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The Road To Somewhere
Chapter 6

(This chapter was hard to write. I did as much research as I could on adoption, but I am sure there are things I missed.
I know the beginning of this chapter isn't as "full" as it could be and is missing so much, but I did the best I could do.)

September 2005

"What time did you get home today?" Chris asked as he walked into the living room. Elise was sitting on the couch reading over some papers. When she looked up, he leaned down and kissed her on the lips.

"Around 4:30. My meeting ended early," Elise answered with a smile. "How was your day?"

"It was busy. We did get things done, but there is still so much more to go," He answered and sat down next to her, "So what are you working on right now?"

"Well," she paused and glanced over at him and then back down at the papers in her hands. "I was reading some stuff that I printed out about adoption this afternoon."

"Well what did you find out?" Chris asked enthusiastically. Elise looked up at him with a smile. The last time they had talked about it, he had seemed hesitant with the idea. "I've been thinking about it a lot lately … and maybe it is the way to go."

"Really?" She asked. Chris nodded.

"What are our options?" He looked down at the papers in her hands and reached for some of them. Elise handed them over to him.

"There are a lot of ways to go about it …" Elise started, "there are three types of adoption pretty much … umm … domestic adoption that is arranged independently or through an agency; international adoption; and domestic adoption through a public or social services agency." She looked at the papers and pointed them out to him.

"So first we'd have to find an agency?" Chris asked a few minutes later. He had read the things she pointed out and was now looking at her. Elise nodded.

"I found some in Florida," She shuffled through the papers and pulled one out, "Children's Home Society of Florida. They offer an 'orientation' meeting for prospective parents and those are offered every other week."

"Okay," He paused, "When is the next one?"

"I'll have to look." Elise answered, "I e-mailed them earlier for them to send us more information and an application."

"You were going behind my back?" Chris asked and paused.

"Well I was just …" Elise was stopped by his finger. He tilted her chin and leaned down and kissed her.

"It's okay." He smiled and kissed her again.

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December 2005

Elise and Chris had completed the ten-week preparation course that was required of them. It was now the week before Christmas, and they were waiting in the adoption agency's office waiting for their first home study meeting.

"Chris and Elise if you two want to come back now," One of the agency workers said. Chris stood up and helped Elise stand up. They walked over to where she was standing. "My name is Sarah Hayes." She walked them down the hall to her office.

"You guys can have a seat on the couch and we'll get started," Sarah grabbed a file and notepad off of her desk and sat down on one of the chairs across from the couch. Chris and Elise sat down too. "Today we are just going to talk a little bit more about the whole adoption process and what the home study involves. Do you guys have any questions before we get started?"

"I don't have any," Elise said and looked over at Chris. He shook his head 'no.'

"Okay," She nodded, "just stop me if you do. Let's see …" Sarah told them a little more about how adoption works. "Why do you want to adopt?"

"It took us two years to get pregnant the first time," Elise said. "And I lost the baby at 15 weeks. It was really hard."

"We always talked about having kids and adoption was something we talked about," Chris added.

She asked them more questions about what type of adoption they wanted and what they wanted to come from the adoption. Chris and Elise answered the questions.

The meeting lasted for almost an hour before Sarah gave them their 'assignment' that they were supposed to work on till the next time.

"All right. This is what I want you guys to work on it is an autobiographical statement." Sarah stood up and grabbed two sheets of paper off of a shelf. She handed one to each of them. "Pretty much you are just going to write about those things listed there. It will be used to find out more information on you guys and when we start looking at children."

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February 2006

"How are you doing Sarah?" Elise asked showing her inside the house. Sarah stepped inside and followed Elise into the family room.

"I'm doing good," Sarah answered, "where is Chris?" She noticed that he was missing.

"He got held up in the studio," Elise paused, "but he should be home any minute now." She looked at her watch. "Go ahead and have a seat. Would you like anything to drink?"

"No thanks," Sarah sat down in one of the chairs. Elise sat on the couch. "I will go ahead and get started with some questions." Elise nodded, "Why did you guys move to this neighborhood?"

"Well actually the house was a wedding gift for me," She started. "I love this neighborhood though. It's far enough out to be secluded, but close enough to everything that we need to get to on a regular basis. I like that we have land but still have neighbors. It is the type of neighborhood I have always wanted to live in."

