Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.
The kids still have the same favorite stuffed animals. We have the same Toyota Minivan. My garage still needs to be cleaned out, and there are too many oranges in the kitchen. Oh, and Jack is still begging for a treehouse/fort — and building his own out of branches he scavenges until he gets it! Just to really drive this point home, we have had the kids in our home and a part of our family for over 3 years. Even while being Foster Parents, we were the only home they knew. They were with us every day, good and bad. They were safe, wild & loved.
Yet now that adoption has finally come, on glorious March 2nd, 2021 — everything has changed. This last week our sweet trio officially became Maloy’s. They forever have a family to protect them, teach them, grow them, nurture them, cherish them, love them and to forever call home. It’s the biggest deal in our little family’s world. Everything has changed. After 1117 days of waiting to breathe that sigh of relief and sink into the beautiful thing God is knitting together, we are officially in the eyes of the State, a forever family.
Our kids are mercifully little. The waiting, the unrest, the sleepless nights, the good days, the bad days, the scary phone calls, court dates we wished would stop, visits upon visits (thankfully with caseworkers we loved), the ups and downs of uncertainty in Foster Care — those things are over. And like I said, mercifully our kids are little. Jack was young when he came to our home, Arissa Mae was not even a year old, and Little Bear (Sean) spent 6.5 weeks in the NICU (where we got to visit him daily), and he came straight home to us. We are unbelievably blessed that they have known they were home WAY longer than they have officially & legally been home. In their simple way, the simple faith of kids, I have no doubt — they’ve known they are home. Why wouldn’t they?
All of a sudden nothing is different, but really everything has changed. The immediate moments afterward were a blur. We were all tired (still are) from the emotional roller roaster and release of excitement and relief. We sped back off to normal the next day, which in hindsight might have been a dumb choice. But as each slow moment, on the drive to school, getting ready for bed, chatting while doing dishes — something became more and more real. The kids are home. We are forever a family. It finally happened. We can make decisions about the future with a little more certainty. We can dream about fun adventures and plan great memories for the kids. If you ever read The Chronicles of Narnia, the last book, “The Last Battle”, there is a portion toward the close of the book where as the characters keep journeying into “the real country” and the colors, sights, senses are awoken, because everything they’ve longed for, that they didn’t know they were searching for is becoming more and more real as they head “further up and further in”.
Below is another little excerpt from “The Last Battle” that keeps coming to mind the last couple days. Because as “everything” is over — it’s only just begun.
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis
I long for this that kind of life for my kids. I am sure I fail daily to really do this Dad thing well. And then even as write it down, I remember… I can’t do this on my own. I can’t do it in my strength. I have to trust daily that God is as good as He has proven Himself to be through this long 3 years.
Over and over and over, God has proven Himself to be more good, more faithful and more loving that I have ever understood before. I pray I don’t forget it, and I pray I can surrender well — so when we slow down and look back — we will see how every chapter of our little family’s story is better than the one before. And when we do slow down enough to look back, I will thank God that He did this.