Last Thursday was technically Yuri's 4th birthday, but it was her FIRST as an official Garnett. I'm about to tell you the story of how Lluri Elizabeth Bargas became Yuri Elizabeth Garnett.
Many, many times over the last 20 years, I told Willard I wanted to be a foster parent. I needed a fix to baby craving and that seemed like a good way to do it. He repeatedly and sternly rejected it ALWAYS. He had this ridiculous idea that I would get attached and never want to give them back. Seriously?? Me???
So one day I walk into church and there are little Hispanic kids all over the place. I didn't even know the Weaver's and the Tyson's were foster parents, but they suddenly had six little ones between them! These kids were so sweet and I immediately had the "awwwww" reaction. Willard started shaking his head and I could read through the lines. No way, no way, no way... it ain't happening! So as the Weaver's and Tyson's had foster kids coming and going, I just enjoyed getting to see them and resigned myself to the fact that fostering was something our family wouldn't be doing.
I'm not sure of the timeframe, but maybe a year later, I got a picture on my cell phone from Cindy Weaver. She and Dennis had been on their way to Smith Lake for a 4th of July weekend of camping when they got a call from DHR asking them to head back into town to pick up a 9-month-old baby girl. They agreed, as long as they could take her camping! So, on my phone came across this sweet picture of a little brown baby girl. They didn't even know her name, so they were calling her Jewel. She was adorable. Come to find out, her name was Lluri. In Spanish, I'm told, the double L makes a J or Y sound, so when pronounced, it comes out "Juri" or "Yuri", depending on the accent of who is saying it. In my mind, she was "Yuri" from then on.
So, me and Haley Rae and Karlie immediately begin stalking the Weaver's. We would fight over holding her at soccer games and football games. We begged them to let us babysit her. She was absolutely adorable, but the thought of foster parenting was tabled. Willard had squished it like a bug and made it clear that our family would not be fostering. Ever.
I believe Cindy was the first one to notice this, but then we all started noticing it too. Whenever Yuri saw Willard, she immediately lit up and started reaching for him. She liked him more than she liked me or either of the girls. Now, if you know us, you KNOW that's just plain WEIRD. He's big and he's scary-looking and kids typically run the other way. Not Yuri. She would sit in lap at games and be so content. It was really bizarre, to be honest.
So, we're sitting at a football game in September and Yuri was sitting in Willard's lap. She kept reaching up and rubbing his face and beard, and looking at him with those big brown eyes. He looks over and me and pretty much mumbles, "if you still want to do that foster thing, go ahead and sign us up". WHAT DID YOU SAY!?!? I don't think I even answered him. I just waited until Monday morning, called DHR, got the paperwork, and started filling it out. I was afraid to question him because I was scared he would change his mind!
The paperwork involved is unreal. There are basic questions, family history questions, financial questions, and then "touchy-feely" questions. There's one section where you can put what kind of child/children you are interested in fostering. Willard kept telling me to put "Hispanic girl less than one year old". I was like "ummm... that's kinda limiting our options, don't you think?". I finally had to say "Willard, look, you know we're never getting Yuri, right?" She's with the Weaver's and that's going well, and... well, it's just not going to happen. I started worrying that he would be disappointed in any child other than Yuri, but I went ahead and completed the paperwork.
A few weeks after I submitted the paperwork, I got a call from Cindy Weaver. She said "guess what? I just picked up Yuri's baby sister at the hospital". Her what? Apparently Yuri's mom was pregnant! Cindy and Dennis were automatically called to take her when she was born because they keep siblings together if at all possible. So, enter Giovanna Noemi Bargas into the world. Sean (the Weaver's biological son) realized immediately the Giovanna was far too big a name for a 6 lb. baby girl, so she became "Gigi".
Well, you can just imagine the Garnett's... we kicked it into HIGH-gear stalker mode. I know Cindy was so sick of seeing us. We thought of every excuse in the world to "be in the neighborhood" as often as possible. We couldn't get enough of Yuri and Gigi!
Around the first of December, me and Willard are talking one night and he gets this look on his face. It's a look I've come to recognize. He doesn't have it often, but when I see it, I know something serious is about to come out of his mouth and I know that whatever he is about to say is something he's been thinking about for a while. One time it was "I think I'm going to open a lawnmower shop" just out of the blue. Most recently, it was "I want to move to Belize" (that's another story... stay tuned) But on this particular night, he says "I can't explain it, but I think I'm supposed to be Yuri's daddy." I didn't quite know what to say. I mean, that can't be possible. I tried to laugh it off. We can't go to the Weaver's and say "Willard thinks he is supposed to be Yuri's daddy, so hand her over". ?? It's obvious to me that he's serious and struggling with this, so I just don't know how to respond.
About 2 weeks later, we went to a Christmas supper at church. At the end of the night, Dennis walks up to me and hands me Gigi. He said, "You want her?" I, of course, said "Yeah, I want her. Give her here". He said, "No.... I mean, do you WANT her? DHR has told us that the girls won't be able to go back to their mom and they're going to eligible for adoption. DHR wants to move them to an adoptive foster home soon so they can be bonding with whoever is going to adopt them". I was floored. In all of our conversations, Willard and I had always discussed FOSTERING. The word adoption wasn't even on the radar. But the minute I processed the thought, I knew God had just worked out how Willard was going to be Yuri's daddy.
Cindy and Dennis Weaver walked into our house on February 8, 2008, and handed our family the most precious gift anybody ever got.
Loving them and making them a part of our family was the easy part. Making it LEGAL was not so easy, but that's another story.
On May 11, 2010, Lluri Elizabeth Bargas and Giovanna Noemi Bargas officially became Yuri Elizabeth Garnett and Giovanna Grace Garnett.
There were a million reasons for us NOT to foster or adopt, but there were TWO reasons that we should - and they're laying in the floor at my feet right now coloring in a princess coloring book.