Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Ten years ago, at this very moment, I was crammed into a minivan with five other bodies and lots and lots of stuff.

After all, tiny tykes come with not-so-tiny amounts of cups...plastic seats...more clothes...more diapers...more toys...more diapers...strollers...

...and no small amount of scawwies, love, hugs, kisses, tears, stories, and more love.

That first night, I had no idea of what lay ahead of us.

I think I might have thrown up if I had.

I almost did, as it was. I was no parent. I could keep the cats alive, sure. They were self-cleaning and all of them were very well trained according to the rules of the house. I was thirty-two years old and had no clue how I was supposed to handle three little girls come morning.

Enter my dad, who decided "suddenly" to stay as he probably just mentally acknowledged that my mom's advice before he'd left home the previous day, before we picked up the girls, was right: Stay overnight a second night. They're going to need you.

The girls adapted quickly, and soon were amazingly comfortable with us.

Oh, we learned so much in those early days...

  • Kitties could "bite" toes from the next room.
  • Snack and juice at 10 a.m. made getting to lunch without the crankies a lot easier.
  • Mika would lower himself to eat French toast, but Popoki wouldn't.
  • Middle loved all things squishy and stuffed.
  • Oldest loved to dress up.
  • Youngest had baby radar. (And a baby was anyone younger than her.)
  • Disney princesses can perform amazing feats.
  • Talking Veggies are fun.
Mom and Dad came out about a month into this Experiment to give Hubby and I a date night, and we went out to dinner, promising ourselves we wouldn't be one of those couples who only talk about the kids.

We only talked about the kids.

Except for Hubby's comment about the motel nearest to the hospital, and his wondering if it rented rooms by the hour. Because, you see, we were both so tired that a movie didn't appeal, but a two-hour nap sure did.

That was the night Hubby asked my mother the question. "Mom, how long do you think the girls are going to be with us?" This was, after all, supposed to be a three-month gig.

Mom didn't bat an eye. "Eighteen years."

"No, really, Mom. Seriously. How long are the girls going to be with us."

"Eighteen years."

As it turned out, she wasn't wrong.

We learned unpleasant things, too, like how underweight the girls were. How much they didn't expect regular meals. (It took them six months to realize hungry meant food is coming soon. Heartbreaking.) They were all developmentally behind. 

We got them help. A developmental therapist came and worked in our home with the twins for an entire year. A physical therapist also came to work with Youngest, who didn't walk independently on her own until she was 20 months old. Oldest entered speech therapy.

So much has happened over the last ten years that I hardly know where to begin.

  • We filed suit for custody of the girls in June of 2009, after they had been with us more than a year, because my brother and ex-sister-in-law's planned move for the girls would have put them directly in harm's way. We also filed a petition of special relief, to keep the girls in our custody until the custody suit hearing.
  • I was in a terrible car accident in July of 2009, and the girls and I moved in with Mom and Dad for two and a half months.
  • Hubby left his ministry position and began the search for a new one.
  • We went to Daytona Beach, FL, with my parents in 2010.
  • During the time it took us to reach a hearing, there countless visitations both in person (Bro) and via Skype (Ex-SIL), fourteen months, five continuances, two judges, and one pointless conciliation hearing. But, on August 6, 2010, we were as shocked as my brother and his now ex-wife when the judge handed down her verdict that day, awarding us full physical custody and guardianship, along with shared legal custody with Bro and Ex-SIL. We spent the next week in Ocean City, MD, on a planned vacation with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.
  • We enrolled Oldest in Kindergarten in 2010.
  • Hubby found a new ministry position in 2011, and we enrolled the twins in preschool.
  • We bought a house and moved to a smaller town north of where we lived when the girls first came to us.
  • We enrolled the twins in Kingergarten in 2012.
  • We traveled to Ocean City, MD, during the summer of 2012 with my parents.
  • We've said some sad goodbyes to dear family members: Popoki and Keiki (2012), Pa'ani (2014), Minouchette (2016), Koa and Mika (2017).
  • We went back to Daytona Beach on vacation in 2013.
  • We filed a petition for termination of rights for Bro and Ex-SIL in December 2013, after long silences by both of those parties, so that we could pursue what we all now wanted: adoption, the legal acknowledgement of our family.
  • We said goodbye to Youngest's tonsils and adenoids in the spring of 2014, making her the first of the girls to undergo surgery.
  • The termination of rights hearing was held in front of our custody judge (from 2010) in April 2014. My brother pursued appeals all the way to our state Supreme Court, on the grounds that we had not bonded to these girls who, by now, had been calling us Mom and Dad for several years (we were originally Auntie and Uncle), and had not seen him in nearly two years by the date of the termination hearing.
  • We invaded Daytona Beach for the third time in 2014, also working in a few days in Orlando, where we got to see Mickey!
  • On April 9, 2015, our judge granted our adoption petitions, and we became legally what we had been from the very beginning: a family.
  • Oldest also said goodbye to her tonsils and adenoids in May 2016. There was much rejoicing.
  • Special Edition joined our family on May 28, 2015, in a move we'd been hoping she'd make. 
  • We visited the Gulf side of Florida with my parents, staying at their place there in 2015.
  • We weathered the toughest loss of all in June 2015 after our Florida trip, the girls' beloved Poppa, my dad.
  • In the firm belief that chocolate cures many things, we went to Hershey Park.
  • We visited our nephew's family in Virginia in the fall of 2015 and spent a couple days seeing museums around D.C.
  • Middle had eye surgery (she's an overachiever like that) not once but twice, correcting a vision abnormality she had (2016-2017).
  • We discovered a nearby (ish) lake that was so much fun we visited it two summers running.
  • Middle sustained a concussion and learned she was a heart patient this year.
Today, we are ten years a family.


Our school year wraps up on Friday. We'll have an 8th grader (Oldest) and two sixth-graders (Middle and Youngest). The summer promises to be an adventure already: Oldest turns 13, everyone has
camp, the twins have summer band lessons, we're spending a few days visiting Special Edition and Mr. Nurse, and we plan to do something fun to celebrate marking a decade together.

I can't wait for the adventures of the next decade.



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