Seven Weeks And No Stretch Marks

Nobody knows better than I how quickly life can change. One moment you can be the mother to three kids and then in the next breath you have a ghost child clinging to your back and a family broken with grief.

You would think with this type of knowledge burning a hole in my brain I'd be better prepared for the challenges of change life likes to toss at a person.

Yet, the morning the phone rang and our lives altered destinies once again, I sat there blinking in stunned disbelief, unable to fully comprehend the new course our lives were about to embark upon.

Sometimes I need to be smacked upside the head with a baseball bat for things to really sink in. Which made high school physics class all the more interesting.

It was the week before Christmas and I was sitting at home alone while the kids were in school and Boo was working, playing on the Internet while occasionally looking up to stare at the sparkle of our Christmas tree. This was the first Christmas season since Bug's passing that I was able to actually find peace in the season instead of having my heart shatter into a tiny million pieces with every blink of the Christmas lights.

I was marveling at this change in my spirit and how at peace I felt for the first time in three years. Peace has eluded me since the night I walked out of the hospital alone, with only a plastic bag as a reminder of what I'd left behind on a gurney in the emergency room.

When the phone rang and the local adoption worker's name appeared in the call display I remember smiling, thinking our worker was calling to wish us a merry Christmas. There wasn't any other possible reason for her to be calling us. Our dreams of adoption died the moment BamBam was yanked from our arms.

After all, who in their right minds would agree to let me, a Redneck with a bad rep, have another child?

Small talk ensued with our soft-spoken social worker until she casually mentioned there was another social worker interested in placing a five-year-old child with us. Would we be interested in considering this little boy?

At first I snorted with laughter. Then I questioned this unknown social worker's credibility and intelligence.

"She does know I was an accused baby beater right? She does know that your hired shrink thinks I'm bat shat crazy, right?" I laughed.

My social worker, a soft spoken gentle woman sighed heavily like she is prone to do whenever she speaks with me and assured me the woman knows all about me and even reads my blog. And she was still interested in placing this child with our family. With me.

"Besides Tanis, you aren't an accused baby beater," she joked. "You're an accused baby abandoner."

(Black humour. It gets twisted folk through the day every time.)

I remember staring at the dancing of the Christmas tree lights as I spoke with my miracle worker and telling myself not to get my hopes up. Christmas was a mere few days away and I couldn't risk the emotional roller coaster of a broken heart just as Santa slid down the chimney. Fric and Frac deserved more from me.

I told our worker Boo and I would very much consider this child but I shot straight from the hip with her, like I always have. I thanked her for telling me about this boy and that we would hope for the very best but I wasn't going to get my hopes up. Too many times I have cried from having my dreams denied. I truly didn't believe this time was going to be any different than all the other times.

I had learned to protect my heart with a thick blanket of polite cynicism.

Our social worker sighed heavily once again and chided me for being such a negative Nancy and wished me a Merry Christmas. She explained how the match wasn't final yet so she couldn't guarantee anything but she'd let us know shortly into the New Year if the adoption would proceed.

I hung up the phone, half exhilarated yet half worried I'd be thrust back into a pit of hell surrounded by broken dreams and crushed hope once again. With every crack in my heart I worried I'd never be able to recover. I was running out of glue to hold the pieces of my shattered heart together and I could ill afford another fissure.

Boo and I talked about the boy, the boy who needed a forever family, and we discussed if he would be a fit for our family. It was difficult to examine the idea of bringing home a new child when our hearts still bled tears for BamBam; who will always be our son in our hearts. It felt disloyal to consider adopting another boy when we were still holding out hope to bring BamBam back to us.

After much discussion we decided not to even worry about it. This match wasn't official so Boo urged me to push this boy from my heart until after the holiday season. "Don't torture yourself wondering Tanis," he worried to me. "If it's meant to be it will work out."

For once, I listened to my husband. It was a Christmas miracle he likes to joke. We didn't discuss the boy much and we held the knowledge of possibility close to our hearts without telling family members. It was too early and I refused to get my hopes up. I wouldn't allow hope to fracture the tenuous grasp on peace I had finally achieved.

