There are some stories that are just too beautiful to tell. The very words to express the joy, devastation, fear, and peace do not exist. I need you to know that. I need you to know this is an injustice. I need you to know that no matter what I write, she is a million times more special and precious than I can ever communicate.
I had just turned 22 years old and two months into my first teaching job. I loved every moment of it. The kids -- oh the kids. They were mine. I attended their football games, their ballet recitals, their softball tournaments, and their birthday parties. I worried about them, prayed for them, loved them. Some more than others -- but I loved them all.
Then there was Calvin. Calvin was almost 14. And in the sixth grade. Calvin was taller than me. And he was mad. Mad at me. Mad at the school. Mad at his parents. Mad at his circumstances. Mad at the world. Calvin was in his sixth foster home. Sixth. And he hated it. He was in fight after fight at school. And time and time again I pleaded to the principal NOT to suspend him. I would watch him 24/7. I took him home from football practice. I drove him to his away games. I brought him and his brother to church. Just don't make him spend another minute in that house. Cause I had a pretty good idea of what was occurring in his foster home -- and it wasn't good.
After a few more incidents and some phone calls to his foster dad -- I picked up the phone to call Calvin's social worker. She was there that afternoon to interview me. Six weeks later Calvin and his entire family moved in with my best friends from church. The rest of the story is too painful to tell in this post. But I failed Calvin. He is now in a detention center.
In the initial interview with Calvin's social worker I mentioned that Indiana Jones and I would be interested in pursuing foster placement for a pre-teen boy, and would love for her to send us the paper work to get started.
We had not thought about kids yet. I wanted them. We both did. But not yet.
Three hours later the phone rang, "This is Miriam, Calvin's social worker. We spoke earlier? I know you were looking for a preteen boy, but we have a one-year-old girl who needs immediate placement. would you be interested?"
"Let me talk to my husband. I will call you back tonight."
I remember walking into our bedroom to find IJ still in his military uniform. I sat down on the bed and began to tell him the story. I left it with, "Maybe we should meet her first to see."
He responded, "See what? If she's pretty? If she's good? If she fits a mold? No. Decide now. Either you will love this baby no matter what or you won't. We don't need to see her."
And with that I picked up the phone.
We went through the fast track of classes, home inspections, referrals, and putting those electrical plugs in the outlets. That is all I knew to do.
Then we met her. At the zoo. With her uncle. And. she. was. perfect. PERFECT.
Eldest Twerps was born to a teenage mom. A precious, beautiful, wonderful teenage mom. Who loved her. But just didn't know how to take care of babies yet.
So, ET had been raised by her grandmother until three months before when her grandma died of cancer. Since then she had a short stay in some shelters until her uncle came and got her. He was young. And not ready to handle a one-year-old girl. He knew she needed more.
Twelve days later, I met him in the parking lot on the Air Force Base and took her home.
IJ was in Japan...so my friend Feather stayed with me. I had no clue what I was doing.
When it was time for bed, I announced "BED TIME!" She grabbed her blanket and curled up on the couch. She had never had a bed of her own before. As I carried her to bed, I laid down beside her and began to sing.... "You are my sunshine...my only sunshine. You make me happy..."
She placed her tiny finger to my lips and said, "Hush Momma. Hush."
And with that I knew. It was the happiest moment I had ever experienced. And I knew. She was mine. And I was hers.
Our world revolved around ET. She was embraced in our family. The first grand baby. The first niece. The first love.
As the months went on, we worked on things -- her anger, fear, outbursts, temper -- but she was always loved.
We had MANY court dates and just wanted to finalize the process.
Then, the call came. The mother's rights were not terminated properly. She would have to be re-notified. And when she was, she decided she wanted ET back. It had been one year. There was nothing we could do.
The mother had to pass a few tests, and then ET would transition back to her biological mother. I was devastated. I wanted to dye her hair black and run to Mexico. I wanted to hide. I wanted to run. I wanted to cry.
Instead, we began the process and prayed. I met ET's mom for the first time at a restaurant. And I liked her. Actually, I loved her. She was me. But without the same chances is life. I was her, but with different choices. And above all else, we were the same because we loved ET. More than anything.
Months went on, she completed all terms. She was clean. She was ready to have her daughter back. It had been a year and six months since ET had come to live with us. She was my child.
Then, the court hearing came. The day we would determine when ET would go back to her mom. I remember nothing. I don't remember sleeping, eating, driving, nothing. IJ was out of town so my friend, Rachel went with me.
We walked up to the bench. And the judge began to talk. He was vested in our case. He was visibly upset.
He looked at ET's mom and asked what she wanted to say. She came to stand beside me and said,
"I want to sign all my rights over to CG and her family. That is the best place for ET. I want no contact. All I ask for is a picture."
At that moment, I have never felt so much grace and mercy as I did from her. I have never seen such a selfless and giving act. I have never met a mother who loved her child more than to do what was right - but what was so hard. She was the epitome of a giver.
I broke down. She broke down. And we embraced. How do you thank someone for bringing forth such a precious life and then GIVING it away to you?
She signed the papers and handed me a letter she had written to ET. She asked me to give it to her when I felt she was ready. I still have it.
I went home that week and started looking for pictures to send. I found the perfect one. You know, the one you make copies of for everyone in the family? The one that captures the essence of her spirit? That was the one.
I looked at IJ and he said, "Send her that one!"
"I would, but it is my only one!"
And what he said next has impacted me forever, "She is giving you her only one."
I put the pic in the mail the next day. We signed the official paperwork three months later.
And from this, I have met two of the most loving, caring, selfless woman alive.
I aspire to be like ET and her mom. I am blessed.