14 years ago today, "Mary" (not her real name) gave birth to her 6th child. This child was a little girl, 4 pounds and 17 inches. She was born at home. Then the paramedics were called and "Baby Girl King" was taken to a local hospital. (You're called Baby Girl or Boy and the last name of your biological mother if she doesn't give you a name.) Ironically ... this baby was taken to St. Joe's. (If that sounds familiar, it's because it's the hospital where we take Manny.)
Baby Girl was discharged on 11/19 to a foster home. A few days later it was discovered she had a brother in foster care "Baby Boy King" and she was moved to be with him.
Meanwhile, across town, a family was working feverishly to get their paperwork and classes completed to be able to adopt a child with special needs from foster care.
They said, "He has a 2 month old baby sister." Uh ... no, as a matter of fact, we did NOT know about her! Turns out she was in the room the whole time. I never even got to see her.
Dan and I decided to take the weekend and pray about it. Afterall, we had NO children. We were thinking of adding ONE child. But two? Both with special needs? A newborn and toddler? Different race? It was a lot. But I knew. I sat in the car knowing those were my children. I tucked that in my heart.
On Feb 14, we sat down and had our heart to heart. Dan shared all the reasons that we shouldn't adopt them ... and then he added that ALL of them were based in fear. None were justifiable reasons. And we said yes.
It was at that moment, I knew I was going to be a mother for the first time.
Over the next couple of weeks, we told the social workers of our intent to adopt them both. They tried to deter us. They were all Black social workers and we are of course White. They wanted them to stay with a Black family. I bluntly asked how many Black families had come forward for them? NONE. In fact, we were the ONLY family who had ever come forward for them. I finally quoted them the law about non-discrimination. I guess they realized I wasn't as "blonde" as I appeared!
They finally agreed they would be placed with us. We just needed 3 more weeks of paperwork. So Over the next 3 weeks, I visited them as often as I was allowed. Basically every morning until bedtime. I fed them breakfast, played with them, took them places and put them to bed in their foster home.
It got harder and harder to leave them there. They didn't want to go! They wanted to stay with me.
March 23 Kaley came home for good. I remember sitting there just staring at her. She was still very tiny and a bit frail. She had a lot of medical issues. But she was perfect. She was amazing. And she was MINE.
I was there for first crawl, first steps, first tooth. I missed the first few months of her life but truly I missed very little and for that I'm very grateful.
Over the years, she's gotten stronger. She's not as medically weak any more. She rarely is sick. She is smart and funny and witty and loving and kind. I know no other person like her. Her heart is full. Her compassion is complete. She amazes me daily.
On her 12th birthday and again on her 13th birthday Manny ended up sick and hospitalized. She never complained. We made it up to her best we could on other days but ... still.
So today, I am thrilled to announce that Kaley got to celebrate her 14th birthday NOT in the hospital. We did part of her celebration yesterday. Grandparents came by and brought her presents and ate cake with us. Today we went shopping and found a few special things for a special young lady.
I can't help but reflect backwards on the past 14 years. I have never once second guessed our decision to say YES to our little bonus baby. We thought we were getting one amazing son and we ended up with an amazing daughter as well.
I also think about how difficult my life would be currently without her. I've written numerous times about all she does for me, especially with Manny.
But I also am reflecting forward. What will the next decade bring? Driving a car? Boyfriends? Husband? Children of her own? Career? Missions? Traveling?
I have no clue. I just know that I'm so happy to have a front row seat. I have a feeling that whatever it is she chooses, it will be extraordinary. Kaley loves with abandon and the world is in dire need of people like that.
So I say to you, Kaley. You are so very precious to me. I am proud to be your Mama. I am excited to walk the next years beside you. I will always be your biggest cheerleader. And I hope you never forget how much I love you. You are a blessing to the world. And a blessing to me.