A year ago today, we met our children for the first time. Only at that time, they were only our possibly-maybe-future-children.
We received a phone call late in the evening of November 10 from the foster parents. They had been given a green light from their social worker to set up a rendez-vous with us.
See, as par for the adoption course, and especially with older children, the first meeting is set up to look like a chance meeting. You may go to a park, sit on a bench, and watch the child play. This is an observation meeting. The child is never to know you're there and never know who you could possibly be to them. From this, you're supposed to get a better feel if there's going to be a fit.
Since Wifey knew the Foster Mother, we were given the option to "run into" the family and have a little interaction with the kids.
I planned and plotted on the phone with the Foster Father. We decided that since they were planning on going to Home Depot the next day to take the kids to one of the store classes, and that Wifey and I were in the middle of a kitchen renovation, that we could have a chance encounter in the hardware section. Then, we'd be invited to join in and help the family out at the kids' workshop.
The only thing we didn't account for is that the next day was Remembrance Day.
The next morning, Wifey and I showed up early for our meeting. I remember feeling nervous, my stomach dancing, simultaneously excited and terrified. What if we didn't like them? What if they didn't like us? What if they were weird about us being gay?
When we pulled into the parking lot of Home Depot, we thought it looked empty. We parked the car and then dashed through the rain to the front doors. Only, the front doors didn't open. We looked for a sign, but we didn't find one. Then we went back to the car and waited.
We didn't have the foster parent's cell phone number. We had no way to contact them. We didn't know what kind of vehicle they drove. We had no way to approach them without giving ourselves away. So we sat in the car and waited. We thought about driving away. We were both on the verge of tears with the anticipation of about to being disappointed. And, upset that we were about to have to re-schedule a meeting that we'd been waiting to have for over 4 1/2 months.
Finally the foster parents drove up. The foster dad got out and went to the front of the store to go in. The doors didn't open for him either. He looked around and went back to their van. They pulled into a spot and waited.
We waited in our car across the parking lot mentally trying to get their attention.
Nothing happened. No one moved. We sat in our respective vehicles, each unaware that the other was there, trying to figure out what to do next.
I turned on the car, pulled out of our spot, drove around the parking lot to pull up at the front door. Wifey got out and went to the entrance again. The doors still didn't open. She waited and waited. Trying to look obvious. Hoping that the Foster Mom would see her and make something happen. Wifey then returned to the car. Just as Foster Dad left his car and went to the entrance, again.
Pretending not to recognize the other, Foster Dad and Wifey conversed. Foster Dad talked while looking at the front entrance with his back turned to the parking lot and Wifey talked while looking at me in the driver's seat. Once we discussed that Home Depot wasn't open, we didn't know why, and had no idea when it would be open again, we hatched another plan.
We could go to Chapters because that was a place they took the family to read in the children's section.
Twenty minutes later, and across town, we pulled into the Chapters parking lot and went to the front doors. The doors wouldn't open.
We couldn't believe it. I almost broke down in tears of frustration. Chapters wasn't open either and it looked like we would have to re-schedule. We walked back to the car.
Sitting there, dejected, Foster Dad tapped on the window. McDonald's would have to be open, he surmised. Let's have a really early lunch.
We came up with another story to tell the kids. This time, we were meeting them at McDonald's to give some renovation advice.
The foster family pulled up to McDonalds and went in. We pulled up to McDonalds and went it. And it was there, for the first time, that we met Bella and Bubaloo. Our 30 minute chance encounter turned into a 4 hour long pit stop.
We spent some time eating all together and interacting with the kids. The kids spent time playing in the play place. We spent some time to getting to know more about the kids through the foster parents. It was such an incredible afternoon.
It was during that time that is was confirmed for us - these were to be our kids. Even though they had no clue who we were. We were just some friends of the foster parents.
Today, in celebration, we went to McDonald's and relived our first meeting.
As a family, we always go back to the final minutes of that first meeting together. When saying goodbye and walking to our respective cars, Bubaloo donned his sneaky face. Waving goodbye as he walked towards our car, he proclaimed to the foster family, "See you later. I'm going home with them!"
All the adults laughed at his joke.
Bubaloo thought he got a laugh because he made a funny. We all laughed because little did he know how true his words were. In a few months time, he would be coming home with us as his forever family.