Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Starting Over.

Well, I’m back.
EDIT: There was stuff here about my new blog, but I switched back to this one because it was a mistake to leave Blogger and I'm sorry and I'll never do it again. 
The answer is simple, my friends. I’m a father.
A little over a year ago, The Missus and I started a journey with the end goal of adopting a couple of children so that my wife could have more people to love than just me. I went along with it because, hey, I like to mold minds. So we sat down in a silly class for six weeks, then we had our house inspected to make sure we wouldn’t electrocute anyone, then we had our lives so thoroughly investigated that at one point I’m positive Barbara Walters did an interview, and THEN we had to get to the fun part. Picking out the children.
As I said on my older blog (which has been deleted, because I don’t want my children coming across pictures of me topless on the Internet) picking the children was the absolute worst experience of our lives. Imagine someone setting up a bunch of kids in front of you, and you having to say things like, “Well, we really don’t want one with six fingers or a predilection for starting fires on pets.” Or, “Yeah, we’ll take one with attachment issues but they have to have all their organs intact.” In short, it was very painful, and something I hope no one else on this earth ever has to go through.
But.
About seven months ago, we both were sat down in a small room with about one hundred case files of children needing to be adopted in the state of Oklahoma that mostly met our guidelines. A lot of them were simply too old for us to consider. I had imposed that I would not adopt a child older than five. My wife and I were in different rooms in different counties, and we both came across two names. Aven and Akeeli, a brother and sister from southern Oklahoma. She was five, he was three. They were gorgeous blonde-haired children who were smiling brightly in their photographs. When we got together afterwards, we both knew these were the children we wanted to look into.
The details were arranged, and before we knew it, we were driving to Oklahoma City with our case manager to meet the kids. We went to a Chuckie Cheese, and as we pulled into the parking lot, I had no idea what to expect. I can tell you this though, NEITHER of us were prepared for what happened.
Akeeli ran out of the van that she was in, jumped off of the ground into my wife’s arms and shouted “MOMMY!”
Folks, I’m here to tell you, I kept it together while we were there, but I’m on the verge of tears as I remember that. If we had any doubts, if we had any fears, they were gone in that moment. They simply evaporated, not able to stand up to the love a child who just needed someone to call “mommy.”
Aven was a bit more standoffish, but he still walked up to me and grabbed my hand, excited to be at Chuckie Cheese, ready to play. And play they did. Those kids wore us out that first visit. They also won our hearts. By the end of the day, both of the kids were calling use Mommy and Daddy, and it was the most natural thing in the world for us to hear it. This, quite simply, had been ordained in the heavens, God’s plan set in motion before the existence of the world. If you choose not to believe that, then it was fate, predestined for eternity, since the Big Bang and all that gooey stuff started making our DNA.
There was a tiny hiccup in the plan though, one that darkened our minds for about a week after that first visit. You see, there was another family that was interested in adopting Akeeli and Aven. A family that had fallen in love with them down in their hometown. The case manager for the kids mentioned this but didn’t dwell on it, which gave us grave concern after having such a positive visit.
We’ve since met that family, and yesterday at the finalization, that family drove six hours round trip to be with us and the kids on our special day. They are an amazing group of people, and the love they show our kids is astounding. I firmly believe that Akeeli and Aven had winners in EVERY corner of their adoption process, and had this other family adopted them, they would have had an equally incredible life as they will with us.
But as the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, the state chose us to be their parents.
We got the phone call that we were approved for the second visit, and that the final visit, an overnight, would be done in our home, where if all went well, the kids would be put in adoptive placement, the final stage before the adoption is finalized. This all took place at the end of May, and so we drove down south, picked them up, brought everything they owned with us, and brought them…home.
The last six months have been an absolute whirlwind of emotions, draining every last bit of strength from my wife and I, and probably the kids as well. We have emptied our hearts, our bank account, and our surprisingly short reserves of patience into these kids, and without realizing it immediately, have been paid back dividends beyond our wildest dreams. We have been blessed beyond measure, and I am prepared to spend the rest of my life thanking God for what he has done for our little family.
And so I’ve been on hiatus, staying away from the blog, devoting time to the kids, and in general trying not to post anything on the Internet that would make people question the morals of the state in trusting me with the lives of two people barely old enough to spell. It’s been a whole lot easier than I thought it would be, and even now, at the end of this first blog, it’s strange to be back “online.” There are so many other experiences that we’ve had in the last six months, but right now I’m at a thousand words and you’re probably getting bored. However, I have to close with the best news yet.
Yesterday, at around twelve noon CST, we stood in a courtroom that had been packed out by family and friends, in front of a judge who smiled at us, asked us if we were ready to accept responsibility for Aven and Akeeli, and when we said yes sir, said: “I pronounce this adoption final.”
Names will be changed, birth records will be altered, new Social Security cards will come out. These children now bear the surname Sloat, something that my father told me was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me. We have a family. We have children. We have a journey.
In closing, I want to thank ALL of you who followed this crazy path with us from beginning to new beginning. Thank you for your prayers, your kind words, your shoulders, and your support. Without you all, I would have folded a long time ago, and simply ran into the woods naked, yelling things about tractor beams and blueberry pies, never to have been seen again except in the occasional “DeerCam” photo.
And here you are, after six months of waiting. Their first picture on a blog. At least it dang well better be.
"If a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, then OUR children are on mile number 1001."