The last time I wrote about my daughter’s first foster baby it was about the day she had to hand her over to case workers to be placed in another home.
Last year this time, Baby A and Big Brother were adopted into that family, finding their forever home.
And after more than a year and a half of not seeing her, our whole family was invited to the adoption party! We were over the moon with excitement!
The day the official adoption proceedings at the courthouse happened was the day before my husband’s and my 33rd anniversary, and the party came a few days later. I don’t even remember celebrating our own milestone, I was so ecstatic that we were going to see Baby A, now almost 2 years old, with Big Brother and their new family.
We joyfully picked out presents for them all, looked back through the pictures on our phones from those brief two months we had the pleasure of helping care for this child, and ticked off the minutes until the day came.
As we drove out to their town I tried not to analyze my feelings. I was nervous (not normal for me), but I didn’t want to think about it then. I’d wait until later to dig into the reasons.
My daughter and Baby B had gone to Baby A’s first birthday party almost a year earlier, and we had been greatly reassured to hear our girl was surrounded by people who loved her and her older brother. And even more pleased to hear how Baby A remembered my daughter, the mother who cared for her in those first months.
It had certainly eased my mind.
And now I could see with my own eyes how our little girl was doing.
Then we arrived. As we expected there was a nice crowd of friends and family come to celebrate. We were welcomed in and introduced to a number of people and the names were all a blur.
I was trying not to look for her.
It was wonderful to see Big Brother, who we had the pleasure of meeting the day Baby A left our family to join with him in this one. He had made an impression on us then, and it was a delight to watch him playing and interacting with so many people. And he was still a sharp dresser!
We saw where the food was laid out, listened as our daughter and Baby A’s mom caught up on their girls’ milestones, getting our bearings.
And I knew she was there somewhere.
Then her Nana came alongside me and asked if I wanted to go see her.
I have to say one of the surprising things to me was the sense of honor I felt was being given to us as Baby A’s first family. In the grand scheme of things we were a part of her life for only two short months. This family had been dealing with the day-to-day sickness, allergies, temper tantrums, and mischief of the nineteen months that followed.
And also all the smiles and cuddles.
But even a year later I am still awed and humbled by the respect and thankfulness Baby A and Big Brother’s new family showed us all.
Nana pointed to where Baby A was eating in her high chair at the back of the garage. And all by myself I walked over to her.
I took in the same high hairline and beautiful rounded forehead I had kissed and nuzzled many times.
We were both wearing purple. I had loved to dress her in purple as it looked so good next to her rich, light brown skin.
She looked like herself, and my heart was so full I wasn’t sure I could stand it without yelling out loud or breaking down in tears, either of which would probably scare her.
I started talking in a low voice, saying some of the same things I used to say to her as an infant. I knew I was repeating myself a little, but I didn’t want to speak things unfamiliar to her, to us.
She was looking at her food, and she stopped moving, stopped doing anything.
To my voice.
She lifted her face and our eyes met.
I was bent over to be closer to her height, and that put us face to face.
I kept talking as I saw recognition come over her features.
A look of pure love.
And Nana asking if I wanted to hold her. Yes! Yes!!
I picked her up and it seemed like right away I was surrounded by my husband and kids, everyone wanting to see and touch and hold.
And it was okay to hand her over to my husband, her Papa, because it was hitting me that I had been living as if with my breath held all these long months.
I did not realize the fear until that moment. The fear that she wouldn’t remember me. Gone in the sparkle of that first look that passed between us.
There was lots of smiling and laughing, eating good food, Baby B at 18 months old toddling around clinging to my legs and wanting up in between playing with Baby A and Big Brother and the other kids.
As time got closer to when we needed to leave, Baby A’s family wanted to get some pictures of all of us with their girl, so we gathered across the street in a big grassy area. My daughter picked her up, someone else held Baby B, and we all smiled like crazy.
And when we were done, Baby A came over to me and I knelt down and let her look through newborn pictures of herself on my phone as I told her about them. She was amazed that I had pictures of us together, the same ones that are in a scrapbook she has.
Then we walked hand in hand with others back to the house, and she wrapped herself around my leg. I picked her up and she draped herself around my shoulders, this great big girl filling up my heart just like she did as a tiny infant.
As she nestled into my neck I sang the first verse of “Baby Mine” that I used to sing as I held and rocked her.
And she fell asleep.
Her family was a little surprised. They said she was hard to get down for a nap, but to me it was just like those early days.
They offered to take her off my hands. But I was willing to hold that child until I collapsed if I could! I did eventually take her into the house and sit down with her, but this knowing was like something I’d expect to feel in heaven.
She knew me. And I knew her.
And love always wins.