Day finally dawned, and there was so much to do. Beds had to be prepared, dresser drawers emptied and rearranged, and some easy meals planned to get through our first few days with our new children. Each moment that passed, I became more aware that at any moment the phone would ring and tell us when and where to pick up the children. However, by the time lunch time rolled around, we had heard nothing so we decided to call and check on things. We found out they were waiting on an exception to be granted to us because we were licensed for two children, and we were getting three. Since this was our first foster care placement, they were a little hesitant to grant the exception. All we could do was pray and trust God that if this was to be He would help get the exception granted.
Finally about 4:00 in the afternoon the phone rang and asked us to go to Augusta and meet the current foster parents at McDonald's to pick up the children. We quickly took Ryan, Kayt, Alex and Cory over to Aunt Jenni's and headed down the highway. The hour and fifteen minute drive seemed long, but at last we pulled in the parking lot at McDonald's. We parked beside a blue minivan that looked to be the right one. The lady in the driver's seat confirmed that she was the one we were to get the children from. I vividly remember going around to the side of the van. The back door slid open to reveal a young smiling toothless grin on a generously freckled face. As he scampered out, he told us he was T. J. Michael climbed out after him. He had a sweet but somewhat shy smile. He was a little more hesitant to look directly at us. Then a little blond haired three year old girl with shoulder length hair and vivid blue eyes reached her arms out to me so I could lift her out of the van. I about lost it. She was my "Angel Girl." There was no doubt in my mind. I always knew I would recognize her if I saw her. At last she was coming home.
We went into McDonald's to use the restroom and order Happy Meals for the children. I took little Amber into the restroom. She was extremely independent and self-sufficient for a three year old. She was not shy and talked freely although it was difficult to understand her. As I lifted her to the sink to wash her hands, I was somewhat surprised when she called me "Mama". We hadn't discussed what the kids would call us.
Sitting down at the tables to eat the Happy Meals, T.J. kept the conversation going. He wanted to know our names and what to call us. We told him our names and asked what he wanted to call us. Right away he settled on "Mom" and "Dad". T.J. talked for both Michael and Amber, although they weren't shy about answering questions we asked them. We learned Michael went by "Mikey". We learned there wasn't anything T.J. couldn't do, and that he could tell some pretty big stories. Amidst all the talking T.J. somehow snarfed down the whole Happy Meal in minutes. Mikey was slow and steady with his eating being determined to eat every last bite. Amber ate about half of hers, and T.J. finished it off.
We loaded into the van and headed for home. T.J. kept us involved in conversation and games the whole way home. Mikey quietly played with a little car we had given him. Amber became fussy about half way home and cried for a little while. I tried to distract her, but she kept her head down and just peeked at me through stringy hair hanging over her teary eyes.
When we at last pulled in our drive, all three were eager to get out and play. I stayed outside with them while Les headed over to Jenni's to get the other four children. T.J. was determined he could ride every bike we owned and even somehow got on the 10 speed and rode a short distance before falling off. I could tell this child had little fear. Mikey was just as determined, and it surprised me that at just age five he could also ride a bike. I was busy keeping Amber from being ran over by them.
Les was back quickly and the children all met each other. Cory was the only one who especially seemed to hold back and not say much. Ryan, Kayt, and Alex were eager and glad to show T.J., Mikey, and Amber around the house. We unloaded the pitifully few belongings that came with the children and set about preparing for our first night. It took some time to get baths and tuck each one in. Mikey and Troy were both openly affectionate, giving us hugs, and eagerly saying prayers with us.
What I remember most though that first night was putting Amber our little Angel Girl to bed. We prayed, and then she didn't seem to want me to leave. I knelt by her bed and rubbed her back and sang "Jesus Loves Me". I felt her little body begin to relax. After about 3o minutes, she fell asleep. I hadn't been out of the room long and I heard her crying out for "Mama." I hurried to her bedside. Once again I sang "Jesus Loves Me" over and over. She went back to sleep, but we repeated this several times until midnight. At last she seemed to fall into a deeper sleep, but even then throughout the night I heard her crying in her sleep. I went to her, but she was asleep and there was nothing I could do to help her with the sadness that was invading even her sleep. God had brought our precious girl home. Now He could begin to heal her wounds.