We added a new boy to the family this week (fortunately, not by the phone call of the foster caseworker to announce the birth of a sibling!). Stephen was officially adopted by my sister in a small courtroom in downtown Pittsburgh. He is the fifth child of his biological mother to be adopted out and the judge who followed this case for years was so touched that it was “ending well,” that she came over especially to “proclaim” the adoption. I am so excited for my sister.
It’s been a long time coming with many heartaches. When Stephen was about two months old at the first court hearing, the judge said she would have handed him over for adoption right then and there, knowing the birth mom, if the CYF system had asked for it. Instead, for the past two years, it’s been up and down with numerous, numerous attempts to help the mother “be” a mother….until recently when her “rights were terminated” as a parent….and she fled the state to try to block the “system” from taking her next newborn baby a couple months ago.
So Kathy has gracefully ridden this roller-coaster of hope and heartache, and all the while has loved this little guy every single second (including, even if not actually obvious at the time, when he spills a full gallon of milk splashing across the table and cascading majestically to the floor, upending his cereal bowl on a near-daily basis, and removing his own diapers at some of the most inopportune times!).
And now, it is final. Stephen has a new name……Karl…with a “K.” (It’s going to take a while to get that imprinted in my brain. I’m getting pretty good at it…except when he’s about to pull all the bananas onto the floor, or is pounding on the dining room table with the tines of his fork, or is gleefully flicking the lights on and off in the living room….and I slip into a stern “S-t-e-p-h-e-n!”) It will probably take even longer for the boys to figure out the name change, as Noah asked today “who’s Karl? Where?”.
It’s been a good time to review “name changes” and adoption with Micah. He likes to ask what his original name was. We review that he was born to another woman and came to live here when he was a very tiny baby. We review that I love him “forever, for always, and no matter what” and I renew that commitment in my head. We discuss that Seth will also one day change his last name (I already switched his first name when he turned one as that was easier for me J) and become “forever” family (hopefully in the next few months).
And even though I can talk about this to Micah (and sometimes to Noah who doesn’t really pay attention), it still sometimes seems so surreal to me. I know that Micah and Noah are forever mine…..that I am their Mommy (because they “tell” me so hundreds of times a day!)….and yet, sometimes, I sit back and pause and say “wow….I am a mother….” I can easily think of many things that I am – a woman, a Christian, a doctor, a night-owl, a reader, a work-a-holic (most likely), …. and I am a mother. This is one of those “I am” things that is palpable in the way that I become very defensive on behalf of the boys, in the way I beam with pride in their very very little league sports accomplishments, in the way I peer intensely into their eyes sometimes and say “I love you.” Sometimes you can just touch that “mother” aspect and roll it around and bounce it here and there. You can lift it high, you can bend it, you can smash it, you can pound it….but you can never ever ever break it. I am their mother – forever, for always, and no matter what. And this Christmas season I am thankful (again) for that gift in my life.
Kathy realized as she hung the stockings that this year, Seth’s name had changed from one with a K to an S….and Stephen’s name changed from an S to a K….and so our stockings of last year with initials embroidered upon them still reflect our family perfectly. A perfectly good little family.