12 years ago on 11/11/99, a tiny little girl was born. Her birthmother knew (due to her circumstances) that she was not the best choice of a parent for her. This little girl was born in a home in Tampa and then the paramedics were called. The birthmother said she wanted her placed for adoption. That was the last time they saw each other. She didn't even give her a name. So for the next two years, her legal name was "Baby Girl King."
This tiny girl was taken to St. Joseph's hospital. (If that name sounds familiar, it's where I always go with Manny and Zoe has her cleft surgeries.) She was tiny but likely not premature. She was drug addicted but otherwise healthy. She spent 9 days in the hospital before going to a foster home. After 2 days in that foster home, the system discovered she had a half sibling in the system. They moved her so they could be together.
For the next 3 months, she was there ... it was not a good foster home. (I'll leave it at that.)
Meanwhile, during all that time, her adoptive family was working towards their certification, classes, home study, background screenings, etc. This family found a wonderful adoption agency ON THE DAY she was born (but not knowing it at the time) and decided that was their agency.
Her brother was legally freed for adoption and matched with this family. They met him, fell in love and that was that. At the end of the meeting, the social worker said, "You know it's both or none, right?" And I was like, "Both what?" And that's the first time we heard about the baby sister.
Crazy part is how we met.
I was with hubby and we were about to ride the elevator up to the meeting. We knew the foster mother was coming and it was not customary (or even approved of) for the foster kids to come to this initial meeting but she had no baby sitter. So she brought the son. As we waited for the elevator, a white mother walked up with a double stroller ... an 18 month old black boy and a baby in the back. We knew instantly this was the little boy we were there to discuss. (Meanwhile, remember? We had no clue there was a sister, much less that she was in the back of the stroller.)
So the whole meeting, I was playing with this child who turned out to be our Jacob. I completely ignored this other baby in the back of the stroller. Afterall, why play with some random baby versus bonding with my soon to be son?
So at the moment they said, "Both or none" and I said, "Both what?" They picked her up and said, "This is his 2 month old baby sister." ::pause:: WHAT?
By ths time, the meeting was over and I'd blow the chance to see her, hold her, touch her. And now we had some thinking to do. We went in knowing we were going to get an 18 month old black son with some special needs and now they throw in a bonus newborn with special needs too??? Were we ready for this???
I instantly knew YES. This were our children.
The little girl was not legally freed for adoption like Jacob was so we had to do 3 extra weeks of paperwork to be licensed. So we did. During those 3 weeks, I went to visit the kids almost daily. Doing baths, taking walks, feeds, etc.
March 22, our daughter slept in her foster home for the last time. From that point forward, she was our little girl (not legally at first, but that came). We changed her name ... legal name was "Baby Girl" but they called her Vanessa. (Which meas "butterfly" ... and she is tiny, delicate and beautiful like a butterfly). But we decided to call her Kaley ... "Black Princess with powerful energy" was the meaning I'd read.
Over the past 12 years, this little girl has turned out to be an amazing gift. I am so thankful for the "bonus baby" God decided to give to us.
You all know a bit about Kaley and her amazing heart... like how she stayed with us the whole 3 weeks in Gainesville. You have read about her giftedness with Manny. I have bragged before about her amazing creative and artistic abilities.
This is one special, sweet, amazing gift to me and to the world. I don't know exactly who she is going to be when she grows up. She has the ability to be "the boss" and get the job done (don't let her small stature fool you into thinking she is weak). But what ever she decides to do in life, she will do great. And I know one other thing ... she will have a proud Mama standing beside her, cheering her on.
One special thing she said to me a long time ago when we had a miscarriage (Kaley was old enough to understand) ... she was very sad for "the baby that died". she said that she will have a baby in her tummy some day and she wants me there when that baby comes out since I didn't get to have that. I was in shock as that was something we'd never talked about but she "knew" and she understood.
One funny thing she said to me when she was about 4: we were talking about what she wanted to be when she grew up. Doctor? Vet? Teacher? and she said, "I want to do nothing. Just like you." LOL (She has since recanted that statement ... but it certainly was funny at the time.)
My message to Kaley today and every day: My dearest Kaley. I don't know how I got to be the luckiest mama in the world to have you be my daughter, but I'm very thankful that I was chosen. You are a bright spot in my day. You lighten my load daily. You make me proud to call you daughter. I will be there for you. I will hold your hand and kiss away the hurts of life the best way a Mama can. I will cheer for you and help you be the best "you" possible. You are one of the biggest gifts of my life. Daily, I'm amazed at you. May God continue to shine His favor on your life. You're a blessing my sweet daughter.
All my love,