Monday morning, August 23. The day was lovely: a bit windy; but sunny and warm. Before Matthew was awake, I engaged in an early-morning work-related phonecall for almost an hour. Then, after Matthew and I ate breakfast, I took him to his outdoor swimming lessons in a little town just east of the city. I enjoyed sitting in the sun as he swam. I wondered, resting there, whether our other two children would be participating in these lessons a year from now, and envisioned their little bodies flinging themselves off of the pool's edge as they enjoyed the water. I hoped so. But I was feeling peaceful about everything again, knowing that everything would happen at the right time. I felt warmed inside and out, sitting there.
There was no lesson immediately after Matthew's class finished, and so he and his cousin, M, were able to play for a while in the water. It was a happy morning. When the kids were finally out of the water, I took both Matthew and my niece home with me, and they were talking a mile a minute...so excited to be having a playdate that day. We made it home shortly before noon and I puttered around for a few minutes before deciding that it was time to get lunch going. The kids were crafting at the kitchen table and I was enjoying their chatter.
Just after noon the phone rang. I checked the call display and, when I saw that it was a blocked call, I almost didn't answer, thinking that it was a telemarketer. It never dawned on me that it might be my local adoption agency, first because their number wasn't on my phone's call display, and also because I'd told Bonnie (program director at the agency) that no one should ever call my house unless it was the call. And I wasn't expecting the call. I was expecting that our Imagine caseworker would be calling later in the afternoon to commiserate with me on our wait, following the email I'd sent her that weekend.
At the last moment, standing in the kitchen, I answered the phone. I said hello. The voice on the other end of the line said, "Ruth, it's Bonnie."
For just a split second, I thought, Bonnie who? I only know one Bonnie and she's with Adoption Options...so who is this Bonnie? Do I have Alzheimer's?
Then the moment passed, and I thought, oh. Ooohhh. Really? Is this it? Is this the day? Is this the call? This is the one!!
I started to cry, and I managed to squeak out my question: "Bonnie! Is this the call I've been waiting for, for over eight years?"
Her answer: "Ruth, maybe you should sit down, because this is the call you've been waiting for, for so long. This is it!"
I am all weepy even now, over a week later, thinking about how it felt to hear those words. In some ways, that was the absolute best part of the call, because it was in that moment my anxiety fell away and I could finally stop waiting, and I knew that I was about to learn how our family was to be completed. It was just a matter of finding out the details and filling in the blanks, and I already knew that those things would be incredible. The sense of relief, of joy, just hearing her words, was over-powering. I almost (almost!) needed to hang up just so I could live in that moment of joy and thanksgiving for a while longer.
Instead, I stumbled my way into my little office just off of the kitchen, and sat down at my desk. Right where I'm sitting now to record the memory. I mumbled something about whether this was a serious call or not, and asked if it was really true.
Turns out, it was true. Bonnie's next words were something like: "Ruth, I'm so pleased to tell you about your beautiful children."
Children??? Children?? As in, more than one? I don't understand.
I said, or screamed: "Bonnie, what are you telling me? Are you saying that we have two children? We got siblings?"
I started to sob. Uncontrollably. Loudly. Not delicately.
Matthew and my niece came running into the room, hearing my wails.
Bonnie said: "YES - you got siblings!! You have a referral of a little boy and a little girl!"
Me: "I have a boy and a girl?" Nothing was sinking in.
My niece asked me what was wrong, and there was concern on both of their faces as they stared at me. I tried to collect myself, to alleviate their anxiety. Then I took Matthew's arm, and looked at him, eyeball to eyeball from less than a foot away, and said, "Matthew, you have a brother and a sister!" He looked back at me for a second of silence, then gave me a thumbs up, and said "awesome." The look on his face, and his tone, were of surprise - not about the referral, but because of my shock. This was, after all, what he had been expecting for over two years! My niece again asked me what was wrong, why I was crying. Matthew looked at her and said, "M, she's happy!" As if, duhh.
Over the next several minutes, Bonnie told me the children's ages and that they were beautiful. As we talked, she sent me a bunch of emails with their pictures and information. She told me their names, and birth dates, and a bit about their background. I just remember saying, over and over, "I can't believe it" and "we got two?"
When I finally hung up the phone, I immediately called Geoff on his cell phone (which was the number we'd agreed I would use only for emergencies and for 'the call'). I got him in a meeting, which he rushed out of as I yelled, crying, into his ear that we got the call. He was stunned. Siblings??!! He was in the car within five minutes and on his way home. I called Melissa at Imagine, and barely made it through saying who I was before I started to cry again. It was hard finding enough words to encompass the meaning of thank you.
Then I called my parents and my siblings and shouted into their ears for a while, before calling Geoff again and talking his ear off while he drove home (don't worry - he's hands free!). We took a few breaks in conversation so that we could start phoning other people who've waited along with us, and those calls were such joys to make! At some point during my wait for Geoff, my niece came into the room and very hesitantly, and very politely, mentioned that she and Matthew were very hungry for lunch. Oh, my goodness, I'd entirely forgotten! I went into the kitchen, not caring one fig about lunch and having no clue what to give them. My eyes fell on the blueberry crisp that I'd made the night before and, for the first time in my life, I put dessert in front of the kids for a meal! I plunked that crisp onto the table, along with a jug of milk, stuck two spoons right in the middle of the serving dish of crisp and said to the wide-eyed kids "go to it! Enjoy!" I don't know if they were more excited about our referral or about having dessert for lunch, but it was a good day for them, all 'round.
While they chowed down on their feast, I waited the entire one hour and fifteen minutes of Geoff's drive home without looking at the pictures waiting for me in my email. As hard as that was, there was no question in my mind that I would wait for Geoff. He's the one who's travelled this journey with me, for better and for worse. He was there when we first got a sonogram picture of our long-awaited and miraculous Matthew, and he needed to be with me again when we first glimpsed our second and third long-awaited and miraculous children.
So when he got home, we looked together, for the first time, at the four tiny pictures of our two new children. Stared at them. Tried to compute that these were our children, Matthew's siblings. It was a strange, surreal experience. We'd waited so long for that moment, but the news hadn't really sunk in yet that we'd received a referral of siblings - so it was with a sense of what? we have two more children? that I first looked at them. One of the first things I noticed was that their heads had been shaved so that only a black shadow showed - a quick moment of panic flitted across my brain as I contemplated what our daughter's hair would be like. Our daughter's head was quite large, and I next remember thinking that hair would be helpful! Then, I looked more closely at their faces, and I remember touching them on the computer screen, trying to sense the feel of their skin, trying to absorb it. As I looked at the close-up photos, I welled up with tears again, seeing the fear in all four eyes that looked out at me, and recognizing in our son's eyes a fierce intensity that told me that this was a boy who had need to be strong. Oh, how I wait now for the day when I can be strong for him.
I've heard and read of many other prospective adoptive parents looking for the first time at the faces of their new children and falling in love instantly. That wasn't quite my experience. I knew with utter certainty that I would love these children and knew already that I would do anything for them, as I would for Matthew. But I can't say that I immediately felt overwhelmed with love. It was more of a sense of wanting to protect, wanting to nurture - a certainty of knowing that the love would be there. For me the feeling of love, the feeling of these truly being my children, came a few days later, during a conversation that I will describe sometime soon.
For now, I simply want to bask in the warmth of our joy.