Forgot where we left off? Read Part 5 here.
We immediately showed Tyce our small stash of toys.
"You like balls? Here's a red one. Good throw! Okay, you're done . . . How about blocks? Can you stack these? Boom! You're the human wrecking ball. Again? No? I'll bet you're a good colorer . . . let's try these crayons."
In only 15 minutes, we'd exhausted all our resources.
And the novelty of his new environment had worn off.
And he cried.
He ran from room to room, looking for something--anything--familiar, getting more and more upset. His cries broke our hearts, and we looked at each other.
"What do we do?" I asked.
"What have we done?" Bryce asked.
No two parents--temporary or not--ever felt more inadequate. But this was no time for second-guessing our abilities. Tonight we were his mom and dad--and we needed to act like it.
Bryce picked Tyce up. "Hey little buddy, it's okay. I know you miss what you're used to. It must be confusing to see that everything is different. But you're going to be okay. Shhhh, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay . . . "
As Tyce calmed down, Bryce and I began to believe it, too. Grateful for the schedule his houseparents had prepared, we got him into pajamas, gave him a snack, and lay him in his crib. We sang songs. We had made it through one night. We were okay.
I went to work that Monday, but Bryce had winter break from school. He and Tyce spent their time at the park, at Astros games, and with my parents (Mopsie and Grandpa). His first Christmas with us was only 8 days after his arrival. It was overwhelming; back then I hadn't adopted the "three presents" mindset. The poor boy nearly drowned in gifts--dozens and dozens of new toys, clothes, and books. He was lovingly showered from every angle: his Casa friends; his new grandparents, aunts and uncles; and us, his new parents. But he got bored of opening them all and went to sit in a giant box. I think none of us will ever forget the sight of that little toddler wearing a Santa hat, sitting in his cardboard cave.
As foster parents we tried to be loving without getting too attached. If you had known little Tyce, you would know that was nearly impossible to do.
Bryce and I went to many trainings and seminars. We learned about emotional issues and legal issues. We learned everything we could in order to help us be good parents to our little guy.
As foster placements often go, his short-term stay turned into a long-term stay. On the one hand I hoped for reunification, because I would never vote against the triumph of the human spirit. I knew that his birth family loved him, despite their problems. I knew it. It was heart-wrenching for me to want something for them and for myself at the same time. I also felt that he was meant to be part of OUR family, and we hoped Tyce could be ours forever.
In November 1999, that day did come.
He was adopted. Adopted after almost 2 years in our home. Adopted and finally sharing our last name--though he'd been a Jones in our hearts for a very long time.
In September 2000, he was sealed to us, in what our friend Teresa aptly called a "spiritual adoption", in the Houston temple. Because the temple was brand new, Tyce had the honor of being the first child sealed to his parents by adoption. When an ordinance worker, an older gentleman, put out his hand to shake Tyce's, Tyce slapped him the biggest high-five that sealing room had ever seen.
But not to make our story sound so simple, we also had baby Mary then. And Pablo. And Joseph. And Juwan.
And life running a group foster home was more than crazy.
But by the grace of God, we were okay.