Remember a few years ago, when we went to the hospital the day after the Superbowl, and brought home a beautiful baby girl?
And for almost her entire first year, she lived here. With us. Our (foster) daughter. We knew it was temporary. And after a few months we were rooting on her biological family, all the while loving her more and more each day.
We brought her to meet our family.
We fought to get her assessed and qualified for services she needed - and got the early intervention she deserved.
She slept on our chests, next to our beds, in our arms.
And then she was gone. Gone to live with her biological family full time, for the first time in her life.
We saw her occasionally, but to be honest? My heart was broken.
We took a few more foster cases, even as I could feel myself withdrawing, wishing with each new case that, instead of loving a new baby we could just have Bella a little more often.... but as the months passed, her visits were fewer and fewer. Shorter and shorter. And then.... they ended. We were not allowed to see her anymore. "It would be confusing", we were told. The issue, of course, is that we loved her so much - and she loved us in return - and the bond that had been created was reinforced with every visit. And perhaps that was keeping her from truly bonding with her biological family. We certainly didn't want that. So we kept her photo on the shelf, and her crib in her room, and her blanket carefully folded in the closet. I dreamed of the day that she called, or showed up on my doorstep clutching a few wrinkled baby photos I had given her family in a memory box with her name painted on the lid. I prepared myself for a long wait. But I had this feeling - I could barely acknowledge it to myself, never mind say it out loud. I just knew she would be in my arms again some day.
And then, quite abruptly, about a year after our last visit, I was allowed to see her again.
And it was just as it had always been. Well, almost. She was a little unsure. A little hesitant. Maybe a little confused. But she seemed to sense that something was familiar.
And our visits became more frequent.
And then she was allowed to spend the night again.
And now she is here for a few days at a time. She follows "Sissy" and "Mah" around the house. She calls me mama. She has her room, and her bed, and her blanket and her toothbrush and she rules the roost. She is the baby of the family, and she revels in it.
The details are confusing, contradictory, and ever changing. But for now, she is here. And will - if everyone can agree to work together - continue to be here. Because as a friend told me, when her visits were abruptly ended altogether: "How could having more people to love you, be confusing?"
She is part of our family - and we are part of hers. And we love her. All of us. What a gift.
13 hours ago