Some adoptive families call it “Gotcha Day”. Others call it “Arrival Day”. In some homes it is known as “Family Day”. For our family today is “the day” and we are still trying to come up with a name for it. We refer to it as “the day you came into our lives” and we have photos that capture the moment. We know it doesn’t really matter what we call it because we all understand its significance and my youngest child knows this part of her story by heart.
Eleven years ago today I didn’t give birth but I remember it as clearly as I do laboring and birthing my first two children. Like those first two birthing experiences, the day stands out with a clarity that defies the passing of time.
On May 11, 1999, I went to work, totally unaware that my life was about to change. It was a beautiful sunny morning, a little bit warmer than today. I dropped my 12 year old daughter off at school and said, “Have a great day!” Then I drove to my Brookline Village toy store, No Kidding!, a place that was known for celebrating the magic of childhood, family and community.
It was the day before my birthday. I was in a really good mood. After saying hello to all of my colleagues and walking through the store to see what areas needed to be replenished, I went downstairs to the basement to begin collecting toys, dolls, dress up clothes and stuffed animals – one of my favorite tasks.
While I was downstairs plucking goodies off of shelves and imagining re-designs upstairs I heard the phone ring. Someone upstairs picked up the phone and I continued pondering the possibilities. A few moments later she came downstairs to tell me that there was someone on the phone who wanted to speak to me.
When I picked up the phone from the child sized table next to the fax machine and heard the voice of the lovely social worker who had taught our MAPP training class and done our family’s home study so that we could become a foster family, it didn’t dawn on me that she would be placing anyone in our home. We had just completed the course the night before. I thought she might be following up with some forgotten detail from the class.
Instead she told me that two little sisters had just come onto her case load and she wondered if we would open our home to them. Standing in the basement of No Kidding! I felt tears spring to my eyes. I wiped them away and told her I would call my husband and get right back to her. We said a resounding YES! The rest is history. The girls and their peers in foster care inspired me to sell my stores and head out into the world to collaborate with other innovators to inspire a re-envisioning of foster care in America.
When the girls were little I used to take them to say goodnight to the horses at a nearby stable. The three of us would go from stall to stall wishing the horses a good night. Before we got back into the car we would say, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…. Then I would wish them each a wonderful life. All was quiet and peaceful in the barn. All was well with us. The girls would fall asleep in their car seats and I would scoop them up and place them in their beds when we got home.
Over the years our lives have changed but our love of horses and barns remain. So does my wish that the girls and all young Americans have a wonderful life. I also wish them all the opportunity to experience caring connections. Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of our first meeting, I look forward to telling The Story of the Phone Call and celebrating those connections which have enriched my life in so many ways…