"Is it a safe place to live?"

"Definitely," Elise grinned "that was a big thing for Chris considering that he is [or was more so when the house was built] in the spotlight. We have that neighborhood watch program and with the security entrance …" Her thoughts trailed off. Sarah took note.

"What types of people live here?"

"Very family oriented," she nodded, "we have met most of our neighbors. They all have kids who are always outside. And usually during early spring there is a big party. Everyone is really close and watches out for each other especially the kids."

"Hi," Chris said loudly coming into the house. He tossed his keys onto the counter and walked into the family room, "I am so sorry I'm late. What are we doing?" He kissed Elise quickly and sat down next to her.

"I was just asking some questions about the neighborhood and the people who live here." Sarah said, "Why did you choose to build a house in this neighborhood, Chris?"

"I loved the location and I talked to some of the people who already had houses," He answered. "They all liked the area and the conveniences that the neighborhood offers. There is a pool, private lake and golf course, and several small parks with playgrounds."

"Would you show me around?" Sarah asked and stood up from the chair she was sitting in.

"Sure," Elise and Chris stood up. Chris took a hold of her hand and squeezed it. "This is the family room." They walked her through the downstairs pointing out things and then took her upstairs.

"This is the music room and office," Chris opened the door, "It's a little messy which is why we keep that door closed." Sarah peaked in the room that had papers and different instruments.

"Understandable," She smiled and walked towards two other rooms. "What rooms are these?"

"Right now they are both guestrooms but would be the rooms for the children," Elise answered. "The bathroom is right here and our room is down there." She pointed to the other end of the hall. Chris wrapped his arm around her waist and rubbed his hand up and down her side. He gave Elise a small kiss on the lips.

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June 2006

"Buying this is Elise," Elise answered the phone. With her palm resting against her forehead, she leaned against the desk. It had already been a long day and she was just ready to get home.

"Hi Elise this is Sarah from Children's Home Society," She heard over the phone.

"Hi Sarah," Elise perked up. It wasn't often that she called her at the office.

"I know you and Chris weren't looking to adopt siblings, but there are two biracial girls. They are four and one." Sarah explained, "I e-mailed you some pictures a few minutes ago. Talk it over with Chris and let me know."

Elise was opening her work e-mail account as they talked, "Can you just stay on the line please?"

"Yeah," Sarah answered with a nod. Elise opened the e-mail and downloaded the pictures. She tapped her fingers nervously over the keyboard as the pulled up. Elise's heart jumped when she saw the pictures of the little girls.

"They're beautiful," She said quietly. "I love them. Chris will too." She read their names under the pictures, Leah and Abigail.

"Talk to Chris tonight and we'll talk tomorrow," Sarah said.

"Can we call you tonight? I don't think I'll have to even say anything," Elise smiled. She clicked the 'print' button and waited for the pictures to print out. Elise knew that those two girls were going to become a part of their family.

"Yeah you guys can give me a call at him," Sarah smiled through the phone.

"Thank you so much, for everything." Elise said.

"You're welcome. I will talk to you tonight," Sarah said and hung up. Elise hung up too just as the pictures finished printing. She wanted to get home but had a meeting to get to before that was going to happen.

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Elise had wanted to get home sooner, but things held her up at work. Chris' SUV was already in the garage when she came home that night and she was glad. She walked into the kitchen and didn't see Chris in the family room or anywhere downstairs.

"Chris?" Elise called as she headed up the stairs. She heard him moving around in the office.

"I'm in here," He came out of that room. "I just thought I would pick up some. How was work?" Chris wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close.

"It was stressful today. I'm not sure why, but it just was," Elise smiled. She looked up at him and kissed his lips. "I have a surprise for you."

"You do?" He asked, "What's that?"

"In my back pocket," Elise said with a grin.

"Your back pocket, huh?" Chris grinned evilly. His hand that was still around her waist moved down to her left back pocket.

"In the other one," Elise waited until his hand was all the way in her pocket before telling him. She nodded to the right and laughed when wiggled his eyebrows up and down.

"How'd you get a way with wearing jeans today? I thought you had meetings?" Chris asked as he reached into her other pocket. Elise shrugged and stepped away from him when he got the folded paper out. "So what is this?"

