I stepped into the house for the first time as the evening crept in. It felt new and frightening.
I didn't even know where I was going to put my things. I didn't have much, but what I did have felt like my last ties to what life was like before. In that thought, there was safety and comfort.
My new family was friendly, but more importantly, they listened. They made me feel welcome without being patronizing or condescending. They asked me how I felt and what I needed. They even let me pick dinner for my first night at the new house.
Chris (he said I didn't have to call him "Dad" unless I wanted to or felt ready to) gave me a tour of the whole house. There were more rooms than I was used to seeing, but they were modestly decorated.
As we approached a room near the end of the hall, Chris said:
"This will be your space; you can put your stuff down in here and unpack whenever you're ready."
It felt good thinking of the area as my new "space" rather than a new bedroom. New posters, new decorations, it felt...safe, even though it was so unfamiliar.
The room was thoughtfully arranged. Neutral, calm colors and warm lighting. I approached my new nightstand and noticed the family had framed a picture of me sitting with my biological parents. I felt tears down my face, but it was bittersweet. My new family had a good relationship with my bio family and promised to maintain ties, as long as I was comfortable with it.
My world and my life, though shaken, were still intact. I thought of my new family as a bridge to the next stage of my life, rather than people who are in some way, replacing the roles of my biological parents.
Once we were done with the tour of the house, Chris leaned in and said:
"Listen, we don't expect to replace your family or force our lifestyle on you. Our job is to support and love you through this stage of transition. Life won't be the same for you, but we will help you find a new normal."
I gave a polite grin and settled back into my new space. I shut my eyes, slipping into to sleep, anxiously awaiting what challenges I would face the next day, the next month, the next life.