After a week-long trek across the United States, the day had finally arrived. It was time to get Molly settled into her new home and take our leave. We couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer!
We woke on Friday morning with the mix of emotions evident on each and every face. As we prepared for the day ahead of us I tried to keep things light and focus on the fun and adventure of this new experience, but my efforts were overshadowed by palpable anxiety and the weight of grief. As hard as this day would be for Rusty, Molly and I, it was nothing to the overwhelming feelings of loss Braden was battling.
Despite reassurances that Molly would only be gone until Christmas and then we would get her home for four months until she returned for her spring semester, he still struggled. For him, as illogical as it may seem, this was just another loss in a long line of losing people he loves. It has been his experience that once you open your heart to someone, they will leave you… either to drugs, death, prison, or by simply being pulled from your life by the very system that is there to protect and preserve. Even though this experience was nothing like the losses of his past, the emotions felt all too similar, thus triggering thoughts of previous losses that were all too final.
It was with much prayer, compassion, and tenderness that we moved into the day.
Our first stop of the day was Molly’s new home. Rather than stay in a more traditional apartment style dorm, she opted to rent a room in a cute bungalow just six minutes from campus center.
She would be sharing this charming home with eight roommates, many of whom we met as we unloaded her gear from the car.
The boys were a big help as we toted in all Molly’s clothes, books and decorations.
Molly’s room is a single. For a slightly higher monthly payment Molly opted to pay to have the room to herself. She felt this would be the best for her first semester. This way she can enjoy the comradery of shared living spaces with her eight roommates, but also would have a private space to escape to when she needs to be alone.
Her room was generously large…far bigger than it seemed in the photos…
And we soon set to work unpacking her boxes and turning her room into a home, with pictures and personal touches.
The end result was nothing short of charming!!
She has a large closet, a dresser, an elevated bed with storage below, a bookcase, and a desk area for studying.
It is so cute and homey.
Our next stop was Walmart to stock her kitchen cabinets until she gets into a routine of weekly grocery shopping. We arrived at Walmart to find every parking spot filled with new students and their families. I am not exaggerating when I say it was like Black Friday inside, with aisles filled to capacity and every register manned by a frazzled looking clerk.
We loaded up her cart with student-friendly food and made our way to the other side of the store to pick up a plastic storage tote and a footstool for climbing into bed.
Then we navigated our way to the front where an employee was guiding customers through a maze of caution tape to the next open line. I am not kidding when I say it was like Black Friday shopping!
We made it out alive and headed back to her apartment where we unloaded her groceries into her assigned kitchen cabinets…
Then we headed over to campus to take care of some student tasks.
Our first stop was to check her in at the “Get Connected” tent where she was assigned her student mentors that would guide her through the next two days of activities. Here she also received her welcome booklet that spelled out all the fun being offered over the weekend.
Then we began working our way through the “to-do” list for new freshman, including getting her student ID and picking up her preordered books from the bookstore.
Then we split ways for a few hours as she joined up with her mentoring team for some new student activities like a welcome from the university president, a campus tour, meeting with the heads of each department, etc.
While Molly was busy with the other freshman, Braden, Rusty and I grabbed lunch, perused the University Bookstore, and took advantage of a college tour. One of the primary reasons the boys accompanied Molly and I on this road trip was so they could tour the school and see if they might be interested in attending BYU-I themselves.
By the time we were done with our campus tour, Molly was done with her scheduled activities. We met up in the Student Commons to get in line for the parent/student luau.
The plan was to take our leave after a fun luau dinner with Miss Molly. It was a popular event, with the line to get in wrapping all around the commons.
When it was our turn to go through the buffet line we were blown away by the spread of delicious Hawaiian fare.
We were then seated in the ballroom to enjoy our meal,
While being entertained by Polynesian dancers who were AMAZING!!
At the end of the luau Molly walked with us back to the car to say her good-byes. I thought I was doing a superb job of holding it together until Braden started to cry, a lifetime of past losses written on his face as he had to say good-bye to another person he loves…
Not quite believing she will return home again.
Oh, how my heart ached as my kids’ faces were dampened with tears. As hard as it was to say good-bye, I couldn’t help but marvel at the great blessing evident in those tears. Those tears are evidence of loving attachment and connection between family members that were strangers just a year ago.
This is what every adoptive parent prays for, especially when adopting a child with a history of trauma and previous displacements. You open your heart and home hoping one day they will feel safe enough to open their heart to the love you offer. It is a day by day journey toward connection and attachment, and moments like this (as heartbreaking as they are) tell me we are finding some measure of success.
We took our leave, reminding ourselves that we will see Molly in a month for Gracie’s wedding, and headed back to our hotel room.
After a week’s worth of travel we were out of clean clothes, so I left the boys at the hotel to numb themselves in front of the TV, while I headed to the laundromat down the street.
I didn’t indulge in the luxury of being present in my own grief until that moment. I was far too invested in the well-being of my kids, making sure everyone was successfully navigating their own hard emotions. It wasn’t until I found myself alone that the reality of it all hit and the tears bubbled up.
For two hours I sat alone in a coin operated laundromat, finding solace in the isolation…
Finally able to reflect on the last week…
And the last 19 years that led up to this day.
This is what we raise them for.
As parents we strive to first give them roots…deep, deep roots that will hold them upright through the most turbulent and trying seasons of life.
And then we strive to give them wings…wings strong, and nimble, and capable of flight, so that when they finally take that leap, out of the protective nest we built for them, we can enjoy the breath-stealing sight of watching them soar.
Soar, Miss Molly!
Your are a magnificent sight to behold!