Friday, July 24, 2009

Fatherhood Friday post: A different kind of delivery

My distinct lack of posting is due to the fact that Elijah is now living with us full time. Or, as Anna likes to say, “He’s here in his forever home!” It came rather quickly, and I will admit that I really wasn’t ready for the change. We had been told that this would take awhile, and we were estimating that it would be some time in August. But just as we were packing up the car to go camping, we got a call from the social worker asking us to come to Lansing STAT! to sign some papers for consent/placement the following week.


We threw everything in the Kia and headed north instead of west to camp. Anna and I sat in the parking lot of the agency and listened to music while Tod went in and signed for Elijah’s placement. We hadn’t really talked about when he would come, a definite benefit to adoption, as you can often pick when you child will arrive. “um, Tuesday’s just not good for us, can we make it Wednesday?”

We had some idea as to when the transition was to take place: either the following Tuesday or Wednesday, we just needed to finalize with the foster family to make sure. My mind was whirling as we finally headed west to drop Anna off at Tod’s folk’s house and then head off to camp. This is the final stretch of the spring/summer semester, and to leave now would be disaster for both me and the students. I also really wanted to be home when Elijah came to stay with us. I wasn’t going to pass out cigars or anything, but I felt that this was a pretty important milestone in his little life. Thankfully, he has had a lot of stability with his foster family, and I wanted to be there to present a strong face/strong family when he was “delivered” to our house for the last time.

And speaking of, I asked the foster Mom if we needed to come up to get him and she said, “No, I like to deliver my kids. They’ve had a rough start, and I want them to know that I didn’t just disappear, but I brought them to their new home to start anew.” This family is amazing, and we are blessed to have them as part of Eli’s life, in the past, the present, and we hope, in the future. Their refrigerator is covered with pictures of foster kids through the years. Class pictures, sports pictures, prom pictures, they’re all there. A patchwork of kids from all walks of life have transitioned with Lou Ann and Roger over the years, more than forty they estimate.

So on Wednesday morning, they showed up and brought Eli with a few shopping bags full of clothes, books, and toys. He lit up when he saw us and immediately grabbed for Tod. I could see that Lou Ann was fragile with her emotions, so I offered coffee and some donuts. She said no, and said that they had to get going. We snapped a few pictures and then the good byes started. Anna and I had gone to Cracker Barrel to get them a gift card earlier that morning as a small token of our appreciation for all they had done. They love that place, so we figured we’d get them something they would actually use. I slipped the card and a note into her hand and warned her that it was a pretty emotional note so they might want to wait. She wiped her eyes and agreed. Here’s a little snippet from the letter:

Dear Lou Ann and Roger,

Words can’t describe our feelings today; it’s a day much like the day we brought Anna home from the hospital in Toledo. With our joy comes some pain, and we can’t move on without acknowledging that. The day we stepped out of the lobby at St. Ann’s Hospital was a day we will never forget, a day that was wrapped in the joy of the family that we were about to start, and the sorrow of a young girl who was unable to raise the child she gave birth to. We are forever in your debt for getting Elijah off to a great start in his young life and will continue to nurture the relationship you all have with this great kid. We know that the past few months have been an exciting and emotional rollercoaster for us all, and we are glad to have worked with a couple so dedicated and concerned about the well being of these kids.
You two are an amazing couple, and do a job that is much needed in this crazy world of ours. We are honored to have you in our lives and are blessed knowing that Eli had you when he needed you most.

Much love,

We all got a little teary as she and Roger said their final good byes to Eli, but as we waved to them driving away, a sense of happiness came over the house. We were parents again. We weren’t in a delivery room, we weren’t at a hospital exhausted from sleeping on waiting room chairs, we were on our front porch and we were somewhat tan, rested and ready to go. I can regale folks with my tales of Anna’s birth and how I cut the cord and helped coach her birth mom during the delivery, but I can also talk about how nice it was to have Eli join our home on a muggy July morning, delivered not by a doctor or midwife, but by two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.