The hardest part once you have been selected to be an adoptive parent is the transition period. The time between when you first meet the child and when the child moves into your home. For weeks — in some cases, months — everything is temporary. Life is suspended. Time is reduced to a series of visits. You steal moments. You create false realities. You are your best self, which is to say, not your true self.
While the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia were busy crossing their respective T’s, we were trying to become a family. Not the easiest thing to do when you are basically living under the terms and conditions of a 30-day money back guarantee. Still for six weeks we shuffled back and forth between Pittsburgh and Wheeling (and on several occasions, points further south of Deliverance).
It was all very clandestine. Weekend meetings in hotels off the interstate gave way to weekend meetings…at our house off the interstate. Saturday and Sunday came and went and then Monday, it was back to reality.
It was hard. No matter how many times we would see each other, no matter how much progress we had made on a previous visit, each time was the first time. We were like characters in a play, rehearsing until we got it right. Every Friday was the read through, Saturday the dress rehearsal, and then just as the curtain was coming up on the Sunday matinee it was time to say goodbye.
The goodbyes were the worst. You can’t explain goodbyes to a five year-old. Or an eight year-old. Not when you the adult don’t understand them yourself.
So we would say goodbye and Elijah didn’t mind. At first. But then he did. Then he wanted to stay except he couldn’t because that would have been kidnapping. He may have been ours, but not really. So…goodbye. And Chris would cry. Every time. Because he has a lot of feelings. Goodbye. And Todd would get very quiet. Goodbye. I don’t want to go. And my heart would break in two.
Until today. Today there are no more goodbyes. Nothing is temporary or suspended or stolen. Today the T’s have been crossed; the play has been rehearsed. Today Elijah is ours and we are his. Today. Now. Forever.