Gotcha Day. December 20, 2013. A new adoption term we learned through our process is that of the Gotcha Day. The day the kids officially become ours in our hearts, although they are not 100% officially ours for another 6 months. So for our kids (and yes I like saying that) our Fowler Gotcha Day is 12-20-13.
Friday the 20th, I went to work as normal, we have half day Fridays which is awesome to get off at noon to get some errands run... and on this particular Friday, my mind was halfway across Texas. I saw one patient and managed to finish all my paperwork while having my head in the clouds and when 10 am rolled around I was done, checked out, and left work with lots of well wishes from my coworkers.
This was the day I became a mom.
Like for good. No more leaving the kids at their foster parents and driving away from them again, no more saying lets count down the days till we see each other again... These kids were to become mine on this day and I was being instantly thrown into the motherhood category. Boom - parenthood.
How do I even begin to describe how I felt... terrified is a good place, anxious, nervous, happy, excited, overwhelmed, stressed out... yeah that about sums it up. I'm glad that I had a long list of "to do's" that day because I would have gone completely bonkers just sitting around waiting for them to arrive... and I am a doer not a sitter as my mother is so staying busy is usually my comfort (as weird as that sounds). So after I exited work early, I went straight to the kids school to get them registered as Friday was the last working school day until the new semester starts on the 6th... so it was today or never pretty much... luckily I stayed up late working on their school forms (to which was also quite frustrating and I may have shed a tear or two bc I just didn't know or have some of their information. This is of course going to be part of the process for the rest of our lives bc some of their information that I come across that I will need I will never have... again such as some birth information or pictures and I again have never seen a baby picture of either child) ... so I turned in their school forms as complete as I could get them. I totally had sticky noted for the parts that I needed to go back and fill in their missing info... the lady looked at me like really? but oh well thats just how I roll.
Next stop was the grocery store. I mean they need food, right? So I set out to get us groceries... and I must digress here to say that I usually shop at walmart or albertsons... yes, I would like to be an HEB shopper bc I would like HEB, but something about the store drives me up the walls and stresses me out... so my coworkers and friends have been trying to get me pumped up into trying HEB. Literally every time I've gone in there I have had a nervous break down or disaster for some reason... even when I went with Robert one time... but anyways, I decided to go to HEB. I had time to use as the kids were not expected to arrive until around 5ish. It was raining heavily that day and their caseworker was a little behind schedule leaving town. So with my HEB giftcards (thanks again friends!) I started in the produce, grabbing some fruit and salad things, a few veggies, I moved onto the cheese and meat isle... and the panic began to rise.
Not only was I in the middle of an unfamiliar store on the biggest day of my life, but I had absolutely NO idea what to put in my basket. What do these kids eat, what do they like, not like, what makes them sick, what makes them happy, what is healthier options for them, will they try new foods, what I'm just wasting my time and this money for nothing... The questions took over me and I literally started to freak out... in the middle of HEB.
I was so overwhelmed by the questions and uncertainties and the realization that I had no idea what to do or what I was about to get into that the anticipation of this moment became too much for me emotionally, too much physically, and too much for me to mentally handle any longer. I broke down.
Thank God for his special angels that he places within our path at the right moments we need them most.
As I was having my breakdown I ran into the manager of HEB who happens to be a lifelong family friend and someone I trust. He was standing in the middle of an aisle and I just walked right up to him and started to cry. He knew we were getting the kids on that day in a few hours and just talked me out of my broken state. I am very grateful to him for being there.
So I collected myself and stepped up to the challenge of going down each aisle and finding some snacks and meal items to the best of my ability and headed to the checkout. There in line I ran into my friend again who was talking to the lady in front of me. She moved forward and I started to unload my monsterously crowded basket of stuff onto the conveyor belt. I had bought the kids some V8 berry splash juice... bc I had heard it was good, not that I knew what it tasted like, but v8 has veggies and fruit so it was a winner in my book... anyways, so the lady asked me if the juice tasted like tomatoes... I honestly just stared back at her bc I didn't what to say or how to begin, so I told her the whole story... "well let me tell you my story, I'm about to adopt two kids and needed to get them groceries and someone recommended this juice to me so I put it in my basket but I have never tasted it." Her turn to stare. "Now wait, you are adopting two kids and you are at the grocery store?" she said.
