A week later, I arrived at their home – a 90 minute drive from mine – at 8am. Cam was awake and playing, but Luna was still asleep.Patty, the foster mother, had already presented me as “Mommy Meril” to the kids. “Mommy Meril is here to play with you today” she told Camaro. He didn’t seem as shocked as I was by this title and was quickly busy playing with his cars and trucks and showing me his big jar of pennies and his tank of fish. While his diaper was getting changed and he was being dressed for the day, I waited with Sly, their foster father, in the kitchen. He told me that Luna was a slower riser than her brother, but that she would be up soon. Evidently, her routine was to ease into the day slowly. She would get herself a bottle of milk and sit on her foster dad’s lap for about 10 minutes or so before getting down to play or interact with anyone.
A few minutes later, little Luna padded in and looked around. I recognized her immediately. Here was, without a doubt, my child. My daughter whom I had not yet met, but whom I had known all of my life. My jaw dropped to the floor. I watched adoringly as she opened the fridge, procured herself a bottle, walked over, and climbed up onto her usual morning perch. She settled herself and looked over at me. Almost immediately, clenching the nipple of her bottle in her teeth, and, without breaking eye contact, she slid down, walked the few steps to me, stood in front of me and silently raised her arms to be lifted up. Inwardly speechless, and outwardly stunned, I instinctively reached down to pick up this child as if I had been lifting her my whole life. Settling her on my lap, she fit perfectly. She held on tight and refused to let go for the next 11 hours. Thus began the whole visitation part of the adoption.
At no time in the whole long process did I ever feel as adrift and clueless as during this process. I felt in a no (wo)man’s land betwixt and between caseworkers, procedure, and status. There were no guidelines, no protocol, no supervision. Sly, Patty and I were pretty much left to our own discretion, and we had very different ideas of what and how visitation and disclosure to the children should go. They were in favor of telling the kids that they were getting old, and so the children would have to go to a different home. I pointed out that I, too, would one day be older and perhaps that wasn’t a good thing for them to be worrying about in the coming years. Then they thought that telling them that Patty had hurt her back might help them to understand why they needed to move — ??? – And if I were to get hurt at some point in the raising of them – what might they think? You get the picture……… As it turned out, Patty and Sly had never gotten around to telling the children that they weren’t their birth parents. They were of the opinion that since they might not understand, truth was irrelevant and beside the point. At any rate, we muddled through as best we could – my visiting Camaro there, him visiting me in my home, and eventually including an overnight that was, looking back, arrived at much too quickly.
As I put him to bed that first night, and the inevitable tears and heartbreaking pleading to be returned to his daddy and mommy came rolling out of him, I couldn’t help but cry myself, and wanted nothing more than to jump the both of us into the car and drive the hour and a half to take him home. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of awful system I had become a part of? What pain was I inflicting upon an innocent child “for his own good” and was it really the right thing to do? Who was I to take such drastic measures and to witness and participate in such trauma? It felt all wrong. By removing him from everything and everyone familiar to him, I felt like I was part of breaking an unspoken promise to this sweet little being who had had so many promises already broken in his short life – promises that I suddenly realized I, in my upbringing, had always been able to take for granted. It broke my heart. We held hands as we lay there and cried our separate tears.