What if they had said yes?

I’ve wondered this hundreds of times since Kyeler came into our family. We were not the first family the social worker called about being his foster parents. Before us, she asked the family that was fostering (and has since adopted) his full sister and two half siblings. 

What if the other family had said yes to fostering Kyeler?

It is astonishing how a simple (or, perhaps, not so simple) yes or no can change the entire trajectory of someone’s life. How it can ripple like a shock wave across generations. 

This weekend we went to Kyeler’s sister’s birthday party. For the sake of privacy and brevity, I’ll call his sister M. This was our second time getting together with M, and our first time meeting Kyeler’s half siblings. I was excited as we crunched up the gravel driveway to their house, but I also had a weird fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t quite identify.

The birthday party was a lot of fun, with a Frozen theme that was slightly ironic given the 92 degree weather. We ate ribs and watermelon and cupcakes, tie-dyed shirts, pet donkeys (yes, donkeys), and played in the sprinkler. I’m sure I looked vaguely suspect the whole time, interacting with each sibling while intensely scanning their physical features for evidence of Kyeler. With M, I didn’t have to look hard. With his half siblings, the similarities were a bit more subtle, but they were there. All of Kyeler’s siblings seemed so sweet, just normal kids, and it gave me a relieved, happy feeling. 

On the drive home, I understood what had been fluttering in my stomach during the party—the fact that this was the life Kyeler would have lived if the other family said yes. And the weirdest part wasn’t that it seemed so unlikely I couldn’t possibly imagine it, but that I could. 

Kyeler would have been the youngest child, not the oldest. He would have grown up on 17 acres surrounded by siblings and animals and space to run. He would have had different parents, different family vacations, an entirely new set of life experiences and memories. I can just see him trailing happily after M, the classic little brother sidekick stirring up mischief. 

It’s not often that you get a peek into what an alternate future would have looked like, but this weekend we did. It would have been a great life for Kyeler, I think. But it wouldn’t have been our life.

It wouldn’t be the life where Kyeler wakes up giggling with CJ and goes to bed snuggling with Josh. It wouldn’t be the life where I held him for 109 days in the NICU, and every single day after that. It wouldn’t be the life where we make Wednesday trips to the farmers market and eat peaches in the blazing sun, where we whoosh down the tunnel slide together on summer mornings, where the boys shake their tambourines and make up silly songs together. It wouldn’t be the life where Kyeler calls me his mama, and I call him my son. 

I can get all in my head about providence and divine intervention and how God’s plans and our free will intersect. I don’t know the answers to any of those mysteries. I just know I’m so, so glad we said yes.

2 responses to “Yes”

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