Monday, August 16, 2010

This is Home.....

"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family."
~ Anthony Brandt

Ok. Some of those reading this aren't necessarily on my Facebook friends list, so they have requested to hear more about our adoption.  And since we are preparing to go to North Carolina this week, I thought I'd indulge them (while maybe boring the rest of you) by telling our story.  Part of this came straight from my note on Facebook - so those of you re-reading...God Bless Ya!

Kerry and I always said we would adopt someday. He has adopted family members.... I have siblings who are not blood related. It was just a God-given desire in our hearts to add to our family this way.

And I guess, in true Charee fashion, I thought it was all in my hands. I thought I'd decide when I was ready, God would work out the details based on what I wanted, and a precious baby would land in my lap someday. I was a girl mommy, so I was sure it would be a girl.

One of the few childhood pics Billy has of himself.
What I wouldn't give to rock THAT sweet little boy to sleep!
Well....along the way God was working on HIS version of the plan. And I'm pretty sure now that He knows me better than I know myself, because he brought me the child my heart longed for and didn't know it. A BOY no less! And not a baby at all. A 23-year-old boy!

I met Billy when he was about 14. I'd taken a job in a place where there were kids who no longer lived with their families for various reasons. Many had been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Other were privately placed. Either way, I met some of the greatest kids I will ever meet while I worked there. Billy happened to be one of those great kids.

He had the cutest smile and the uncanny ability to do something mischievious and look completely innocent. I can honestly say he always made me laugh when he came in the office.  Neither of us can neither one pinpoint the moment that we started talking regularly, but by the time he graduated from high school, he was stopping by my office to chat about what he was going to do with his life. He had been accepted to WT and was going to run cross country. He had a car. And he was ready for the independence he was about to experience. 

Of course, I found myself wanting to take care of him even MORE when I realized he was about to embark on the 'college journey.'  So did Kerry. And we were so glad my mom worked at the university so she would be available if he needed her. Maybe that was the first nudge God gave me. But I wasn't listening very closely....because I just kept "mothering" him without really thinking about being his mother!

Over the years, Billy was just part of our household. He didn't have any close family (his birth parents neither one were in the picture much)....but he has lots of people who love him. Christmas, Thanksgiving.....last minute name it, he's been part of it. As far as we were concerned, he was part of the family. We met girlfriends, cooked him dinner, helped him find jobs. Kerry even had him work at the shop for extra money. He was just always around - and we loved it!

After he went into the Marine Corps, he was working on his paperwork, and I got a text from him asking if he could list me as his next of kin. I was SO honored - and quickly replied yes! (You'd think at that point it would have crossed my mind that God wasn't just nudging. He was yelling "HERE HE IS!!!! I am giving you a son!!!!"  But I clearly wasn't really paying attention.)

Then last Christmas (the first one since he'd become a Marine), he called and asked if he could stay with us when he came home. Again - the answer was obviously yes. I really couldn't believe he'd ask instead of just calling and telling me that he'd be home!

I look back now and it makes my heart ache that he felt he needed to ask at all.

He'd tell you that he just didn't want to intrude. I say he hadn't "bought in" to being part of our family yet. Either way, I wish I'd been paying closer attention when God was giving me His obvious hints earlier in the that question wouldn't have even come up.

Not long before he came home, my mom called to tell me that she been watching some tv show about adoption and that we should adopt Billy. (God clearly decided to try a new approach.) Kerry and I discussed it and thought it was a great idea. We also talked to the girls about it only to find that they were instantly ready for a big brother. 

When we were at my dad's house over New Year's, we talked to Daddy and Keren about it - and they thought it was a great idea too. So everyone was in agreement.....except Billy. NOW we had to ask him if he even wanted to be one of us. And we all understood that he might not want to go that far.

I did start making phone calls.... I needed to know just HOW to adopt an adult! Thanks to Brian and Vaavia Edwards, I learned the process is pretty easy. We just had to be sure it was something Billy desired as much as the rest of us.  Unlike an infant adoption, he could say no.

I braced myself and called him the night before he was coming home for President's Day. (I wanted to do it in person but if he wanted to decline, it would've been easier for him on the phone.) I wasn't afraid he'd say no. I was afraid he'd think we were crazy!

Gracey was sitting in the floor in front of me while I put sponge rollers in her hair. And I just grabbed my phone and decided to call him right then. She could barely sit still while I was talking. She kept turning around and giving me the thumbs up. Lol (I should mention that she would ask me at least twice a week when we planned to ask him, so this was a long time coming in her mind.)

My mental speech tumbled out so fast that I am surprised he even understood one word. I kept reminding him that he could think about it. And I kept explaining that we just really love him and wanted him to know that he was part of our family. He told me later that he could tell I was nervous. (Imagine how weird that must have been on his end of the phone.) 

We laugh about the fact that he was the only one surprised by the whole thing. Poor guy! I'm sure he thought  we were crazy!  Of course, you already know that he said yes. And the rest of the conversation was just talking about how it would be done, etc. and how excited we were to see him the next day.

After I hung up the phone, I called Kerry at the shop - where he was feverishly working on Valentines orders - and we all did the happy dance!

His homecoming the next day was even better knowing that he wanted to belong to us..officially! The next couple of months really run together in my mind. I know that we were all thankful for unlimited text plans - and we spent a hours and hours just talking about things we'd all never thought to talk about before.

We discussed about the past, present and future. We talked about whether he'd change his name and what he'd do when he finished his 4 years in the Marines. (Yes, he's changing his name...and he's coming home to live near his MOTHER when he get done!)

We relived all the stuff we've all done together - and planned all the things we want to do. You name it - we discussed it.

And it all was leading up to the most important moment of all. The official adoption!

The papers were drawn up. The affadavits were filed. The court date was set: the Friday before Mother's Day. The one thing that wasn't going to happen though was Billy being here to go to court. Talk about sad! I cried buckets!  We'd  hoped to have him in town, but thanks to his new position with the MEU, he was training all over the place. And none of us wanted to wait any longer to be official. So....we were going to make it happen no matter what.

I know Billy so well...but I highly underestimated his love of surprises! (He didn't get that from me!) May 7, 2010 - just a few hours before we were to be at the courthouse, my son came walking into my office!!! And, by the end of day, we were officially a family of 5.  Our family became complete - and we all spent one of the best weekends of our lives together!

So.......there you have it. That's how Billy became officially ours. (And how we managed to have a child who was born while we were but teenagers without being teenage parents!)

And let me just add, my last pregnancy was by far the easiest of all of them! (Kerry says it came with a job and car too....haha)

I love you, Billy!


kmstx said...

I could read this a thousand times and love it as much as the first! I love hearing you tell our story! You're the best!

Jan said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story of love and faith in one another! Crying tears of joy for all of you!!!!

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