For two weeks during the holidays I pushed thoughts of this boy from my head, trying not to wonder if he was my son, trying to instead enjoy the moments of the season with out be haunted by what-if's.

Monday after the New Year, my husband and were sitting on the couch enjoying our first bit of silence since the kids ripped open their Christmas loot when the phone rang. When I saw the government number on the phone I panicked. I knew this call would be important and even though I had tried not to get my hopes up, I didn't know if how I would handle another disappointment. I didn't want to find out.

Relief flooded through me as I listened to our social worker explain the match was made official. The boy could be ours if we wanted him. The choice was now ours. Were we in?

It took a nanosecond for me to agree and with a slight nod from my husband indicating his agreement, I told our worker we were interested. With those words, hope flooded through me and shot out my finger tips like I was Fiona from Shrek transforming into her true form.

True to government form, there was one last hurdle to overcome and more waiting to endure. We had to wait two more weeks to find out if the government officials would give our social worker and the boy's social worker approval for the match. My worker assured me this was merely a formality but I've been around this government block a time or two and I knew how easily the adoption officials could squander my hope.

Boo and I decided not to tell anyone in our families or community about the possibility of a new little Redneck. We swore our children to secrecy and explained to them it wouldn't be official for another two weeks. Two more weeks of waiting and wondering and trying to keep a steady reign on my heart that had already decided this boy was mine, my forever child.

Fourteen sleeps later and it was all over with a simple call. Just like that, the government rendered it's approval and stamped us an official match. My intellect had a hard time accepting there wasn't more pain and torture involved in this process. Everything up to this point in our adoption journey was difficult, how was it this was so easy?

I kept waiting for the axe to fall and kill our hopes.

It never fell.

A week later, Boo and I made the journey to a city in Alberta where we met with our social worker and the boy's and his current foster family. It was the information meeting where Boo and I would learn everything there is to learn about this boy and his past. It was the pivotal point in this process, designed to arm Boo and I with all the necessary tools to make an informed decision as to whether we wanted to open our family up to this boy or not.

I was nervous, worried the foster family wouldn't like me, the boy's social worker would meet me and see me and my tattoos and decide she had made a huge mistake and snatch back this child so close to our reach. My angelic social worker laughed at me and told me to relax and be myself.

Easier said than done when only the day before I had posted about yeast infections. I wasn't exactly the classiest gal in the room.

The meeting, an all day affair where we learned everything there is to learn about this unknown boy, went swimmingly. Except when I nervously poured myself a cup of coffee only to have the lid of the coffee pot come off and coffee spill everywhere including onto my lap.

I always did know how to make a good impression.

Listening to the boy's history and his medical conditions only cemented what my heart had been quietly whispering to me since the original call before Christmas. This boy was meant to be mine. He was meant to be Tanis and Boo's son, Fric and Frac and Bug's brother.

We were supposed to wait at least a day before rendering our formal decision and letting the social workers know if we would agree to be this boy's forever family. But Boo and I knew and rightness settled in our hearts before leaving the building this boy was ours.

The decision was made but there was one last thing to do before we could absolutely be positive we had a new son. We had to discuss this new future, this new family member with Fric and Frac. They had been through a heart wrenching tragedy and endured the valley of ups and downs in our pursuit of adoption.

It was only fair to allow them their thoughts and examine their feelings before consenting to bring home this son Boo and I knew should be ours. I won't lie to you, I was worried. I was plagued with "what if's?" Sure my children had tacitly and patiently agreed to an adoption but now with the reality shining before them, what if fear would change their minds and hold them back?

But Fric and Frac constantly amaze me with their graciousness and their overwhelming capacity to love. If anything they were as eager as Boo and I were to bring this child home after hearing all about him and his life.

With that, it was done. A son. A new brother. A bigger family. It's been seven weeks yet it seemed like it's been forever.

Family and friends have been notified, closet space has been cleared and names have been chosen.

Tomorrow, Wednesday February 11, 2009, I get to meet my son. For the very first time.

I can't wait to introduce him to the world. And I'm so glad you are all along for the ride.

Here's hoping the kid likes tattoos and nipple rings.