It was a Wednesday morning around 10 and we were just getting things opened up at the car lot when Christy’s phone rang. It was July 31, 2013 to be exact. It was a number that looked familiar but we weren’t sure who it was. When Christy answered, all I heard was, okay, I will be right there. As she started bolting out the door, I asked what was happening. She told me our Little Miss who we had been waiting to get wanted to meet us. We closed the lot and headed out! It was with that phone call when we went from a table for 4 to a table for 5.
The case worker, was telling her all about getting a short term visit with her over the weekend. She was telling her maybe we could pick her up for some time and maybe if she wanted, she could spend a night or two with us. As we walked into the office to meet her for the first time, our hearts were beating crazy fast. It was like we had rushed to the hospital for the arrival of one of our kids! As we sat in the room with her, she was shy and didn’t have much to say. We talked to her about things she liked and about us in general terms. She seemed to liven up a little more as we showed her pictures of her soon to be sister, brother and dogs. We showed her pictures of her room and told her we were ready for her to come live with us. As we got close to the end of our first time with her, she looked at the case worker and wondered why she had to wait a few more days to spend more time with us. The case worker asked her what she meant and she let her know she wanted to go with us and if she couldn’t then she at least wanted us to come get her that night. After discussing it with her current placement, the case worker and her boss, they agreed to her request.
I should have realized from that discussion, Ella gets her way. She was nice about it but questioned the reasoning of waiting and has been questioning things every day since! In good ways and in bad ways. As we moved from hoping to get her to “Gotcha” day and beyond, we have learned many things about ourselves. Every person who has been in this gap of her life has learned something about themselves. Some good, some bad but always a learning experience!
Christy and I have learned being parents to kids you have from birth is hard but having someone come in your home after 8 years of being with other people is a whole new challenge. What worked for E1 & G didn’t always with E2. It was frustrating at times and tag team parenting has become a must in our house. When one parent’s tank is empty, the other tags in and takes over. With the help of our counselor, we have learned how to adapt to every situation and how to diffuse fuses after they have been lit but before explosions occur! We have been stretched emotionally and spiritually. As we took 1 step in a positive direction, it seemed we would get knocked back 10 steps. But we refused to give in or give up!
The time since gotcha day hasn’t always been easy. But it has taught us people, especially kids, can change when people love on them. And sometimes the love has to be extremely tough. There have been times she has missed out on parties, dinners, time with friends or her electronic time because of the bad decisions she has made. There have been times because of a fit she wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with us until she has calmed down and wanted to act like a part of the family and there have been times when E1 & G have been allowed to leave the house just to chill because of her poor decisions. Some might say this is harsh but when it’s done in love, it’s tough love. We are just trying to get certain behaviors out of her system now because later in life, these actions won’t be tolerated. It’s better to learn now than have to change later.
There’s also been the great times! The first of everything we have done has been amazing! Her first true vacation, first live football games, first family party, first time to play a team sport and her first score on the sports. Watching her face go from scared to overjoyed as she got to do something new.
And her teaching us how to be more thankful for the things we have and to not take for granted our blessings but to share them. I have probably learned more from her in the past year than she will ever know. Her stories have made us cry and hurt but they have helped us understand her a bit more. Neither of us came from her situation and helping her through these tough times has been trying on us but growing us at the same time.
As I looked back at our gotcha day pictures, I see a child’s eyes without hope, love or direction. She looked lost in this world and it pained us to see any child this way; especially one we cared for so much. She didn’t even look alive when we got her. But as time passed, every time her case workers would come in, they wouldn’t recognize her from one month to the next. She was growing physically but emotionally, she was healing. She started to gain hope in the love she was being shown by not only us but by so many people. Grandparents, case workers, counselors, church leaders, friends at school and our friends. They fully accepted her and this did her heart well. She has grown so much over the past year and as she grows, she becomes more alive.
She reminds me of me most of the times and this makes me smile. She is a “Daddy’s” girl but when she really needs love, she always turns to Mommy. She is ornery but loving. She can be crude but heck, can’t we all! She’s tough and has plenty of “street” smarts. She is beginning to take jokes better but she certainly dishes plenty of them out. She has the full love and support of E1 & G as their sister and this shows at home and at other places. For this, I am thankful.
As we come to this day, adoption day, we are full of happiness and joy. We haven’t done this by ourselves. We have had the love and support of so many people over the past year. I can’t imagine doing this without each of you. We also couldn’t have done this without the provision of our Lord and Savior. From the very beginning, we have seen God move in ways only He could move. From moving in my hard heart in the very beginning about 18 months ago to getting every piece of paperwork back from the state and the feds in perfect timing. This wasn’t us, this was all HIM!
I don’t know how Ella’s story finishes but I do know from Gotcha to Adoption, it’s been wild and crazy, just like her! And we wouldn’t have done it any other way!
We truly thank you all for your help, support, prayers and love.
With all the happiness & love in our hearts,
Dennis, Christy, Elisabeth, Garrett & Ella Amason