Elise watched as he unfolded the white paper and smiled as he checked out the two pictures.

"They look perfect." Elise's smile grew when she heard him say those words. "Sisters huh? I'm going to be outnumbered."

"You're going to love it," Elise laughed. "I told Sarah we'd call her tonight." Chris grabbed her hand before she could get to the stairs.

"Hold on," He pulled her back into his arms. "I love you." Elise smiled as his head moved closer to hers. She wrapped her arms around his neck and waited for him to kiss her. He smiled before his lips met hers and pulled her closer. They stayed like that for a few minutes.

"Can I go call her now?" Elise asked. Her voice was muffled by his t-shirt.

"Yeah," Chris laughed. "I'll go down with you." The two of them went downstairs. Chris sat down on the couch in the family room while Elise went to grab the phone.

"When can we meet them?" Elise asked as soon as she heard Sarah over the phone. Sarah laughed.

"So I guess it is a yes?" Sarah asked with a laugh.

"Yes," Elise sat down on the couch next to Chris. She leaned against his side as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

"Well the three of us are going to have to meet to talk about what will happen next and start signing some papers. So if you guys can come in sometime this week, you could meet the girls next week sometime." Sarah explained. "Let me get my calendar and see when we can do this."

"She wants us to meet with her this week and sign some papers and discuss the process from here," Elise told Chris, "and we can meet the girls next week."

"All right," Sarah came back on the phone, "tomorrow at three. Can you do that?"

Elise thought for a minute and looked up at Chris, "Can you do tomorrow at three?" She asked him. Chris nodded. "I can be there and Chris can too."

"All right," She smiled through the phone, "I will see you guys tomorrow then."

"Great. Thanks again," Elise smiled. "See you later." She hung up the phone and set it down on the end table. "This is so great." Chris put his hand on her cheek and kissed her. Elise pushed closer to deepen the contact. Her stomach growled and they both pulled away laughing. "I'm hungry."

"I noticed," Chris laughed and looked down at her stomach. "Now I think we have a frozen pizza in the freezer. I'll put that in and get us some drinks."

"Sounds good," Elise smiled and moved so that he could get off of the couch. She watched him disappear into the kitchen and reached for the blanket on the back of the couch. Elise threw it over her legs and waited for Chris to come back. He returned a few minutes later with a bottle of wine and two glasses for them.

"The oven is pre-heating," Chris stated. He poured the first glass and handed it to Elise. Elise thanked him and watched as he poured a glass for himself. Chris picked up one of the remotes on the coffee table and turned the stereo on. "What should we listen to?"

"Anything is fine with me," She took a sip of her drink. She watched as he nodded and put the CD player on. Chris got the pizza fixed and served for them to eat for dinner. They sat on the couch listening to the music coming from the speakers and talking once and awhile.

"What do you think they are like?" Elise asked. Chris shrugged. "I bet they are really sweet." She glanced down at the pictures that were now on the coffee table next to the pan of pizza. "Can you believe it? Two daughters …"

"I know," Chris nodded, "it's going to be awesome." Elise agreed.

"How should we do their rooms? We are going to have to move that stuff out of the rooms and really clean out the music room …" She started.

"We don't have to worry about that right now."

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"I called Leah and Abby's foster family and you guys can meet the girls next Wednesday afternoon. She said any time after one would be okay," Sarah said. Elise and Chris both nodded. "What is going to happen is you will meet with the girls at least once a week until we all feel, including the girls, that they are ready to move in. When they are, they will move in.

"It will be around four to six months, and we'll see how well they adjust to living with you guys. If everything goes well with that I will sign a 'consents to adopt' form for your attorney. And from there he will set a court date with a judge." Sarah continued to explain, "At that hearing the adoption will be legalized and Leah and Abby will be legally yours."

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"I am so nervous," Elise looked over at Chris. They were waiting on the front steps for the girl's foster mother to open the door. Chris squeezed her hand.

"Me too," He said quietly. The door opened a few seconds later where an older woman stood; who smiled at the two. She had Abby in her arms. Elise immediately relaxed seeing her warm smile.

