I woke up this morning to a stage whisper. “Pssst, mom! Do I look older?” I open my eyes and my son is inches away blinking those big blue eyes that he didn’t get from me. I play along.
Today’s his birthday. I pretend not to recognize him as he’s grown so much overnight. We giggle and walk into the kitchen. Dad’s making breakfast while Mr K measures himself against the height chart. I read him a birthday message from his birth mom. It puts another smile on his face. We continue on reading messages from friends and family. He tugs on his birthday balloons as we head into the living room. They were brought last night by our babysitter, who is more like family and whom he considers a big sister.
He finally opens the packages he’s been eyeing. “She always knows what I like!” he exclaims as he opens a present from his biological great grandmother. She lives out of state yet never misses a birthday for the kids in my home, biologically related to her or not. We finish getting ready and he hops onto School zoom where his class sings Happy Birthday.
After school, we grab snow clothes and head out. We’re going to my other sons’ sisters’ house. They have snow and it’s become a tradition to have a snow day whenever they get snow. We spend the day with this family, who we love and treasure, who were strangers just three years earlier.
We head home exhausted while Mr K chats in the back seat with his brother and sister about their families. They think it’s impressive, the combined number of parents, siblings and grandparents they have. Because that’s what happens when you foster. Children do not ask to be in foster care. They do not ask to be adopted. When we sign up for this we must also be willing to expand our hearts and families.
We become the holders of these relationships. We must strive to nurture and protect these ties until our children are old enough to take the reins. As we celebrate this amazing human today I am so thankful for his birth parents, for those beautiful blue eyes and every other amazing trait they gave him. I am thankful for our family and friends, who welcome him with love and openness.
And I hope that we are able to continue holding these relationships for him and that he knows in the end we are all here for him. Because he’s so worth it.