So this is what they talk about.
This is what some people caution against.
This is what some people think is not truly possible.
This is why so many people say they "could never be foster parents".
This is that spot where your heart goes, even while knowing it might be headed for breaking...
I don't know if it's possible to truly love a child who you have just met because they've been brought to live at your house suddenly. Yes, affection for their cuteness and a desire to care for them, but love? If you don't even know the child, if they are a complete stranger to you, is there really much actual love possible right away?
The first week or so with Brother and Sister just felt like 24/7 babysitting. Stressful babysitting. We had never parented before and suddenly we were expected to take care of two little humans at different stages of their little life. We found ourselves asking our families and folks close to us things like "What do 18 month olds eat?" and "Do you put a 6 month old to sleep on their stomach?" But it was more than that. It was also "What does this particular 18 month old like to eat?" and "Does this particular 6 month old prefer to sleep on her stomach?"
We didn't know these kids. They were little strangers in our home.
We know that Brother adores turkey, cheese, strawberries, tortillas, apple juice... We know he nods his head when he eats and we don't know why but it's adorable. We know he likes to growl like a lion...or pirate...we're not sure which. We know he throws both hands in the air and hollers "Yaaaaaaaay!!!" all the time, usually for no apparent reason. We always join in. We know that he often gets "hi" and "bye" mixed up and will blow kisses to anyone in sight. We know that he has more tantrums on days when he has a visit with Mom. We know that he sleeps like a champ and watches TV standing literally 3 inches away from it.
We know that Sister prefers to sleep on her stomach. We know she is probably the most smiley baby in this city and that her hair on top curls into one very stereotypical baby curl. We call her Cartoon Baby on occasion. We know that actual baby food makes her gag and throw up and we're not sure what to do about it. We know her little body asleep against our chest is the snuggliest feeling ever. We know that shots make her feverish for four nights. We know that when she came to us she couldn't sit up, roll over or hold her bottle, but now she can. We know that she smiles in her sleep.
These kids found their way to our home and then quickly to our heart. There's no question now that we love them. Oh do we ever. To any naysayers who think it's not possible to truly love a child you did not give birth to, frankly, you're wrong.
It's in the smiles and antics and laughter. It's in the immense pleasure I get making his lunch each night for the next day. It's in the recognition on their faces when we show up at daycare to pick them up. It's in our grown up hands reaching down to two little outstretched ones wanting picked up for a hug and a quick staring contest. It's in the interrupted nights, throw up clean up and tantrums.
It's there. Love is there. And it's not going anywhere, even if these children might.