Last weekend we celebrated the children's baptisms. The best present of all came from the social worker, who said FIA had finally gotten their collective acts together and processed the paperwork we needed for our court date. We should have it in about four weeks.
We have deliberately kept the children uninformed about the delays and aggravation that we have experienced in this process, not wanting them to worry or feel insecure in their relationship with us. Instead we made the date of their baptisms the day that we celebrated the adoption. They seem to understand on some basic level that things have been settled.
No sooner had Father Dave finished pouring water on Christopher's head, he threw his head back (sprinkling everyone behind him in the process) and crowed, "I'm BAPTISED now!" His face positively lit up... and a few days later I heard him tell a classmate, "I got baptized, and now I don't get bad dreams anymore -- they all got washed away!"
I held Sarah in my arms when it was her turn for the water. I had practiced sprinking her for several weeks, so she got used to it. I could hear some family members (who shall remain nameless) laying odds as to whether she was going to burst into tears. Indeed, the storm clouds seem to gether in a little knot on her forehead when the first drops hit. But I held her closer and looked into her chocolate-brown eyes and whispered, "Sarah, today is your baptism day, your birthday in God's family, and in ours!" The clouds dissipated immediately, and her face broke into a cherubic smile.
I wish I could say their behavior changed drastically after the rite was completed, that somehow the moodiness and streaking stopped on the spot. But I still have to chase Sarah around the house to get her reclothed several times a day, and Christopher still has unexpected bouts of anger and sadness that not even a long cuddle session with Mom and a popsicle will fix instantly. But they are growing up quickly, and I've decided to entrust the process to God, and do what I can to help them make good choices every day, until they become habit.
Dear birth parents, this weekend you were often on my mind. I remember (painfully) the day one of the social workers came out of the family visiting area to find twelve-month-old Sarah playing on my lap. "I can't believe that woman had that fourth baby after all she had to deal with with the first three."
Instinctively I pulled Sarah a little closer and covered her head with her lovey, trying to keep the harsh message out. "If not for this fourth baby," I retorted, "her older siblings might not have a home today." It was true... when the antics and misbehaviors of her two older siblings got to me, it was only the prospect of losing Sarah that helped me gut it out. And so I am grateful to you, birth parents, for having the courage to give our children the best gift of all: life.