It is nearly 10:00 am on a Monday morning, the time we were told she would arrive. Although we don’t know it yet, this moment will forever change our lives. Suddenly, a car appears in front of the house. A young woman emerges from the driver’s seat and quickly opens the rear door of the car.
Although this action is executed in seconds, it feels as though time is standing still. My mind races with questions. Should I run out and help her? Should I just sit here? What is appropriate? I don’t know how to act.
“She’s here,” I tell my husband as I watch the young woman start toward the door, bundle in hand, through the picture window in our living room. My husband and I rush out to meet her.
We crowd around the social worker and the tiny blonde baby she holds. “This is Bella”, she says. I reach for Bella and hold her close. I pull my husband in tight for our first family photo.
I immediately regret not taking my eleven-year-old daughter Abigail out of school to share this moment. I must admit that I didn’t realize what a big deal it would be to me. Later when I look at that picture, I will see two very happy adults and one small confused seven-month old.
Bella is mine instantly, although she’s not supposed to be. We have been given our instructions and signed paperwork stating that we understand our role and our place in Bella’s life. We are not to be her parents but rather to love her like parents, care for her as if she were our own, and then hand her back to the mother who cannot currently care for her, at some undisclosed date in the future.
We are temporary placeholders in Bella’s life. The goal is to reunite a family, not create a new one.
Bella will return to her mother when it is safe and we will not be the ones to make that decision. We must collect pictures and write stories for her, so that later, when she is reunited with her mother, she will have a record of this time in her life. So that she will feel complete knowing all of her history.