wii, they all three willingly picked up the playroom and put all the toys away before piling into the two armchairs to watch it. Then it was time for a little ice cream (BlueBell, of course, nothing but the best for my guys), before we made our way upstairs to start the bedtime routine. Again, thank goodness that they were already used to routine at their foster home. No issues whatsoever putting on pj's, brushing teeth, rinsing with SpongeBob fluoride rinse, and climbing into their beds. I then read the first story out of my son's childhood adventure Bible (because I honestly don't know if or how many Bible stories they've gotten to hear), followed by a Little Golden Book (of course, since I have over 100, no joke), and then more unbelievable heart-melting moments.
At that point, the boys both wanted to bring their notebooks up and show me all of the stuff inside -- the pictures with their foster family, their artwork they were proud of, etc. That made me feel very trusted by them, and that is a big thing. Even our two kitties -- Harry and Sally -- ventured into their room, and I was so proud as the boys sat there super still and quiet until the kitties were brave enough to jump up on their beds and sniff them, and then they began to pet them oh-so-gently, and they were so excited when the kitties began purring! They've never had cats, but I can tell they are already in love. (What an amazing blessing for my husband and I that they are so gentle and loving with pets because that was one of our greatest fears, believe it or not.) Then I tucked them all in, doing my best to reassure them that if they needed anything at all, got scared, anything, they could come find me at night and I'd be right there. Gosh -- how in the heck do you tuck little ones in that barely know you, in a room they don't recognize, in a whole new life? I mean, I could barely even make it at a couple-days-long summer camp being away from my own parents when I was a kid, and here these boys were so very very brave to be going to sleep in a complete stranger's house! I felt so inadequate, but I just silently prayed that God would bless my first attempts at being a mother to these little ones. And oh, I think you would just melt into a puddle if you knew how many times throughout the day those big, brown eyes looked up at me, asking over and over, "Do we really get to stay here FOREVER?".
So that was our first day. 97% unbelievably great, maybe 2% where we had to learn to be brothers, haha, and 1% surreal moments every hour or so when I had to remind myself that this wasn't babysitting or a playdate, that this was the first day of forever. Pretty darn sweet, if you ask me.
I cannot wait for tomorrow.