The concrete reality of her decision to step up to become an adoptive mom slammed Kiana hard when she turned to look behind her as she got out of the elevator in her building and there he was. Jonah. The kid she had adopted. She had really done this thing! And now, there was a kid who would always be behind her, who would always need her, and whom she would always be responsible for. Holy wow, indeed.
Her days of long quiet solitude and not having to answer to anybody were over. Just like that.
She’d thought long and hard about it, but in the end, she really felt it was the right thing–it was what Case had done, and since she had so much now, so much to share, it just seemed like she should do it, too.
“Gosh, we’re so high up,” Jonah said. “I want to take in this vista and treasure it, you know, so that when I get sent back, I’ll still be able to remember what it was like to live at bird level, even if it was just for a little bit.”
Kiana’s heart broke.
“You’re not going to be sent back,” she said. “You’re home! You get to live here always!”
If there’s a little kid who depends on you, she learned in that moment, then your own worries and concerns can wait. She’d figure out how to deal with losing her solitude–and she’d find some way to get what she needed–but right now, this child, her actual, adopted son, needed her and needed to feel that he was home.
It didn’t take Jonah long to find the balcony garden upstairs.
“I love plants,” he said, racing up to talk with them as the sun set.
Before bed, they sat together in the kitchen. Kiana cooked a snack of grilled cheese sandwiches, and after they ate, Jonah wanted to talk.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I think maybe this was meant to be.”
“Oh, yeah?” replied Kiana. “What do you mean?”
“The truth is in our names.”
She looked at him quizzically.
“Names don’t lie.”
“And so… what is it about our names that makes you think this was meant to be?”
“They rhyme!” He replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Kia-NA, Jo-NAH.”
“Sometimes I’m called Kiki,” Kiana answered.
“Then I can be Jo-Jo,” he said.
Kiana woke early, while it was still dark, to make breakfast and pack Jonah’s lunch. The adoption counselor had recommended that he begin school right away, to start right in with the normal routine and schedule. “We’ve found,” she said, “that for most children, having their new parents take them to school and then be there to pick them up, right away, even in the early days of settling in, actually helps the child adjust more quickly. It’s the routine as well as the going-off-to-school and the coming-back-to-home again that is important.”
Kiana thought of Ira while she cooked. Had Ira realized how much of a mom to her she’d been? She never called Ira “Mom,” for she always felt that her birth mom was there, an angel inside of her, but for her, the name “Ira” meant everything that “Mom,” in its best sense, signified.
She had set three tomatoes on the counter–and they reminded her of the little family unit she, Ira, and Case had formed. My, she had been happy! She felt, at home, that she always had a safe place with people who understood her. She hadn’t wanted for anything.
“Don’t worry, Kiki,” she heard a voice, that sounded a lot like Ira’s, say. “You’ll be able to provide the same for him.”