“Look,” Jane told us in one of our first meetings, “I’ll move forward with filing the adoption requests. But your dossier will need to include a solution to the housing dilemma.”
Ah, yes. The dossier. The quintessential compilation with notarized and appostiled documents about everything in the whole freaking world. “Yeah, okay,” I replied. “We knew we would have to move to pull this off. Please go forward as fast as you can on your end. We’ll start on the housing solution.”
It was easy to say. You don’t just go out and rent a six-bedroom house big enough for twelve people. Since returning from our family vacation in Utah, my brothers and I had continued to prepare for the move back. While we had hoped for the move of the company and families to be completed that summer, delays in the construction of the new home for our company would drag out the relocation by another year. The “housing dilemma” wouldn’t wait that long for a solution.
My parents had moved into the vacation home in Utah the prior year. While it was big enough for my family and them, there were further complications. That home had been earmarked for my brother Tom and his family. He and Michelle had seven kids of their own so the vacation home wasn’t the answer. (Imagine two families with a total of seventeen kids living in the same house.) The drawings were in place for a new dream home in Utah and we already owned the property. That couldn’t happen fast enough either. The new house would take at least two years to complete.
The clock was ticking. The adoption agency was pressing us for answers. There was no easy solution.
“Do you and Amy have a minute?” My brother David and his wife Rachael were standing at the door.
“Sure. We have all night. Come in.”
Amy rounded up drinks while we sat around the unfinished antique table. Small talk commanded conversation for a few minutes. It always does. David and Rachael didn’t make the thirty-minute trip to our house for small talk though. Not when David saw me every day at work.
“How are things going with adopting the older girls?” David asked.
“Oh, it’s busy. The latest is trying to decide on what to do with getting a bigger house.”
“Yeah. Not much choice in that.”
“Michigan or Utah?”
“I can do my job from either place so it just depends on where we can find the right circumstances.”
My brother looked at his beautiful young wife. She smiled and nodded as if she was coaxing him forward. “Rachael and I want you to take our house in Utah.”
I gasped. Amy started to cry. David and Rachael had been renting. They had just completed the purchase of their first home and they were planning to move in as soon as we relocated the company. Like any couple and their first home, my brother and sister-in-law had been excited. They traveled to Utah and surveyed the place bringing back pictures and describing plans of remodeling to make the house their home. My family taking someone else’s residence and imposing on the dream of a “first home” wasn’t fair. Even though I was overwhelmed with their generosity I didn’t want their offer to be the answer. There had to be a better solution.
“Absolutely not. That’s your first house. It’s your house. We’ll figure something out. We always do.”
“Yes,” Amy added. “We were so happy for you to get your first home. You need to take it.”
“So you’re going to rent a house with six bedrooms,” David replied.
“I don’t know.”
“The land of make-believe?”
“Hey! You don’t talk like that! I do.”
“Come on, John. You’re always the practical one. This is a practical decision. Do what you do.”
I looked at Rachael. She beamed like Amy and I had just unwrapped a million-dollar Christmas present that she had been able to give us. “I don’t know what to say, Rachael,” I softly replied.
“We want these girls to have a chance. We want you to get them home as fast as you can. Our family is still small. It’s easy for us to rent. If this is something we can do to help these girls get a family we want to do it.”
Amy broke down. Only a person who has watched her family fall apart; someone who had been illegally kept in juvenile detention—as a short-term solution until foster care could be found—would understand the security offered by Rachael and David. Watching what my brother and sister-in-law did for my wife meant even more to me than help with the adoption. I wrapped my arms around my little brother and wept like a child.
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