"You must be Chris and Elise," She said with a soft voice. "I am Michelle," She introduced herself and with a smile added, "and this is Abby. You guys come on in. Leah is in den." Michelle held the door open for them and they followed her into the small house. The two were led all the way to the back in what appeared to be an addition.

Chris and Elise watched as the four-year old talked admittedly to several stuffed animals that were seated at a plastic pink and white table. Elise wiped at her eyes quickly and looked over at Chris. He had a sweet smile on his face watching the little girl.

"Do you want to hold Abby?" Michelle asked Elise.

"Yes," Elise nodded. Michelle handed the one-year old over to Elise and Elise gladly took her into her arms. "Oh Abby," the baby smiled and snuggled into Elise's embrace. Elise kissed her forehead and held her closer. Chris reached over and rubbed the little girl's back.

Leah had looked up when she heard the new voice. She watched the two new adults who were with her little sister. "Miss Chelle?" Leah asked worried about her sister. There were a few tears in her eyes and she took off out of the room. Chris and Elise looked at each other, then the retreating girl, and over at Michelle.

"She gets a little scared around new people," Michelle explained, "especially if her little sister is involved. Elise would you like to come with me to talk to her?"

"Is that ok?" Elise asked her and then looked at Chris. Chris nodded and reached to take Abby from her. Chris' smile widened when the younger one accepted his embrace and he kissed her cheek. She giggled when he started making faces at her. Chris laughed too. Elise followed Michelle out of the room and through the kitchen. They moved down a hall and stopped at a room with a bed and crib inside.

"Leah," Michelle said quietly and walked into the room. Elise stayed in the doorway and watched. Leah was sitting on her bed and was staring at the corner where the two walls intersected. Michelle sat down and nodded for Elise to come inside. Elise took two steps into the room. "Leah … this is Elise." Michelle asked with her eyes if that was okay for Leah to call her that. Elise nodded.

"No Abby," Leah shook her head and turned around.

"Its okay sweetie," Michelle allowed the girl to crawl in her arms. "Why not Abby?"

"She can't go," Leah hid her face in the older women's chest. Elise wanted to cry along with Leah. Elise moved closer to the bed and sat down on the floor. She looked up at Leah with a sad smile on her face.

"Abby isn't going anywhere Lee," Michelle said quietly. It was quiet for several minutes before Leah looked up. She looked right over at Elise and took her in. Her hand still held onto a part of Michelle's shirt.

"Elise …" Leah said quietly as if she was engraving the name into her memory. "Where's Abby?" She asked Michelle.

"She is in the den with Chris," Michelle answered patiently.

"Who's Chris?" Leah asked looking at Elise again.

"He's my husband, Leah." Elise answered her question quietly. Leah still didn't look to sure of what was going on. "It's okay Chris is a good guy. Do you want to go meet him?" Leah thought about it for a minute before answering. She let go of Michelle's shirt and climbed off the bed. Elise stood up and followed the little girl out of the room. Michelle stayed.

Leah stood in the doorway of the den and watched Chris interact with Abby. Chris had moved to sit down on the couch that was in the room. He had a stuffed animal now and was making it talk.

"It's okay," Elise encouraged from behind Leah. Leah looked up at her and reached for Elise's hand. Elise took it and started walking when Leah did. They walked over to the couch. "Chris," Elise started quietly, "this is Leah."

"Hi," Chris smiled turning his attention from Abby to Leah. "How are you princess?"

"Fine," Leah giggled. He had her charmed already. Leah climbed up onto the couch and caught Abby's attention. Abby moved over onto Leah's lap. Leah wrapped her arms around Abby and pulled her farther onto her lap. "I can help take care of Abby."

"You can? What do you do to help?" Elise asked. She moved to stand next to where Chris was sitting.

"I give her, her food and I play with her." Leah answered with a proud smile.

"That's wonderful," Elise smiled down at the little girl. "Do you go to school?"

"Uh uh," Leah shook her head. "Miss Chelle said next year."

They spent the rest of the afternoon with the girls and getting to know them. Elise didn't want to leave but they had things they needed to do before it got too late. Chris and she gave the girls each a hug and kiss before walking out the door.

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August 2006

"Can I go home with you and Chris?" Leah asked quietly. It was the sixth time the two had visited with the girls and both were ready for them to come home. Her little arms and legs wrapped around Elise's body tighter as Elise pulled her closer.

