A phone call can change a life. In this case, it changed multiple lives (four, to be exact).

Growing up, I never felt like an only child. I was always surrounded by friends, but I craved the sibling bonds that I witnessed in the lives of my friends. After months and months of adoption parties (which bring together children in foster care and potential parents), my dad met this little girl (who he aptly nicknamed “Peanut”). She was literally bouncing off the walls, and presumably asking for a slice of pizza or to do another craft.

So, after a few parental discussions that I wasn’t involved in, a small, bubbly, energetic little girl started spending weekends at the Graziano household. This was the result of me asking for a sibling, along with my parents deciding they had heard enough of me asking for a sibling. Harley came flying into our house with all of the energy you could expect from a 10-year-old girl. We’re only four months apart, so it felt like I had gained a sister and a best friend all in one. Between tea parties with our American Girl dolls and pretending that the long hallway in our house was an airplane, we became soul sisters. I finally learned what had been missing all along.

It wasn’t long before I was telling everyone in my life about this girl who I hoped and prayed would become my sister. And it wasn’t long after that when I learned that she truly would become my sister. One Sunday morning at church, Harley rushed into Sunday school and promptly shouted with joy in her voice, “I’m being adopted, and you’ll NEVER see me again!” I held back giggles, knowing a secret that she didn’t, and our Sunday school teacher cried, wondering how on earth we would let someone else adopt Harley.

To this day, that is the hardest secret I’ve ever kept. I don’t remember the exact timing, but I do remember the phone call. We were finally going to tell Harley that it was us who planned to adopt her.

I remember the ringing of the phone and waiting impatiently for my parents to hand it over so I could talk to my new sister. They told her it would be official, that she would soon become a Graziano. Then it was my turn, and I said, “Hi, Sis.” We chatted, and then she asked, “Can I talk to Robyn?” I’ll never forget what I said next: “You know, you can call her ‘Mom’!”

Over the last 15 years, I’ve received many phone calls either from or pertaining to Harley. Some good, some bad, some joyful, some hard to handle. But no matter what we’ve been through as sisters or as family, I’ll always hold that first phone call closest to my heart. The one where I finally introduced myself as Nunzi, a sister.

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