Justin that is. Our little man, my 9 year old son. What a story he has, much more than many of us have dealt with in our lives so far. He was born to my half-brother and his wife. A bundle of joy and miracle baby at that. His first months required much care due to the methadone detox he experienced. My mom bore the weight at first but I was all in when I graduated from college and moved home. His safety was our first concern and bringing stability to his little life became a priority. At one point it seemed that they had gotten into a good place and this is when I decided to move to California with The Don (my boyfriend at the time). That good place didn't last for long and Justin had to be removed. I remember getting the call in California from family services, I was a blood relative so I was contacted first, could I take him? I was frantic trying to figure out how I would make this work... how would I tell Don. But my mom began a search through my brother's father's side and found a couple that was looking to adopt a little boy. They had a home and a family, it seemed that fate had stepped in which meant I needed to step out. I couldn't offer him what this family could and I had to do what was best for him.
Almost two years passed. Don and I moved back to Ohio and were working in advertising, we got engaged and then married. One week later the call came again. The family had decided not to adopt Justin and he would be going into foster care unless I was able to take him. Able-was I, were we? We were 26 and 1-week newlyweds. Don had never even held a baby, would he be in? We were living on entry-level advertising pay, could we afford it? But in my soul it was a no- brainer. I was able to love this little boy and that's what mattered most, we would figure out the rest. That's one thing Don and I are really good at-just figuring it out and making things work. We are a good team and that had to be a good starting point to be parents. So as the cliche goes, fate had worked in mysterious ways. I didn't understand how they could decide not to adopt after almost two years but after reflection I know why-they weren't his forever family, we were but we needed to make things happen before he was supposed to come to us. We needed to get back to Ohio-which we did and we needed to get married-which we did, then we would be were we needed to be to start our little family...and so we did. We had three months to prepare, move into a bigger place, find daycare, get things situated for our little man to join us and on January 6th 2006 he made us a family of three.
Justin was little, even though he was almost 5 he still wore 2T's-sometimes 24 mos. His speech was difficult, he didn't know his ABC's and was obviously a bit behind. Don and I went in with a loose plan-the best we could do with little time and no experience: structure, dinner at the table, discipline and lots of hugs. I was able to take off 3 weeks for the transition and Justin learned his ABC's in the first week. We just sang them everyday and pointed at the ABC magnets I had bought. Our city offered a fabulous speech program and we started him in that immediately. We introduced ourselves as Daddy Don and Mommy Nici and would just let him drop our names when he was ready, I think it took a month or two. He adjusted beautifully, we were very lucky. He did test and we stuck to our guns, there were rules and we would all follow them. It was tough, knowing what he had been through but it was necesary to keep stability in our home. The adoption was finalized in April of 2007 and his forever family was legally final. And that's how we explain it to him, he wasn't safe with his biological parents so he had a foster family to give the hugs while god found his forever family. And here we are.
So Justin is now 9 years old and now the Big Brother. He has officially been with us longer than he wasn't. People say he looks like Don, which always makes me smile. We are open about his adoption and honest about his parents (in 9 year old terms) but Don and I are Mommy and Daddy and this is our family. With adoption and especially the foster system, people talk alot about roots and blood, I think your roots are where you're planted and blood is something our body needs. Justin is just as much my son as Piper is my daughter and that is that.