I could see it in her eyes. The disappointment. She didn’t say a word, but I knew what she was feeling and thinking.
Adoption was coming soon and in the midst of all the preparations, our then soon-to-be-adopted children were asked by their case manager what they wanted on their adoption day cake. Our biological daughter, who had been on this journey the entire time, desperately wanted to be asked as well.
She wanted to have a voice in the celebration and the cake decoration decision. She wanted to be a part of the story, a part of the day.
She was 9 and as much as she got it, she still struggled from time to time.
Later that evening, I pulled her to the side and I asked her how she was feeling. She simply said, “I want to be able to share the story too.” It makes sense. We often hear people talk about how the foster children are having their story rewritten with adoption. While that may be true, we cannot forget that biological children also are having their stories rewritten.
She was 4 or 5 when she began encouraging her mother and I to become foster parents. Or, as she often put it, “be a mom and dad for kids who needed it.” My career had led to her being around the foster care world her entire life. To her, taking in kids was the natural thing to do. At her young age and in her innocence she didn’t fully comprehend all the things she might or might not be giving up. She just knew we had to do it. Over the past three years we have seen her share her home, her stuff, her parents, her friends, her grandparents, her holidays, her extra-curricular activities and almost every facet of her life with four other little people who needed it. She never blinked. She has continued to be a champ through it all.
So much so that I think even we, at times, have forgotten how much her life has been changed. Yet, in our desire to heal the wounds of those we have brought into our home, we can never forget the sacrifice she made to take this journey.
I think that is why she wanted to be included in the cake decision. Because this wasn’t just about the children gaining a family, it was also about a 9-year-old girl giving her family.
She is brave. She is kind. She is pure. She is love. And she reminded me that night that this was her story too.
It was a reminder I needed more than she’ll ever know.
Keith & Staci Howard are the fearless leaders of Howard Party of 8. For their day jobs Staci is a stay-at-home mom and Keith oversees Circle of Care's foster care program throughout Oklahoma. Learn more about them on our foster bloggers bio page.