We were eating dinner and William asked the question suddenly. I don't really remember how we reacted, but, in my head, it was very dramatic and movie-like. The table got silent for a minute and the question hung in the air...well, dramatically. In reality, Lizzie and Antwan were probably making tons of noise, as they tend to do throughout dinner. And we probably answered his serious question, in between "Lizzie, sit down and Antwan eat your food."
We had told William the good and bad news that morning. The bad news. His brother's adoption had officially failed and he was back in foster care. The good news. He wasn't deeply troubled and currently in a hospital like we had been led to believe. We explained that, yes, adopted children can be returned. But, no, it would never happen to him. Never, ever, ever. I repeated it several times. Most likely, more times than necessary. But, it wasn't that long ago that he admitted that he still worries that he'll have to go back. So, I think it's ok that I erred on the side of overkill.
William was happy. He mentioned his brother a couple of times at breakfast and then didn't say too much about it. That's about right for a 9 year old; especially a 9 year old who doesn't know how to talk about serious stuff.
So, when he blurted out the question, Brian and I were definitely surprised. Not really that he was asking, but that he was asking so soon. We fumbled around with vague answers. We don't know if it's even possible. We don't know yet, how he's doing. But, we promise to keep an open mind. (God knows, we owe him that much.) All the while, Brian and I exchanged looks and I continued to remind myself to choose my words carefully.
Then William started to "sell" him. Patrick (official code name!) could help babysit. He could go with us to DragonCon and dress up as "Men In Black" in the parade with them.
|DragonCon 2011 parade|
He could help me make "pie in the face" videos. That one was my fault, really. I joked that I wondered if he would mind getting pied in the face. Clearly, I wasn't successfully choosing my words carefully. :)
|Not your typical day at the zoo.|
His last reason was that he could take Karate with them. And, I allowed myself a moment to imagine how cute that would be.
It was so sweet and so sad. These are, of course, really bad reasons to adopt a child. And, the fact that part of my son's reality involves him trying to figure out a way to be with his brother just made me so sad.
I'd be lying if I said that the possibility hadn't crossed my mind. Well, both of our minds, really. We had already discussed the idea. And, many people in my life, knew that we had already pondered it and were quick to give their thoughts on it. But, despite the concerns of some of those around us, we are aware that it's not something that should be done impulsively.
Up until this point, we hadn't told William that we had already arranged a visit. Brian's idea was to surprise him, that morning. It was a great idea and I loved it. But, sitting there at the table, listening to William, it was too much for me.
I looked at Brian. "I can't take it."
He knew what I meant. "Are you sure?" (Perhaps Brian wanted to wait because he knew how crazy William would end up driving me, with his excitement, haha.)
But, I said I was sure and then blurted out that we had arranged to see Patrick on the Friday of our upcoming mini-vacation in Orlando.
From that moment on, William was over-the-moon. He talked to Lizzie and Antwan about it. He talked to me about it. He talked to Daddy about it. He talked to the cashier at Publix about it. He talked about it.
And, from that moment on, I was full of curiosity, concern, and excitement. I talked to Lizzie and Antwan about it. I talked to William about it. I talked to Brian about it. I did bite my tongue at Publix, though. :)
It was a hot topic.
So, Friday morning, we were getting ready to go meet up with the case worker and Patrick. I don't know why I was so nervous, but I was. I re-did Lizzie's hair, at least 3 times. I knew it was ridiculous to worry about what a 12 year old boy was going to think about his little sister's hair, but it mattered to me. Finally, I realized I was being a little neurotic (I do that) and gave up.
A little while later, we were sitting at McDonald's, waiting. I couldn't eat anything and just kept fidgeting (I do that, too.) It just seemed like such a big deal. Oh, that's right. It was a big deal. Their brother was coming. William who secretly hates being the big brother was going to get to be a little brother for the day. And, Lizzie and Antwan were going to get to know him. It was a very big deal.
Then, I looked out the window and there he was.
It couldn't have been more anticlimactic. (That was pretty much a guarantee since I tend to build things up in my head.) He was intently playing a Nintendo 3ds, which turned out to be exactly like William's. (Yay for a bonding opportunity!) He was polite, but quiet. He casually hugged the kids and good-naturedly tolerated me when I rushed to hug him. It didn't take a genius to see that he was an interesting combination of a typical teenager and a kid who has been through way too much. The protective wall was firmly built around him and who could blame him for that?
Regardless, within minutes, we were alone with the four kids and some fun money to go next store to the Family Fun Factory. So, we did. And, we had fun.
Through the day, Brian and I saw glimpses of the kid that Patrick could be, should've been, or maybe we just saw the kid that he is when he's not around virtual strangers. Either way, it was nice to see. :)
My favorite example. At almost every meal, if there is a straw available, one of us is blowing it at someone. It's a fun little tradition that has occasionally turned into an embarrassing moment when a straw is blown too far. So, it was no surprise when one of my kids blew a straw at McDonald's. Brian then used it as an opportunity to joke around with Patrick. He made a comment about going after him and blew the straw. Patrick looked at the straw as it blew over his shoulder and said nothing. It was a little disappointing, really. It suddenly seemed pretty unlikely that he'd be letting me hit him with a pie, anytime soon... ;)
But, a few minutes later, as he was coming back from getting a drink, he walked by and blew a straw at Brian. He made a quick comment that the small straws blow better, sat back down and went back to his 3ds. There's silly in there, after all!
Brian and I are big believers in things happening as they are supposed to happen. And, I don't know what is going to happen. But, I know that William loved spending time with his big brother. Antwan thought he was really cool and made sure to sit next to him as much as he could. Lizzie is now calling him "Big Patrick" to differentiate from her friend at school who has the same name (and is now called "Little Patrick."). We are going to set up more visits and I think we're all looking forward to getting to know him better. Maybe we are meant to adopt him; maybe we aren't. Maybe he doesn't even want to be adopted. Maybe we are just meant to be the adults who allow him to hang out with his brothers and sister. Who knows? I don't. But, I meant it when I told William that we'd keep an open mind, so I will. And if Patrick will let me love him, at the very least, as my children's brother, then I will. Because I have many flaws, but I am really good at loving kids.
Goal 1: Reconnect siblings. Check!
Goal 2: Hide the battery charger to both of their 3ds', in progress... ;)
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