First visit home

We have no control over things that happen to us in life. But we can control the way we respond to them.

A couple of weeks ago someone rear-ended us during commute hour, before a busy roundabout. They made an honest mistake but they bent our trunk door and broke our bumper. We were on our way to an evening of fellowship with other adoptive parents.

Yesterday, the evening before bringing Ivy home for the day, a tall shopping cart collided with the corner of our back windshield, and it shattered it. A freak accident. But such an inconvenience. As we drove home without a back window, calm and kind of detached, we realized this state of mind should be the norm. Getting upset solves nothing.

At home we cleaned the shattered glass from inside the car and I called tata to help out – he always knows a guy. Sure enough, before the evening was over, we found a solution and the car was in the shop. In the morning Tata let us borrow us his car to drive and bring Ivy home.

We arrived at Ivy’s foster parents at 9 sharp. She was waiting in the door, with shoes on. She was excited to go to the City. She hopped like a bunny into our arms, her long pigtails bouncing joyously.

We drove to Cluj and made a first pitstop at the store – to get candy (as she promised) for the foster mom and a dress for her baby. And she was so sweet in the store. It was a good real life experience to be had.

At home she went straight to the toy-kitchen and started playing for what seemed a long time, by herself, talking, mixing, preparing. She had daddy join her in the kitchen as well. She ate yogurt and fruit we just bought and then we went to Jackie’s school. She waited patiently for her and received an enthusiastic hug from her big sister as she came out.

Then we spent over an hour at the park. It was sunny and perfect to be outside. It just hit me: we were at the park with our girls. Our daughters. Plural. Ivy is adventurous, and balanced and goofy. We must have been more relaxed as well… because it seemed so easy.

At home I cooked pasta, Jackie took Ivy down to the grandparents to bring Rufus home and stayed a few extra minutes. Ivy went in confidence. My parents seemed very relaxed and excited and comfortable with this first meeting. I remember we were all clumsier and more nervous when jackie came home for the first time.

Conrad even had time to work some, though he was often summoned by the girls to play. He had to postpone joining them at least a few times. But when you are such a fun playful dad, allowing yourself to say: “Not right now. Daddy is working.” is good and healthy. They understood and sure enough he made time to play. I cooked in the play kitchen too. I was a sous-chef. And Jackie was a tease. She “spilled” her coffee a few times, and the more serious Ivy responded, the more Jackie teased her.

Ok. So the nap talk was brought up. Ivy looked and me and said: “I don’t think I need to sleep.” But even a nap was an interesting experience in a new bed. Jackie offered to lay down next to her and rub her back. Ivy fell asleep instantly and rested for almost two hours. Plenty time for us to work and jackie to finish her homework. Yes, in first grade / prep school she has homework. It’s a journey of learning to be responsible. Luckily she likes to be studious …because frankly, in a busy season like we experience now, with prepping our youngest daughter to transition into our family, navigating the bureaucracy, and having Jackie tag along like the trooper she is, homework is an afterthought and a burden otherwise.

Ivy called for me often, to help her or to play with her. She called me mami with the sweetest voice, running to me. And she meant it. It reminds me of what a foster mom said, that kids should be allowed to call their foster moms mom, because it is then when they learn the meaning of mom. As the reliable, available, trustworthy caregivers who loves them. The name itself is secondary.

It was a beautiful day. Perfect by any standard. Ivy met Jackie’s neighborhood friends: Razvan & Tudor, Daniel & Iosif, Matilda & Tobias. All the young siblings are close in age with her. What a treat! What days to come!

Jackie was sad at the end of the day, saying she doesn’t want Ivy to leave. She wants her to stay forever. It felt very natural having her home, and she didn’t ask to go back. Yet. When we said it’s time to go, she thought for a while and said: “I’ll come back tomorrow”.

Jackie was tired. So tired. On our way back she fell asleep instantly. One hour each way to the foster family. And we did this trip twice today.

I hope she can come home for good in a couple of weeks. (These long days on the road are taxing). She is leaving behind a good foster family to graft to our family, and continue to blossom. Kids are a gift for a little while. At any stage. And because of adoption we have been gifted the clarity of mind and heart to enjoy our kids wholeheartedly. As the pure gift they are. For a little while. In the very present time.