Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Meeting Annalyn

It didn't take long for Friday, August 11 to come. It should have seemed like forever (like every pregnancy or adoption), but remember I only knew about Annalyn for a short time (not nine months). Not much time to sit and long for her to come, but rather just enough time to "nest" like crazy. That is one thing I will never figure out, a woman's need to nest. Well maybe we can discuss it some other time, but let's not forget that our new daughter was going to arrive around noon today! I think I even dreamed about her last night and what it would be like to gently caress her head as I kissed her goodnight for the very first time.

The girls were especially excited about their new sister and passed the time by making Annalyn a welcome sign that they hung up in their bedroom. Julia and Anna even wrote her a letter. Around 10:45 am. Annalyn's parents called to tell us they were about 10 minutes out.

The whole situation seemed so surreal, as I never expected for this to actually be happening. Things were too perfect. We liked each other (by what we knew from phone conversations), we both lived in Ca, we matched the type of family that Annalyn wanted and needed, and there were no disagreements about finances, paperwork, or whether or not they would keep in touch.
So, what if she didn't like us? What if she did, but the parents didn't? What would she call us? Who would she treat as her parents? "How long would the parents be staying? Should I invite them to dinner? What if they wanted to keep Annalyn one more night? Instead of driving myself crazy thinking about these things, I reminded myself that everything was going so smooth, because it was part of God's perfect plan for Annalyn to join our family. That was that and before I knew it, I heard John and the kids screaming, "They're here!"

We all went out to greet Annalyn and her parents. Annalyn looked at both John and me, said "Hi," then quickly ran off with the girls to see her new house. I had but only a moment to see her, but I knew she was beautiful and I knew we would spend more time together later. We invited the parents in and offered to show them around our house. They were pleasant enough, but the moment was awkward to say the least. We told them about our house, how it was run, and what each of Annalyn's new siblings were like. All the while I looked for some sign from them that they approved of us and it finally came when they asked if we wanted to go over the paperwork.

We sat and discussed everything, but I really can't remember the details. I wanted to go up and spend time with Annalyn and the kids but wasn't sure how to convey my feelings. So instead, I asked about Annalyn's likes and dislikes and took mental notes of all the little details they gave about her. After about ten minutes, the parents finally said they had to go to the lawyer's office to get some documents signed. Given the whole situation, and the feelings of all of us, I was kind of relieved when they said it was time for them to go. Not that I didn't find them nice and pleasant, but just because them going was the best thing for Annalyn at the moment and we all knew it.

Later they would be coming back to drop off the documents and say their final goodbye to Annalyn.

I joined Annalyn and the girls upstairs to see what they were doing. Julia, Anna, and Sveta were showing Annalyn the new swimsuit I had bought her. I sat down next to Annalyn and reached over to give her a big hug. "Welcome to the family." I didn't want to overload her too much, so I decided to keep things pretty light. "Do you have any questions?" I asked her. She asked where her bed was, and I showed her the new bunk bed I had just bought. John was in the garage gathering the tools needed to put it together. Annalyn was very excited but like any new situation, she seemed a little unsure.

I sat down on one of the beds in the room and proceeded to ask Annalyn a little about herself. I also offered some tidbits of info about myself. "Annalyn, I want you to know that you are home now. This is where you are going to grow up, and whether you like it or not, this is your family forever. I know you don't love us yet, and you may never love us, but still your stuck with us. You got that?" I got her to nod her head. After laying this simple foundation which I believe is in simple enough English for a child to understand, I finally asked all of the kids if they wanted to go swimming over at Grandma and Grandpa's house. All I heard was screaming after that, so I went downstairs to put on my own swimsuit.

Grandpa arrived shortly before we left and offered to take the kids over now (they live four minutes away) so I could put a roast in the oven for dinner that night. I was hesitant to say yes, since I wasn't sure about Annalyn's ability to swim (she said she can, but I hadn't witnessed it yet) but he told me he could handle it. So he left with the four girls and William while I quickly put the roast on. John, Adam, and Caleb were staying behind to put together the bunk bed and take the roast out when it was done.

I hurried as quickly as I could, being I was so excited to get over to my in-laws to swim with the kids....especially Annalyn. To be able to hold, touch, and play with her in the water would be like the first time I held each of my children when they were born. Sure I would have liked to have more of a one on one moment with just her, but things do not always work out as we plan, and at this point I was just happy to be with her. When I finally arrived about 15 minutes later, I was greeted with the news that Annalyn could not swim.

Now let me clarify that she is all right, but that when Grandpa asked her if she could swim or not, Annalyn said that yes she could. Still he stood right next to the pool (like any good grandpa would) when she got in - just in case. Just in case he had to jump in to save her, clothes, keys, wallet and all. But why would he have to do that because after all she did say she could swim, right?

Well, no sooner than when her foot left the last step, did she go under the water, and Grandpa found himself jumping in after her, clothes, keys, wallet and all! He pulled her up instantly, and Annalyn was fine (in fact she did not seem phased at all), but I'm pretty sure Grandpa was a little perturbed. Yet my wonderful, awesome father-in-law (from this point on referred to as Dad) chalked it up to a difference in definition for the word swim. After all, what does one do in one of those small baby pools you buy at Walmart for $4.44? Wade, splash, sit, or swim? I think we'd all agree the word is definitely SWIM.

But all in all, we all felt that this "little mishap" bonded Grandpa and Annalyn instantly. For her to know that Grandpa was right there to save her and he did, I believe showed her how much she could already depend on him and her whole (new) family for that matter.

After things settled down, and the excitement of retelling the story wore off, I changed into my bathing suit to swim with the kids. "Are you going to swim too?" Annalyn asked as I stepped into the pool. "Of course, silly girl," I answered as I pulled her towards me to bounce around in the water. All the kids started to hang on me, and Annalyn was too busy playing with her siblings, so even my fantasy of twirling her around in the water while we hugged would have to wait. I instead settled for pulling her and Jonny all around the pool as they held on to the back of my bathing suit strap.

After swimming for about 2 hours, I announced that we had to go home. Out in the front of the house as we were getting into the van I asked Annalyn if she wanted to sit in the front seat. She quickly answered yes and played with the window button on the way home until I asked her to stop. She then told me, just as we were driving up to our house and saw her previous parents getting out of their car, that she had never sat in the front seat before. Talk about my feelings of awkwardness as they watched their, I mean our daughter get out of the car. Thankfully, nothing was mentioned as we all went into the house.

The kids disappeared upstairs as John and I sat down with the previous parents to discuss things one last time. After we reassured each other once again that this is what each of us wanted, they got up to leave and to say goodbye to Annalyn, one last time. It was hard for all of us not to cry at the moment, but my instinct was to comfort Annalyn. John walked her previous parents out as I gently rubbed Annalyn's back and told her it was okay to be sad.
And so life with Annalyn Christine Reed has begun.

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