"You can come home with us very soon." Elise promised. She kissed the little girls cheek. "We have to ask Miss Sarah first, but I think she'll let you come home with us next time. Is that okay?"

"K," Leah nodded. She rested her head on Elise's shoulder refusing to let her go anytime soon. Elise looked over at Chris who had a sleeping Lauren in his arms. Chris looked down at his watch and nodded at Elise.

"I know," Elise answered. Chris had a meeting he needed to be at in thirty minutes and it was all the way across town. "Lee … Chris and I have to go now."

"No," Leah held on and let some tears fall.

"I know I don't want to leave you either." Elise said sadly, "But in two more visits you can come home with us. I promise." She kissed her forehead and hoped she'd be able to keep that promise. It was getting harder and harder for them to leave the girls with Michelle every time they visited. Chris had left to go put Lauren down in her crib.

"Leah?" Elise asked quietly, "what are your two favorite colors?"

"Purple," Leah hiccupped, "and green." She smiled and lifted her head off of Elise's shoulder.

"Those are great colors," Elise smiled and was glad that the change of subjects seemed to help her calm down. Chris came back into the room a minute later. "Do you want to give Chris a hug and kiss before we leave?"

"Yeah," the little girl nodded and turned to look at Chris. Chris smiled and held his arms out for her to come. Leah gladly went into them and wrapped her arms around him.

"Well see you later princess." Chris kissed her cheek and she kissed his, "Love you Leah."

"Love you too," Leah let him put her down on the ground. She turned around and gave Elise another hug. "Love you Lis."

"I love you too kiddo," Elise said. "Well see you and Abby next week."

"Okay," Leah nodded. Michelle came into the foyer.

"See you later." Chris said and opened the front door. He and Elise walked out to their car. Leah stood on the porch waving as they pulled out of the driveway.

"It's getting to hard to leave them like that every week," Elise smiled sadly. Chris reached over and grabbed her hand. He gave it a comforting squeeze. "I think they are ready to come home."

"Yeah," Chris smiled and as he turned the car onto the main road.

"Leah likes purple and green," Elise said. "So I was thinking we could start looking for things for their rooms this weekend."

"Sure," He responded and glanced over at her for a second. "I guess we should probably call Sarah tonight and ask about the two coming home."

Elise nodded, "I can do that while you are in your meeting. I also gave them my two weeks notice at work. Since I want to stay at home with them, and be a full time Mom."

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September 2006

"What do you think?" Elise asked Chris when he had come home from the studio that day. She had dragged him up the stairs the second he walked in the door and was showing him the two bedrooms.

Leah's room had one pale green wall and the other's where a pale purple color. The bed, with its white headboard and footboard, was under the window on the green wall. The bedspread matched reversible and matched the wall colors. The dresser and toy chest were the same style as the bed and painted to match.

"That is very nice," Chris smiled. "You did a great job. What is Abby's room looking like since I left this morning?" He stuck his head into that room and looked around. Abby's room similar only that one of the walls was a pale orange color and the others were pink, and the furniture was more toddler oriented.

"I can't believe they are finally coming home with us tomorrow," Elise said with a grin. Chris wrapped his arms around her and kissed her quickly. "I wish we could sign the papers then too."

"I do too," Chris nodded in agreement. "I do too." They stood in the middle of Abby's room wrapped in each others arms for several minutes.

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"Miss Chelle said we get to go home with you today." Leah said as she jumped and down. She was bouncing off the walls as soon as Chris and Elise stepped into the house. "I have all my stuff ready." Leah grabbed Elise and Chris' hands and pulled them into the room right off of the foyer. "See."

"I see that," Chris laughed at her enthusiasm. "Is Abby's stuff ready too?"

"Yeah," Leah nodded excitedly. "It's right there." She pointed to one of the bags next to her. Chris nodded.

"Do you want to help me take them out to the car?" Chris asked her. He reached down to pick up two of the bags.

"Sure." Leah grabbed her little backpack and followed him out the door. Elise watched them walk out to the car and then looked over at Michelle. Michelle stood in the doorway with Abby in her arms. She had tears in her eyes. Elise walked over to them and wrapped her arms around Michelle and Abby.

