What do you get when you take four brothers and add a foster baby?
Several years ago my husband and I made a choice to open our homes and our hearts to a foster child. While our kids had a chance to share their opinions, they really didn’t have a choice. They never got the chance to say, as so many people do, “I could never do that!” They never even got nine months to get used to the idea of a baby. One afternoon in August our four boys got a baby sister, a sister who might stay for a few weeks or for a lifetime. At the time our boys, ages 13, 12, 10 and 8, were forced to decide what to do with their hearts.
As you might imagine, all four boys responded in their unique way. When I had my biological children, it was impossible for me to imagine their personalities ahead of time. It blows my mind that while these four children all share the DNA of the same two parents, their hearts and minds vary vastly. These differences were apparent in how each of our kids bonded with baby.
Our eldest child is responsible and level-headed. Slightly cautious in new situations, he wisely observes before fully engaging. Once engaged, he leads. He is relaxed and fun. When baby arrived, Child One watched. He greeted the baby and occasionally touched her foot. But it took two full weeks before I saw Child One play with the baby. Child One quickly became baby’s favorite peek-a-boo partner.
Child Two is a scientist. He loves to learn. Armed with curiosity and a lot less caution, Child Two was quick to engage baby. He may have been the first child to hold her. Six months later, he was the one most frequently asked to feed baby. I often walked into the living room to see him quietly amusing baby girl or later when she was a toddler he’d be walking around with her on his hip letting her boss him around.
Child Three plays his third-born part perfectly. Full of affection and emotion, my then 10-year-old could not stop doting on, playing with, talking to or touching the baby. With Child Three there is no reserve. He gave his whole heart the moment he saw the baby. Making her smile was one of his greatest joys. I’m pretty sure he would have rather played with baby than play video games—and that is saying something.
Our youngest paid the highest price in welcoming this baby girl. Child Four gave up his spot as the youngest in the family.
One day early on I picked up the baby and said to her, “Come here, Cuteness.”
Child Four’s eyes flashed betrayal. “Mommy, you used to call me that.” With a pouting lip, he turned away.
I can’t remember how long it to took, but baby girl won Child Four’s heart as well. Eventually I could regularly hear his sing-songy voice cooing, “Hi, baby girrrrrrl.” In fact, Child Four absolutely adores his baby sister. He was often right beside Child Three trying to make her smile.
Now when I think about how each of my kids worked through this giant change in our home, I think my kids are amazing. In their own time and in their own way, each of our kids chose to love this baby girl. That makes them heroes to me.
So, what do you get when you take four brothers and add a foster baby?
You get an adventure. You get a mess, some tears and joy. You get blessed. And, apparently, you get heroes.