God’s words reassured her that she was making the right decision in adopting the courageous child.
Posted in , Jan 25, 2021
Was this a church? The high, vaulted ceilings made it seem like one—almost but not exactly. That’s the way things often are in dreams, and I was dreaming now. Deeply. A woman entered the room. With her was a small child, a girl in soft, lavender footie pajamas. She was barely a toddler, still a baby in many ways. Her brown hair was braided and her big, dark eyes were beautiful. But it wasn’t their beauty that struck me so much as the quiet courage I saw reflected in them as the child took a tentative step forward.
I sank to my knees, putting myself at her level. Don’t be afraid, I thought. The girl hesitated a moment, clinging shyly to the woman. Then, as if making a decision, she opened her arms and toddled toward me. My own arms were open and waiting to catch her. Her little body was soft and warm and right in my embrace. As if she belonged with me. “You’re fine,” I said as I rocked her gently. “Everything’s going to be just fine.”
I opened my eyes to the sound of my alarm clock. Beside me, my husband, Val, rolled over and got up. Elsewhere in the house, I could hear our sons, Dash, 16, and Phineas, 6, stirring. I climbed out of bed. By the time the kids had left for school and I started the breakfast dishes, I barely remembered the details of my dream.
It was no surprise I was dreaming about children. After a lot of discussion, Val and I had decided to adopt a child. A little girl, we’d agreed when we filled out the application. A little older than Phineas, so she would be in between the two boys in age.
Dash was already the best big brother anyone could ever ask for, and Phineas the friendliest, silliest kindergartner. We did laundry and yard work together, came up with family projects—we even had regular “family art days” in our craft room where Dash made duct tape wallets, Val sketched, and Phineas and I painted. There was plenty of room for one more in our family. We filled out piles of paperwork, underwent background checks, took classes on how to care for a child from foster care who’d potentially been hurt in the past. Neglected, surely.
I soaped up the dishes and thought about our daughter. I had never met her. I’d only seen her in a photo, a grainy photocopy that barely captured her features. She was 18 months old, younger than we had planned.
“Can we handle a baby?” Val asked when the caseworker first told us about Dari. “Diapers? Middle-of-the-night feedings?”
He was right, but we decided to go to the interview anyway. “She’s been without parents since birth,” the caseworker explained when we got to her office. “She’s in foster care now. But she needs a forever home.”
Despite our misgivings, we applied to adopt Dari. Now we just had to wait. I dried the dishes and went upstairs to the nursery we’d fixed up for her. We refinished furniture, hung new curtains. Val painted a mural on the wall. I was excited to think about her coming to live here—but nervous too. Once the agency decided to move Dari out of foster care, we’d have a transitional period. We would meet Dari, get to know her slowly. She’d spend the night with us occasionally until she felt at home. I mean, there were four of us and only one of her. We’ll need that transition as much as she will, I thought. As eager as we were to welcome Dari, it was scary too! With all my mixed emotions, I was thankful for the wait and the process. I wanted everything to be perfect for Dari.
The phone rang. It was Dari’s caseworker. “There won’t be time for transition,” she said. “Your family is getting your baby today.”
Today? We weren’t ready! How could Dari be ready?
“The agency’s decided to take her out of foster care immediately,” the caseworker said. “For her own safety. I’m going to pick her up now. We’ll be there in about an hour.” The situation must have been dire.
I hung up with the caseworker and called Val. “I’ll come home,” he said. “Should I pick up the boys?”
“No time for that,” I said. Val’s commute was a long one. I called Dash on his cell. “I’ll get Phineas at school and be right home,” he said. “Don’t worry, Mom. I got this.”
How can he be so calm? My heart pounded in my chest. My hands shook. I wanted to hide under the bed. I wasn’t ready to meet my new daughter! What if she didn’t like me? What if she didn’t like her room? What if we were the wrong parents for her? What if she belonged in another family instead? God, I need to know we’re doing the right thing!
I ran around the house in a panic until the boys came home. Dash was grinning ear-to-ear. Phineas jumped with excitement. Five minutes later, Val arrived. “Is she here yet?” he asked breathlessly.
“You made it just in time.”
The four of us gathered together in the foyer. “Everybody, be calm,” said Val. “We don’t want to scare her.”
He was talking to the boys, but I was the one who needed calming. Then came the knock on the door. Phineas pulled it open. The caseworker carried the girl with dark braided hair into the living room. Her brothers introduced themselves gently. I took a seat on the floor. Dari looked around at us all, blinking her dark brown eyes. She seemed to make a decision. She crawled off the caseworker’s lap, the feet of her lavender footie pajamas landing softly on the floor. Her eyes met mine. With a jolt, I recognized the courage within them. The girl from my dream!
I opened my arms. Dari toddled right to me in her familiar footie pajamas. Before I realized it I was holding her, feeling how right this baby felt in my arms. A feeling that wasn’t new to me at all. “You are fine,” I heard myself whisper to her. “Everything’s going to be just fine.”
They were the same words from my dream. The ones God had spoken to reassure me. I knew Dari was just where she belonged. All of us were. Because, ready or not, we were a family.
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