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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Not for the squishy of heart


As If You Haven't Read This Already.(redux)

This is a post I drag out every year for April 9th, slightly amended for 2013.  If you’ve read this every year for 9 years, know that I cherish you and you can move on; if  it’s your first go, be prepared  for sentimentality:
April 9th is a very special day in my life.
In the sixth year of my first marriage, my husband was very taken with a story of a child who was available for adoption. In those days, most Canadian newspapers displayed pictures of children chosen by the Children’s Aid with a little story about the child’s background, and solicited enquiries from interested potential parents. Intrigued by a photo, he wrote in and we were duly contacted and investigated by Children’s Aid.

By the time the bureaucracy was behind us, a shockingly efficient 5 weeks, the child was no longer available for reasons unknown to us, and we became resigned to being childless, as we were leaving in a few weeks for a posting to Europe.

We had sold our car and put our belongings and papers in order, had even had a few goodbye gatherings with our friends when on a Friday, I got a call from our social worker to say that there was a child we should see in Hamilton; she gave us some background and dropped over a picture of a sweet-looking child with one of those vulnerable-looking shaved-sided haircuts, and a T-shirt that, heartbreakingly for me, had I Love Daddy printed on it. She said that we could see him the next day if we could get to Hamilton—a two hour drive. We had friends staying with us that weekend who were happy to make the trip, so we left at 9:00 and went directly to the Children’s Aid offices there, feeling excited and nervous, not wondering at the fact that Saturday was an unusual day for a child visit.

We met with the social worker, who told us a bit about the parents in this “case”, the child’s history of being shuttled back and forth between foster homes and his grandmother’s. More nervous than ever, we settled in our very utilitarian and straight chairs, waiting to see the “child”. What burst through the door and headed straight for my husband was an 18-month old, darling round-cheeked baby still at the lurching stage, babbling about his toy—the most pathetic sock-monkey you can imagine. I was totally and irrevocably in love.

His name was Chris, and we were allowed to take him out for a walk, and to meet our friends who were at a nearby Mcdonalds chewing on their fingernails.

I can’t remember a word that was said, nor what our hopes were, but when we got back to the office, the social worker asked us if we’d like to take Chris home. There was absolutely no question, although we were astonished at how quickly everything was going, so, in a daze, we went back to Mcdonalds while the social worker got Chris’s belongings (which arrived in a smallish green garbage bag), and Chris showed a preference for fries with ketchup. He launched himself from one table to another, fries in one beautiful little hand, a new truck in the other, and totally won our hearts.

We were home, with our new son, before 5 o’clock the same day, and our house was full of friends and family, boxes of pizza, new and old toys, a toddler’s bed, a kid-size hockey stick, four new pairs of pyjamas, a high-chair, balloons and an incredible level of energy, love and excitement. I can still feel it, and it’s unlike any other family-friend event we’ve ever been involved in.

Although April 9th is not his birthday, it’s still special for us.  Chris is slightly over more than 40 something this year—and he’s still lovable, still my joy and my worry, lovingly adopted by each of my husbands and a good if annoying brother, a loving father, a fun uncle and a sweet and caring family guy.  And every April 9th, as on the birthdays of my daughters and on our anniversary, I think how random and surprising life is and I can’t believe my good luck.

Chris and Dave 1975

Emily, Chris and Sarah on his wedding day 

Chris and his daughter Phoebe, summer 2012

6 comments:

  1. This story is epic, legendary and so touching! I love the telling of it every year. Happy adoption to Chris, you and Dave!
    Evelyn

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  2. I love this squishy post every year!

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  3. An oldie but a goodie (the post, I mean!). Babies that are meant to be yours sometimes take quite a detour, but they get to where they belong.

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  4. I love this story!!!!! You could post it every day and I'd still love it!!!! And I'd still applaud you!!!!!

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  5. I love it too. How lucky Chris was to find his "forever" family, and how lucky you were to have him come to you ... and goodness, how handsome was Dave? Not that he isn't, still, but you know what I mean.

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  6. As you know - we share the adoption story, just from different sides. Thank you for posting this - and thanks to EVERY heroic parent who made the decision to adopt!
    I hope all continues to go well for you :)

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