We are almost there.
On Wednesday of this week, we will officially become foster parents to a 16 year old boy.
And then the countdown really begins.
Because in one year, we will begin the process of adopting this boy as our very own.
We didn't know when we began this process where this would lead. We couldn't even get our heads around this whole idea. We didn't know that God would forge this path or lead us down this road. We thought we were just doing a good thing. Patrick laughed and said that I had finally found a way to bring one of my students home with me. We joked about gym socks and dating and drivers' licenses.
And then he asked if he could call us Mom and Dad, and we sat up a little straighter.
And then there is school. Because we are there all day together, you know. It's sort of like being a stay at home mom but not really. It began with checking in before football practice and then overnight it seemed I was elected Wrestling Booster Club Secretary (what?). Countless rice krispy treats later and a friend of his is leaning over to me during our in-class reading of Romeo and Juliet whispering, "Mrs. Herndon, are you adopting Calvin?" I pause because no one had just put it out there like that yet. "That is so cool," he whispers as I nod my head, very slowly. Is it ok to tell people that? Is that the word he's using when he tells his friends--adopting? Is that what we're doing?
And finally the day and the question that we all knew was coming. "So when Mrs. Herndon becomes your mom are you going to change your name?" He was afraid to say yes in front of me because we had not discussed this. I could tell this was not how he wanted it to come up, but then there it was, out on the table. And that is how the conversation began.
And so in March we will go to court and change his foster care plan from "Independent Living" to "Adoption." The process will take about a year. Everything needs to be established. Birth certificates will change. Rights will have to be terminated. The water will have to get a little muddier.
But the most interesting part is to watch those around us as we go through this process. So many people simply do not know what to do with it. Babies, people get. When someone announces a pregnancy we know how to respond; we know the right questions to ask: when are you due? what will the name be? are you so excited?! We know to throw a baby shower and bring a gift and say "aww" over sonogram pictures. But when it's messy? When it's a teenager? When the "due date" is a "move in date" and the child cannot look you in the eye or make cute noises or may be little scarred from the wreckage of life and the sin of others? What do you say? "Are you so excited?!" just doesn't seem to fit.
And that is ok. This is a weird way to have your first child. We realize that. And it's ok if you think so too. We know.
And we don't really know what to say either.
Except that we ARE incredibly excited.
And we so thankful to those around us who are excited with us and praying for us. We are grateful for a family who has loved our boy like he's always been there. Who come to wrestling matches and give him silly nicknames and Christmas and birthday presents. For generous friends who throw you a "shower in a card" from far away and give you Lowe's gift certificates so you can put a closet door in his room. For Scott and Krista who handmade a game of cornhole that we can play as a family. A pastor who checks in frequently and has already made a connection with our boy. Guidance counselors and co-workers and our school secretary who asks faithfully every week, "Are you a Mama yet?!"
I am a bit overwhelmed by it all. I'm still processing what it all means. Still getting used to this whole idea. So bear with me a little bit.
Wednesday is coming. We are ready.
And we are so thankful.