The last of the gigantic, life-altering events in our May to Remember occurred on May 24th. It was the culmination of Nine Hundred Eighty-Four days: the time spanned between “placement” and “permanency” for our six foster children. How can I begin to summarize the surprising, agonizing, nerve-wracking, exasperating, love-filled, exhausting, wouldn’t-change-it-for-the-world journey this has been…
Nine Hundred Eighty-Four days.
Days filled with loving a sweet little toddler too traumatized to speak, and months of waiting till she was ready to love us back. Night after night after exhausting night spent cuddling her frail baby sister who, plagued with night terrors, could only find peace curled up in a ball on my chest.
Days of joy as the bonds of fraternal love grew between our Efrain and his new sisters, of whom he became very protective.
Days of wonder as we watched the silent one blossom into a fiercely competitive, ferociously funny five year old.
Days of anxiety, frustration, and determination as we waited, and badgered, and pled with the court and DCS until finally six months later, we were able to reunite the three older siblings with our two little girls and all five of them were living together under our roof.
This is the very first pic I took of all the siblings together.
Days of adjustment and learning new ways of communicating, of disciplining, and so much learning about patience.
Days of rage fits, and threats to run away, and actually running away, and calling the police, and writing lots of “Dear DCS” letters about all manner of incidents, from beads stuck up the nose to bonks on the head to broken limbs.
Days of fighting the system to get a diagnosis for the boy I knew was autistic, and then fighting the school for an IEP that never materialized.
Days of “I hate you!” and slammed doors and stink-eye.
Days of “I love you, mommy!” and hugs and a full lap and face covered in kisses.
Days filled with firsts – like the first trip to the ranch, and the unadulterated joy of running down the hill to the valley, of playing in the mud canyon and exploring all the washes and claiming tree forts and learning to build campfires and eating hot-dogs and s’mores.
Days of waiting for the new baby to be born – and then waiting anxiously while he remained in the hospital for several weeks until his lungs were mature enough to come home.
Days of bonding between our older children and these new younger ones. So much love is shared between them! Love, camaraderie, teasing, annoyance, all the good stuff of which families are made.
Days of teaching our precious faith to these wide-eyed, open-hearted children, who drank from the streams of living water and kept on asking for more – and soon will complete their journey into the heart of Mother church with their baptism, confirmation, and first holy communion!
Many days and many nights spent pondering the magnitude of what the future might bring, of the loss that must be felt by the parents of these wonderful children, and the profound responsibility entailed in parenting them permanently.
And finally, the long-awaited day when we were awakened by the happy squeals of “It’s ADOPTION DAY!!!!”
A moment captured – six brand-new Heidmanns!
Outside the courthouse, here are all eleven Heidmann kids!
And, because you know me, you know I can’t let an event like this go by without a MASSIVE photo dump. I’ll be super impressed with anyone who has the time or inclination to look at all of the 1,274 pics I put in The Great Big Adoption Gallery – Part I, Part II and Part III! 😀 I mostly did it for our family, since the kids LOVE looking back at all the pics. But my heart pretty much explodes when I look back through them. Wow, God is so good.
It’s been a wild ride to get to this point.
Now begins the real quest: our mission is to get each other to heaven!
Let’s get to it!