Any reservations I had about my friends' new foster (soon to be adopted) daughter have been unwarranted, and I couldn't be happier. She's a super cool kid and is fitting in with the family like she's always been there. We've been traveling with this couple for years, and while her presence certainly changed the dynamic on our recent trip, she really did feel part of the family. It was really cool.
She's also become attached to me, which was unexpected. She wants to hang out and spend time together, and she wants to include me in her "girl time" with her new mom. It's been fun hanging out with her and I really look forward to spending more time with her as time passes.
It's still strange, though, realizing that this isn't temporary. Their lives are forever altered now that they're parents. Our vacation sort of made me sad, because neither of her parents wanted to come do the nightlife stuff we've done together for years. They spent their time at the hotel pool instead of at the events we've always gone to together, and they skipped dinner out because she wanted PB&J in the room. Their priorities have changed, as they should, but I'm quickly becoming the childfree friend who doesn't get it, I guess.
And it's hard to see them as parents, to know that they're a family of three now. They want us in her life and we want to remain in her life, but it's changing the dynamic of our friendship in a very different way than friends who have a baby change. It's not bad, it's just… different. When friends have a baby there's an adjustment period. You don't have to watch your language, or make different food choices when they're over for dinner. You don't have to include her in the conversation so she doesn't feel left out. At 11, she's a whole person with feelings.
At the same time, I'm glad she's here. I'm glad they're giving her a chance and I think they're going to be a really happy family. I imagine it'll take some time for her to feel truly at home, to call them mom and dad (although she dubbed my husband, me, and our other traveling companions aunts and uncles, which was cool). Spending almost a week sharing a hotel suite with her and her family was badass. But I think she's happy, and that's really awesome.
It still doesn't seem permanent, though, and that makes me uncomfortable. I'm sure it's because of the nature of adopting an 11-year-old, the fact that she comes with this robust history full of things we can't even imagine, and she's now being asked to be a part of this family. We're a part of that extended family. We're excited to have her in our lives, and as strange as it is, I'm looking forward to getting used to having her around.