Chapter 13

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Freddie's POV
It had been a few weeks since Hannah's first appointment with her therapist and things started to look up. Just as Charlie recommended, Alan and I spent three weeks with Hannah, alone and without any distractions. Alan took three weeks off work and I took a break from writing; all of our time and attention was focused on Hannah. We implemented the ideas Hannah and Charlie came up with at bedtime to help her feel more safe and they seemed to be helping; she still woke up from nightmares time to time but she wasn't as anxious around bedtime as she once was. Hannah was coming more out of her shell each day; she wasn't regressed as young and was much less anxious at home. I think that Hannah finally saw that our home was a safe place and knew that we would always protect her.

Given that Hannah was getting more comfortable at home, we thought it would be a good time to introduce her to Alan's parents and my sister. Charlie agreed and gave us to green light to go ahead with the introductions. When our families found out we adopted Hannah they were all dying to meet her. My sister Mia was quite disappointed when she found out she had to wait almost a month to meet her as she was quite eager to be an Auntie. Alan's parents, Karen and Joe, were more understanding though. After Alan had left the house they decided to become foster parents. They have taken in several foster children, many of whom had intellectual and developmental disabilities, so they understood the adjustment period that is needed when you bring a child like Hannah home.

We invited Mia, Karen, and Joe to come over for dinner and to meet Hannah. Not surprisingly, my sister arrived first and was quite early. As I said she was very eager to be an Aunt. "Well where is? Where is Hannah?" Mia said a little too loudly as she walked to our door. "Shhhh she's napping, Christ why are you here so early?" I told her. "I couldn't help it. I've been waiting a month to meet her, I couldn't wait any longer." "Well you're going to have to wait a little longer, she just fell asleep and I don't want to wake her," I told her. "I'm so excited to be an Auntie finally! I thought you and Alan would never adopt children!" she replied. I chucked at her and said, "well it looks like we finally both got our wish. Come, have a seat  with Alan and I in the kitchen while we wait for his parents to arrive and Hannah to wake up."

Mia, Alan and I sat in the kitchen drinking coffee until Joe and Karen arrived. We all chatted for a bit in the living room when I heard Hannah stirring on the baby monitor.  "Excuse me, I think she's waking up. Let me go take care of her, I'll bring her down as soon as she's settled down." I said as I left everyone downstairs. I walked into Hannah's room to find her rubbing her eyes, sitting up on her bed. When she saw me her face lit up and she reached her arms towards me. "Hello darling, did you have a good nap?" I asked her as I took her in my arms. "Yes Daddy," she said as she snuggled into me. After a few minutes of cuddling I told her, "princess do you remember what we talked about would happen today? Do you remember people are coming to meet you today?" "Mmmm Hmm," she replied as she looked up at me. "Well everyone's downstairs ready to meet you. What do you say we go down there and say hello?" I said as I rubbed her back to wake her up a bit more. "Okay," she said a bit nervously. "It's alright darling, Papa and I will be there the whole time," I said as I took her hand and we walked downstairs.

Once we made it downstairs I could see Hannah tense up upon seeing all the people but to my surprise she wasn't clinging to my or Alan's side but was standing a bit of a distance from us. "Everyone this is our daughter, Hannah," I said. Karen and Joe were standing back and seemed to let Hannah take the lead. However Mia saw that as her invitation to approach Hannah a little too quickly.  "It's so nice to finally meet you Hannah!" Mia said a little too enthusiastically and loudly as she moved towards Hannah in an attempt to hug her. Her enthusiasm scared Hannah and made her flinch away and run into my arms. Devastation appeared across Mia's face as she saw Hannah whimpering and cowering in my arms with her face buried in my chest. "I...I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to frighten her," Mia said with guilt in her voice. "It's alright Mia. Hannah just gets a bit nervous around new people, we need to take things a bit more slowly with her," I said trying to reassure her. I then turned my attention to comforting Hannah saying, "hey it's alright, nothing bad is going to happen. Daddy and Papa are right here, everything's alright. Darling everyone that's here loves you very much and they're just excited to meet you." Hannah seemed to calm down after a few minutes in my arms so I decided to take the lead in the introduction to Mia, "Hannah, this is your Auntie Mia. Darling, Mia is my sister, can you say hello?" Hannah peaked her head out from my chest a bit to get a look at Mia. I felt her relax in my arms as she took in Mia a bit more. "Hi," she said as she turned a bit towards Mia but still clinging to me. I motioned for Mia to moved closer a bit and she did but slowly this time. When she got closer, Hannah reached out to touch one of Mia's bracelets, "pretty," she said as she touched the bracelet. Hannah was referring to the bracelet our parents got Mia on her 16th birthday. It was a tradition in our family to be gifted a fine piece of jewelry on our 16th birthday as a symbol of our parents love and our coming of age. Mia seemed relieved by Hannah's reaction and engaged with her saying, "you like it? Hannah this bracelet is very special. Do you see the necklace that Daddy is wearing? When we were young, our parents got Daddy and I each a piece of jewelry to show how much they loved us. Everyone in our family gets one. Maybe one day you, Papa, Daddy, and I can go pick out something for you? Would you like that?" Hannah nodded her head in reply and smiled at Mia who smiled back. 

After her introduction to Mia Hannah's attention then shifted towards Joe and Karen. "Sweetheart this is your Nana and Grandpa," Alan said. "Darling, Nana and Grandpa are Papa's Mommy and Daddy." I told Hannah as she remained in my arms. "Hello honey, Nana and I are so happy to meet you," Joe said to Hannah as he and Karen remained sitting on the couch. "Darling how about we go sit next to Nana and Grandpa? Come on Daddy will carry you," I said as I picked her up. Hannah and I sat on the couch next to Karen and Joe but Hannah was still clinging to me. "It's a little scary to meet so many new people isn't it?" Karen said to Hannah to which Hannah nodded her head. "It's okay sweetie you just take your time," Joe said. "Nana, Grandpa?" Hannah said, I think she was trying to remember all the names. "That's right this is your Nana and Grandpa," Alan said. Hannah smiles at them and I felt her relax in my arms. I think she was comforted by how gentle they were being with her. "Well, I'm awfully hungry, why don't we go have some dinner," Alan suggested. At that we all moved towards the dining room to have the wonderful dinner Alan had prepared.

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