"Yes, they have to eat don't they."
"well when do you get them?" -lady
"In about 3 hours."
"Wow, ok. Well I'm blown away by what you are doing, and at Christmas time too, how cool..."- lady
I don't share that to pat myself on the back, but to say that even a little conversation about juice can lead to a chance to share what God is doing in your life :)
OK so I continue... I get home from the store, unload groceries forever it seems, and I desperately call my mom to see if she would be available to help me organize and somewhat straighten our house. There was still alot of little projects left to do and the kids' stuff was not all yet put up in their rooms. She was willing to come help and as she got out of her car I just crashed on her shoulder in desperate need of a mommy hug.
She worked with quick diligence and by the time 5 came around and the kids were 30-45 minutes away, we had the house somewhat cleaned up, dinner cooking in the crock pot, and my excited nerves in full motion.
We had talked to the kids on the phone that day and I knew that they were excited - Elva a little nervous and not feeling well from the drive- but excited none the less. This was a huge life change for the 4 of us and there was no turning back now! It's funny bc everyone was asking me all day how do you feel and even afterwards, how does it feel to be a mom? I don't know if I can answer that just yet. As I'm writing this its been almost 7 days and I just don't know if I feel like a mom just yet. Not completely. I know this isn't true in reality, but in my mind and in the atmosphere of our home right now I feel as though I have to earn that title - Mom. These kids have had multiple "mom" figures and right now I'm just another one of those... in their eyes they want to be here with us forever, but there is still a possibility we will turn out like everyone else and not keep them forever (of course we know thats not going to happen, they are ours and God has given them to us for a purpose), but none the less, I'm just not yet into the realization that I am now a mom. It will take time to hit me of course, but again its something that I want to show these kids that I can earn to be called mom.
So at 5:45 on December 20, whether I felt like a mom yet or not, the moment was upon me... and Robert, but I can't speak for him. He is always so calm and collected with things like this, drives me crazy but thats why I love him :)... with the down pouring rain, the kids came running in ... and with them a ton load of stuff. I mean bags and bags and trash bags and Christmas bags and more things here and there. The state will buy Christmas presents for children in foster care through various organizations and since they were still in foster care when the lists went out, they came with presents - about 12 each. It was quite a crazy mess in our house as we were trying to put their presents away in our closet, give them a grand tour of the home and of their rooms, as well as manage all the paperwork we had to do. The kids' caseworker and HollyAnn from Addys Hope were also in our home for this special occasion and to get our placement paperwork in place. I was signing things here, initialing there, stirring dinner, answering questions, and keeping track of important copies left and right... all while Robert was corralling the kids. They finally settled down playing the Wii while we finished everything that had to be legally done for us to have the kids in our home.
After we said goodbye to the kids' caseworker and to HollyAnn, we sat down for our first meal together. Waylon eats at about the speed of a tornado so he was finished quite quickly and Elva eats like a sloth very slowly, but they ate, we organized some of their things in their rooms, allotted time for baths, and then settled in Elva's room for our first family time. We prayed and allowed the kids to say prayers and talked about how grateful we were that they were here ready to be part of our family. It was a picture perfect time... they slept in the same room (Elva has a trundle that pulls out under her bed for Waylon when he wants to sleep in there) and we kissed them goodnight.
Then we headed to our room and finally was able to take a breath. Again things felt like a dream at this point... are there really two kids sleeping in the other room? And we get to do this forever? Oh no, what do we do tomorrow? How do we be normal and make this transition easy? And Christmas is coming did we get enough, what is there left to do? Questions again came into our minds, but all we could do is stop and pray. How thankful we were that this moment had finally arrived and yet how terrifying that it was here. Again I can't say that that first night was all magical or anything, after I got over my anxiety attack from earlier, it was just simply a very nice evening. The excitement will continue for a few days and then we will have some serious work on our hands, but this is what we signed up for and God willing there will be a perfect ending in sight.
And now to forever celebrating our Gotcha Day.
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:23