Back in 2012, on kiddos 11th birthday to be exact, we'd just had a conversation with an agency about potentially changing agencies because we weren't making headway where we were and we were near the point of giving up.
That agency called our agency to get a copy of our home study and within 15 minutes, our worker sent us a profile on 2 girls. No photos, but a general description of an 11 year old girl and her 7 year old sister.
We only wanted to adopt one child, but for some reason we said yes, please submit our home study. We laughed and said how funny it was that we got that profile 15 minutes after the agency we were talking with requested info from them.
A couple days later, the girls case worker asked for additional information on us and provided some more. We were still in. It was pretty big stuff, but seemed pretty situational and not something we couldn't handle.
6 weeks later, we hadn't heard back yet. Our worker said the girls had been matched. (we later found out that wasn't true)
Then toward the end of September 2012, a friend sent me a link to an adoptuskids profile. It was our child. She labeled it "This is your child, call her worker now". I opened up the profile and I literally gasped and just felt like I was looking at my child. I can't even explain the difference. I immediately called hubs and told him about her and he agreed that we should submit interest and I submitted interest on adoptuskids and asked our worker to send our home study.
I had a feeling, but wasn't 100% certain, that this was the oldest child in that sibling set. (I later found out I was right)
That night I was sitting in the bank line, literally crying because my parents weren't alive and how much I knew they'd love her. Why on earth I was thinking of their reaction to a child we'd submitted interest on, when I never had before. I could see so clearly my dad's face and how thrilled he'd be. I could always imaging mom a little because she liked kids in general, but dad had a special place in his heart for redhaired girls and used to talk about how he'd spoil my red haired daughter one day. She's not the only redhead we had applied for, so I know it wasn't just the hair.
The very next day, her case worker called mine and requested we set something up for them to come to our house and discuss her further and see if we'd be a good match. The case worker was so quick because she already had our home study and some questions answered from when we submitted on kiddos birthday.
The reason for the delay was that the girls had been separated since then, due to some issues that had come up. Short version....trauma bonded bad! The search for family had been temporarily postponed while they came up with new needs list.
Interview was set up for moms birthday, October 15th. I knew in my heart that was a good sign.
10 days later, we went to the case workers office to review even more info, then to the residential center that kiddo was in to discuss needs with the therapist as well.
We got lost on the way to RTC. Our GPS took us to Car Max on the other side of town instead. We were terrified that the case worker and therapist would think we bailed. We were even more terrified that kiddo knew we were coming and may have thought yet another family let her down. (thankfully we later found out they hadn't told her yet until we saw rest of her file)
We got there and talked about kiddos needs and told them yes, we were interested in becoming her parents. They asked if we'd like to meet her briefly and gave us our photo book back to share with her and give to her if we wanted to proceed after meeting her.
I remember so clearly that first moment we saw her. She took my breath away. I was near tears for what all she'd been through and to see that beautiful girl. Her beautiful, scared, wide but trying eyes, ,the bedhead of messy hair, but oh, so beautiful, The too big blue flowered dress/gown (still haven't figured out which it was) and too big off brand tennis shoes and no shoelaces (we later found out the no shoelaces was due to suicide risk and nobody is allowed jewelry, shoelaces or belts there). She sat at the end of the table, and we were on one side along with her therapist and the case workers were on the other side.
About 5 minutes in (it was a short 15 minute meeting), kiddo moved and sat beside me. We looked at the profile book together and she seemed interested and willing in one day coming home with us.
During that visit, she made it clear that the dog was her #1 reason for being willing to live with us (a home without a dog isn't a home in her book), that she was excited about the cat, her room and pool and had never really had her own cat before, that she wanted a husky one day (we got Lucifer as her adoption present, but it took several months after finalization before we found him) and that she liked country music, along the lines of Taylor Swift. She loved that her and I both had red hair and people wouldn't question if she was adopted.
She was so shy and adorable and looked so small in those way too big clothes. In reality, she wasn't a ton smaller than your typical 11 year old, the clothes and demeanor just made her seem so young, like a child playing dress up in clothes meant to be taken to the thrift shop.
It was almost 2 weeks later when we had our first playdate. We were told that she would not be willing to go off with us alone because of her past on the first playdate and it would be a very long transition period.
When we went to have our playdate, we took some cards to play in their common area. Therapist said kiddo said she really liked how we talked to her and that she felt safe and would prefer that we take her out instead, unsupervised. We were thrilled. It was a great playdate. We took that adorable, tiny underweight 11 year old out for pizza and walked around the wall. Then we got her an ice cream cone on the way back. She said the food was horrible at residential and that she'd lost so much weight because she wouldn't eat.
Our child had clothes that weren't age appropriate (think old lady clothes), way too big for her and no coat at all, so one of our visits was shopping. She loved that we went to Kohls. Apparently she has been used to budget that didn't allow her to pick clothes, so she loved picking. We just got her a couple things to last until she moved in and had her point out things so we could be working on finding things to fill her closet with. We didn't want to spend our visits shopping, except for enough for her to have clothes to wear for those visits that would keep her warm that late in the year.
She called me several times at work in between playdates. She wasn't quite ready to call daddy, too many men let her down and scared her, but it came with time. She always had a message for him and talked about her excitement of our next visit.
The 2nd overnight visit, they wanted to schedule on a different date from me. I had a different date in mind because of my work schedule. The therapist said not to change my work schedule, to have hubs come pick her up alone and bring her home, that this would be a test of how much she's progressed and if the progress is real, because she'd have to be willing to ride in a car with a man, alone, for over 3 1/2 hours. She was a champion and they came by the office on the way thru town to see me.
The plan was still a long transition, potentially as long as February, but while it seemed so long to all of us, 7 short weeks (long weeks to us and kiddo) later, she moved into our homes forever. She'd moved into our hearts so much sooner though.
By our 6th visit, we were all in tears each time we had to take her back and it got worse every time.
We kept begging for everybody to approve her moving in before Christmas, so she could have her family for Christmas and not be in RTC for the holidays. Her therapist agreed and talked to the case worker and didn't let kiddo know in case it didn't happen. Kiddo had 3 Santa visits during visits with us and the one she called "the real one" she asked him to make sure she got to move in before Christmas, she wanted her forever family that year for Christmas.
Her therapist called one day because she was in tears and wanted to move home. We hadn't long got the date of move in. It felt so good to tell her that.
On December 13, 2012, our child moved in forever. We spent our first Christmas together that year, the first of many.