"Thank you so much," Elise said with tears in her eyes, "for everything."

"You're welcome," Michelle pulled away and handed Abby over to Elise. "Everything is going to work out. Don't worry."

"I know," She nodded, "I just don't think I can thank you enough for taking the girls in and letting Chris and I visit …"

"It's not a problem," the older women smiled. She rubbed her hand through Abby's short hair. "This is always the best part about being a foster parent; seeing the children go home for the first time in their lives."

Elise wiped her eyes. Chris came back inside followed by Leah who was so excited. He grabbed the last two bags and Leah grabbed one of the handles. They walked back out to the car.

"She's so happy," Michelle left. "Let's go on outside." Elise followed the older women outside with Abby in her arms. Chris put the bags in the back of the SUV and slammed the hatch shut making sure that Leah was out of the way first.

Elise and Michelle watched Chris pick Leah up and turn her upside down. The little girl squealed when he tickled her stomach. He set her down a second later and she ran over to where Elise and Michelle were. Chris walked over to them.

"Let me get a hug from you before you go Leah," Michelle bent over and wrapped her arms around Leah. "You be a good girl for your parents. I love you." She kissed the little girls cheek and stood back up. Michelle patted Abby on the back again and smiled at Elise and Chris.

"Thank you," Chris said and pulled Michelle into a hug.

"I told Elise that it wasn't a problem," Michelle smiled. "If you need anything, don't hesitate to call me. But you guys will be fine." She pulled away. Elise gave her one last hug and smiled down at Leah.

"All right," Elise grinned, "let's go home girls." Leah grabbed Chris' hand and pulled him towards the car. Elise followed. They got the girls in their car seats before getting in their own. Elise waved to Michelle as they pulled out of the driveway.

The thirty minute drive was fast with Leah chattering the whole way. She was quiet though as they pulled into the driveway of their house.

"It's big," Leah said taking it all in. Their home was at least two and a half times the size of the one Leah had lived in for almost a year. Chris drove the SUV into the garage next to Elise's car and shut it off.

Chris got Abby out of her car seat; the little girl had fallen asleep on the way there. Elise helped Leah out and they walked inside. Leah held onto Elise's hand as they came into the kitchen. She seemed to hesitate now.

"It's okay." Elise reassured.

"I'm going to take her upstairs and put her down." Chris nodded towards Abby. He walked through the kitchen and down the hall. Leah and Elise heard him go up the steps.

"Do you want to look around?" Elise asked. Leah nodded quietly. "It's okay to be scared." They walked into the family room and Elise showed her where the movies were and let her know it was okay for her to watch TV or a movie. She showed Leah where the bathroom was downstairs and then took her upstairs.

"This is Chris and mine's bedroom. Just knock before you come in. Okay?" Leah nodded and Elise walked with her down the hall. She opened the door to the music room and showed her. Elise then opened the door to Leah's room and showed her in just as Chris was coming out of Abby's room.

"It's purple and green," Leah's face lit up. She dropped Elise's hand and ran over to the bed. Elise smiled watching as the little girl jumped up onto the bed and looked out the open window. Her eyes widened at the sight of the backyard. Leah leaned over and picked up the stuffed cow that was leaning against the pillows. She hugged it and jumped off of the bed.

"Can we go outside?" Leah asked walking up to Chris and Elise.

"Yeah," Chris answered, "race you down." Leah went screaming out of the room and down the stairs with Chris behind her the entire way. After grabbing the monitor from Abby's room, Elise followed them outside.

Chris was chasing Leah up and down and around the play set they had set up for the girls earlier that week. Elise sat down at the table and watched them run around for nearly ten minutes before Leah insisted that Chris push her on the swing.

Leah warmed up quickly to her new surroundings and Elise was glad for that.

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October 2006

Elise jumped when she felt Chris shift on the bed. He had sat up quickly when the door to the room opened. It had been over a month since the two girls had come to live with them, and everything had been going smoothly.

"What's wrong?" She heard his voice crack with sleep. Elise opened her eyes and rolled over. She felt the bed shift again and saw Leah crawl across the bed into Chris' arms. "It's okay Lee …" Chris wrapped his arm around her.

"I had a bad dream," She sniffed, "they came and took me …" Leah hiccupped.

