The beginning of our story with our two youngest sons was unexpected. We took them as a permanency placement (adoption!) and soon found out there was a legal hiccup that almost sent them home and ultimately started the 9 month old case over. It was (is) hard to swallow.
Regardless, over the past 7+ months their parents have continued to choose drugs over their third chance. Their second chance came at this last removal since they had been given chances before. So, with each poor choice our hearts open wider and we attach even deeper. At this point they are our boys and, if it weren't for the constant reminders they are "in the system", we wouldn't even know they were foster kids. We adore them so...even if we are getting wrinkles and gray hair.
We are a normal family of 5 without the whole not-legally-ours part. ;) So all of this to say that I was completely caught off guard by my own emotions at a recent birthday party. After an obligatory "kid pic" I was asked to grab the two little boys so a picture that was sharable on social media could be taken. You see...when you have foster kids you can't show their face. I get it. What I didn't know was how jolting this would be emotionally. I grabbed my babies and pulled them over to the parent paparazzi side and they looked so confused. It hit me. They are different. Not in our hearts. Not in our little family unit but in the world's eyes.
I'm still processing this and I'm still sad over the realization. There will be no wand waved over them at adoption time. This is just our story. My children have been through things no children ever should have. They have heard things little ears should never hear and seen things I may never be able to erase. They have a different beginning. I will fight the rest of my life for them to know family and know it as a place of refuge and not pain. Such a little thing that "postable picture" but so raw.