When Bryce and I volunteered at Casa's 1801 Wichita, in our pre-child days, we felt an instant connection with Kristina--one of the house's foster parents. She was funny, smart, warm, and she obviously loved all the kids in her care.
She especially loved baby Tyce.
In fact, she got in trouble for holding him too much.
(I think that's awesome.)
Back then, she made a one-year commitment to Casa before returning to her normal life in Minnesota, where she became a high school art teacher, married, and had two kids (and one on the way).
I wonder if she knew that her one-year commitment would have a lifetime of impact on our family?
She brought a scrapbook of her year in Houston and had tons of pictures of "her baby." And what an adorable little guy he was! We all loved poring through the photos--even the younger kids recognized what a cutie their big brother was back then. We had dinner together and got caught up on each other's lives.
Tyce, of course, doesn't remember her per se--he was only 17 months when he came to live with us--but I can imagine it feels good knowing that he was loved his entire life.
When I took Kristina back to the hotel that night, it felt like time had melted away. It was like we'd turned back the clock 12 years and were sitting on 1801's hardwood floor, picking up puzzle pieces while kids got ready for snack time, talking about her days at Notre Dame and my job at Hollywood Marine.
I love friends like that.
Add to that the fact that she dedicated herself, heart and soul, to Tyce's happiness and well-being for that critical year, and you know why she's more than just a friend to us.
She's part of our family.
Our huge, giant family that includes not only grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but our childrens' birth families, former foster siblings (many brothers and a few sisters), and former foster moms like Kristina.
We are lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.
We are lucky to have Kristina.