It's so strange the way life plays out. "Strange" is the best word for it, really, but I don't mean that in a negative way at all. I mean strange as in "unexpected" or "unpredictable" or "exciting" or "funny" or "not at all in the way I would have ever imagined it." You know, strange.
Tuesday night we got a call. It was about 9:30. We had just come back from dinner with the Norths. Kelly was sitting down to do her homework and I was sitting down to get more writing done. The phone rang. It was Omni. "We have a thirteen year-old girl and she needs a home tonight."
Omni had called us before, telling us about ten and eleven year olds who needed foster care. Our response was always the same: "I'm sorry, but we're not prepared for that. We're looking for a child who is five years old or younger." Writing that sentence feels awful. We always felt awful turning children away, but we've never had children before. We wanted to have the closest thing to a natural experience as we could. We have spent the past couple of years preparing for a baby. But there was something different about this call.
Kelly hung up the phone and we discussed it. At first I was wondering why we were discussing it. Thirteen is well out of our "five or under" range. But as Kelly started sharing London's story, there was a tickling in the back of my brain. Call it the still-small voice or call it my spider sense, but there was something about this story and this child I couldn't ignore either. We called Omni back. We had a few more questions. Listening to more of London's story, Kelly looked over at me with a silent, "what do you think?" I nodded back, "let's do this."
London showed up thirty minutes later. She was with two Omni coordinators and a trash bag full of her clothes. While that was the first time we met her, we didn't really get to meet her till the next day. The people from Omni talked for so long, London was asleep in her bed before we got to say two words to her.
Since then, we've gotten to play and talk and get to know each other. London is one of the sweetest girls I've ever met. The glimpses into her past infuriate me. Knowing she's been in foster care for two years saddens me, as I would have loved to have brought her into this home two years ago, and give her two more years of love and stability than she's had.
We've only had her for four full days, but we're already making plans for the future. She wants to take dance lessons. She wants to be a veterinarian. We're saving every five and ten dollar bill we find for a trip to Disney. She's never been and really, really wants to go. She also wants to go to New York, but for that "we'll have to save every ten and twenty we find, that's a whole lot more expensive!"
And Kelly and I already know we're going to do everything to make her dreams come true. Today's her 14th birthday. We have a pool party planned. Tonight we'll introduce her to Doctor Who, tomorrow we'll finish preparing her for school and Monday she goes back to 8th grade.
No-one ever imagines the strange. Everyone imagines the traditional. Go back in time to any point in my life and ask me about the family I would eventually have, and I never would have plotted something like this. But now that I'm here, I wouldn't change a dot of it.
Here's to all the strange, strange years to come!