Late one evening, a few days before Winterfest, after Kiki has gone to sleep, the social worker calls. It’s a go–the adoption is approved. There are still a few formalities left–the appearance before the judge and the receipt of the final paperwork, but those are mere procedures. It’s been approved, and Kiki’s no longer a foster child; she’s adopted.
Case and Ira are so excited they can barely sleep, and they arise early before dawn.
“I can’t wait to tell her,” Case says, looking to see if she’s stirring yet. She is such a sound sleeper.
“Let’s make a celebration out of it,” Ira says. “Let’s cook a fancy breakfast and all eat together and tell her then!”
They make pancakes and scrambled eggs and fruit salad with cranberries, oranges, dates, raisins, and Ceylon cinnamon. They make coffee and tea and hot chocolate, and when the sun comes up, but Kiki lingers in bed, Case can stand it no longer, and he pulls out the cowbell they use to announce suppertime, and he rings it so hard the windows shimmy.
“Breakfast!” he calls. “Sunshine! Celebration! Hurry! Fun-time! Breakfast!”
Ira busies herself at the counter, swallowing giggles.
But when they all sit down to eat, no one says anything right away. Ira has decided to leave it to Case to announce, and Case isn’t sure how to start. In his excitement, he forgot to script this one.
He closes his eyes and just dives in.
“So she called last night and it’s going through!”
“These are good pancakes,” Kiki says.
“Do you know what Case is talking about?” Ira asks.
“I was eating,” Kiki says, “not listening. It sounded like grown-up talk.”
Case tries again. “What I mean by ‘she called last night,’ is that the social worker called, and what I mean by ‘it’s going through’ is that the adoption. The adoption has been approved.”
“For real?” Kiki asks.
“For real. We still gotta see the judge and get the papers, but it’s a real thing! You’re adopted! You’re out of foster care, and now, we’re a for-real family!”
Kiki doesn’t say anything. With the quietest of smiles, she spreads the fruit salad on the pancake and eats it.
“We were so excited we could hardly sleep,” Ira says.
“It’s what we’ve been wanting forever. It’s what I wanted even before I met you, when I just knew about you. When I brought you home on the bus that day, I hoped then, more than anything, that I could adopt you. I couldn’t think of a greater honor,” Case says, while he thought, or responsibility.
“Are you and Ira my mom and dad now?” Kiki asks.
“We could be, if you wanted. Technically, I’m your legal guardian, and Ira will be your godmother, which means if anything happens to me, she’s your guardian.”
“Like fairy godmother?” Kiki asks.
“Exactly,” says Ira, “only without the fairy part and the wish-granting part. No mice pulling pumpkins and spider webs turning into ball gowns or any of that nonsense.”
“I was thinking you’d like to have your birth mom and dad as your always mom and dad,” Case explains. “That’s why we’d be guardian and godmother. But what do you want?”
“I like that,” Kiki says. “That way, I can still talk to them.”
“Exactly,” says Ira.
“But what about my name? Will I be Kiki Flores?”
“If you want,” Case replies. “Another option would be to take all the names. So you could be Kiki Donovan Mahajan Flores, or any other order you wanted.”
“I like it! It’s so long!”
“We can practice,” Case says, so together, they chant the whole thing: Kiki Donovan Mahajan Flores! Kiki Donovan Mahajan Flores!
“I bet nobody else at school has a ten-syllable name,” Case says.
“You’d be surprised,” Kiki answers.
She recites them all: Rainflower Sunshine Jessamine Snowchild; Billy Bob Jasper Water Buffalo; Rebecca Sally Smith-Johnson-Snow-Tea.
“Are you making these names up?” Ira asks.
“Might be,” answers Kiki Donovan Mahajan Flores, as she takes another bite of pancake.