"No one is going to take you away," he reassured her with a kiss on the forehead. "Me and Lis aren't going to let you go anywhere." Elise sat up and rested her head on her hand. She used her other hand to reach up and rub Leah's back. Leah turned and moved to lay down next to Elise.

"Mommy," Leah snuggled up against her. Elise wrapped her arms around the little girl and pulled her closer.

"Lee …" Elise trailed off. She was shocked when Leah had said that, because since they had come to live with them she'd just been 'Lis.' Chris lay back down and wrapped his arm around the two of them. Leah rolled over and scooted closer to him.

"Love you Dad," Leah said quietly.

"I love you too kiddo," Chris said. Leah closed her eyes and fell asleep in between her parents. Chris sat up a little bit so he could lean over her and give Elise a kiss. "I love you too."

"Ditto that sweetie," Elise said quietly. Her eyes were closed the entire time. Chris lay back down and closed his eyes. He was content to fall asleep with two of his girl's right there.

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January 2007

"Are you excited?" Elise asked Leah. She wrapped a hair tie around the bottom of the first braid. Leah bounced on the bed slightly and Elise reached down to pull the girls dress down. "Hold still, I only have one more braid to go."

"Why?" Leah asked turning her head. Elise turned Leah's head back.

"Why what Lee?" Elise asked.

"Why are we going to court?" Leah asked. Chris came into the room with Abby in his arms. Her hair was pulled up into pigtails held up by two pink bows that matched her dress. He set the little girl down on the floor by the bed and walked into the bathroom.

"Because today the judge is going to say that you and Leah can live with us forever," Elise explained.

"But Dad already said we get to stay." Leah said quietly. Elise tugged a little bit of her hair, "Ow."

"Sorry." Elise kissed the top of her head, "this will make it official with the state."

"Oh," Leah said even though she didn't understand. Abby stood up and leaned against the bed. She watched Elise finish braiding Leah's hair. Chris came out of the bathroom just as Elise was finishing off the braid.

"I just need to run a brush through my hair and then we can get out of here," Elise smiled and got off of the bed. Leah reached over and put her hands underneath Abby's arms. She lifted the little girl onto the bed.

"Be careful when you do that," Chris stood above the two of them. Leah nodded with a smile. He leaned over and planted a kiss on the little girl's cheek. She giggled when his whiskers brushed against her skin. "I love you princess." He picked her up off of the bed and held her in his arms.

"I love you too, Dad." Leah played with the collar on his shirt. The doorbell rang just as Chris was setting Leah back down on the bed.

"That's Kacie," Elise said as she walked out of the bathroom.

"Auntie K!!!" Leah yelled as she jumped off the bed. Elise laughed as the little girl ran out of the room. She picked up Abby from where she was on the bed. Elise and Chris headed downstairs.

"I'm glad you could come," Elise smiled and gave Kacie a hug.

"I wouldn't miss it." Kacie grinned and gave Chris a hug too.

"All right let's get out of here so we aren't late." Elise said.

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They had to wait thirty minutes before they were called into the court room. Sarah was there as was their attorney throughout the whole thing. They were seated after the judge walked into the room and she explained a few things. Chris and Elise were sworn in and then the judge asked them a few questions.

"Do you wish for both Leah Kamili and Abigail Niesha to be your daughters?" She asked.

"I do." Both Chris and Elise answered.

"Do you accept responsibility for their education, healthcare, and all of the emotional and physical needs of these two girls?"

"We do," Chris answered for both.

"Do you understand that these girls are not just yours for today, next week, next month, next year, but for the rest of your lives?"

"Yes," Elise nodded.

"Okay," she smiled and picked up the papers she needed from her desk. "Let me just sign this." The judge signed a couple of sheets of paper and stood up. "Congratulations, legally, you are now a family."

"Thank you." Elise smiled and hugged Abby who was in her arms. She looked over at Chris who was laughing with Leah about something. Chris looked over at her and winked before wrapping his arms around Leah and pulling her closer to his body.

"I love you," Chris mouthed with a smile and looked at Leah who had her head resting on his shoulder. "And I love you," he kissed her forehead. "And I love you Abby." Chris leaned over closer to Elise's chair and gave Abby a kiss before kissing Elise.