Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Almost Future

Right after my husband moved to the US and a few months before our wedding, my nephew celebrated his first birthday. During his party, I was standing at the patio door when I felt small hands clasp my leg.

I looked down and staring up at me, arms extended and asking for a lift, was a little girl about 18 months old. I scanned the room and looked back at her. She stared at me, arms still wavering in the air. So I picked her up and said, "does this belong to someone," to no one in particular.

Turned out the little girl didn't really belong to anyone, but was being informally fostered by a family member on behalf of a mother incarcerated and with a history of drug problems. Her foster carerer was actively shopping for a forever home.

The little girl, let's call her A, spent the party moving from grown-up to grow-up - especially the women - grabbing hold and reluctantly letting go only when necessary. This kid was looking for a mommy and dammit wasn't going to give up easily.

My wheels turned right away. Sure, the wedding wasn't for a few months and sure, we hadn't really seriously committed to kids, let alone to how many or where from. But here was a small person who needed a home. Would it be crazy to go to the beach for a weekend and come home with a child? Okay, a little. But not, like, SO much, right?

My husband - always the wiser and more deliberative member of the team - said, uh, no, we cannot take a child home with us.

Baby A found her home - a wonderful one with parents and siblings where she is loved and thriving. But I will never shake that image of those little upstretched arms and her grouping us together, holding on, wishing hard.

If I could only rearrange time, move that moment to my nephew's 5th or 6th birthday party, I'm sure I'd have taken her home. I'd have gladly been her mommy. But I can't do that. So instead, I'm just happy she has a home and that she didn't wait too long to get it. And I have this photo - a picture of an almost future, a picture of a will-be future now, featuring a different little girl.

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