Archive for November, 2009

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back home again

November 29, 2009

We got Rowan back to his RTC this afternoon and we just now got back home. I don’t know that I’d say the house feels empty without him, but his room certainly feels like his room. I think our cat Thing One slept on his bed all evening, which he’s been doing most of the day after sneaking in this morning to surprise Rowan while he was sleeping. That’s what he gets for watching scary movies before bed; he freaked out when the cat hopped up on him because in his sleepy state he thought it was a giant snake! We reiterated that he’s always free to throw the cat away from him or shut him out, but apparently he’d been happy to have the cat around once the surprise passed. While he’d told us he was a light sleeper now that he’s not on sleeping pills, he was definitely out cold while he was here, which we take as a good sign.

The same staffer who signed Rowan over to us came over from his cottage to pick him up. This guy was visibly moved to see Rowan’s big grin and he nodded happily to us when Rowan picked up his new duffel bag to bring his stuff back to his room. Apparently Rowan’s worker (my high school friend I’ll call Angela) and his Court-Appointed Special Advocate will be seeing him on Monday or Tuesday and his first court appearance up here will be in less than two weeks. Then the bulk of the court case will occur sometime in January. When I’d talked to Angela about him initially, she’d thought he was on track to graduate from the RTC program in January, but I don’t know if they’re going to want to keep him through the duration of the trial or what. We’d already explicitly told his counselor and staffer down there (and Angela already knew) that if he has to stay in our area for multiple days of testimony during the trial(s?), he’s welcome to be here.

I just called Angela’s cell phone to check in and let her know we’d dropped him off. I also told her what we’d talked about on the drive back, that we think this kid fits as close to seamlessly as we can imagine into our lives. We can totally envision him flourishing at our close-knit local public school, where he’s benefit by being a star athlete in the small pond and also be eligible for the kind of one-on-one support he clearly needs in certain subjects, and then maybe doing two years at Lee’s community college (with free tuition for faculty children) before taking advantage of the money the state offers foster care alumni for college. I can imagine sadder outcomes too, of course, but he shows unbelievable personal strength and tenacity in the face of a truly awful personal history, and this was one point everyone we’ve talked to about him conveyed again and again.

So we told Angela that regardless of whether he’s gone through TPR, we want her to know we’re interested in being his next placement when he leaves the RTC. There’s virtually no way his parents (who are not his biological parents; this is a failed adoption) will retain legal rights to him, but it could still be a while before the issue is decided. If that means we become his adoptive parents (well, Lee becomes his legal mother) that’ll be great. If it means the judge orders that he and his brother (16 and from what I gather violent, in a different RTC) must be adopted together, we’d be willing to stay his foster parents until he ages out of the system or his brother does and he’s available for adoption on his own. If somehow there’s a family ready to adopt the two of them, we’d support that placement as best we could and let him know he has us as backup, as people who care about him and want him to succeed. It means, regardless, that we’ll be open to driving him an hour from here to see his brother regularly; they’ve only visited once in the last year and this is something that really bothers him. It could mean we’d be his foster parents and then someone in his extended family would be approved as a placement, in which case he’d at least be local and again we could serve as mentors and supports for him. We just want to be there however he needs us to be there, however we can help make his life better. There are so many things that could happen or change, but we think he’s incredible and want to be in his life.

This is not exactly what we planned. Lee had gone through all of this with her heart set on the biracial three-year-old boy she’d imagined for so long, though I’ve long thought that a teenager would be a better fit for her. We’d talked about not being a pure foster family because her attachment issues would cause her to fall in love immediately and not be able to disconnect in a way that’s healthy for her if the placement isn’t permanent. She’s impressed me so much with her ability to show Rowan that she loves him with her actions, knowing that saying it wouldn’t be appropriate now and might be sort of scary for him. She’d whisper to me every night that she loves him and that he’s such a good boy, but I’m so proud of how she was able to put his needs before her own. And because she was calling her biological mother Leah and her biological half-sister Shasta to wish them both happy Thanksgivings, she got to explain her adoption story to him, which led to him sharing the bones of his adoption story with us. He certainly saw it as a connection between them, and so just as I think it was good for him to see a loving same-sex couple, I think it may have been good for him to see siblings who hadn’t even known each other as children love and support each other (Shasta’s having a hard time and called back later for some advice) because this is something that with one bio-brother in an RTC and another living with family he might be dealing with down the line.

I’ve said before I’m not a believer in things happening for a reason, but I know Lee is. I’d talked to her when our kitten Thing Two died about how maybe his loss would make room in our life for someone else to love. On our drive home, we talked about how Thing One had someone to cuddle with and nap on when Rowan was here. Our dog Pocky, while she respected him as a human as far as pack issues go, seemed to know he was a child and was somehow fragile and thus played the loving and responsible protector role she’d played with her beloved Thing Two. And after weeks in which the last thing Lee said as she was going to bed was that she loved and missed Thing Two, it was quite noticeable to hear her whisper to me that she loves Rowan and she hopes he knows it. It’s exactly what she used to say about the kitten, silly as that sounds. And me, I’m still being the proud, loving, responsible one, making sure everyone gets fed and has room to play. I’m so proud of every member of our family of choice, and Rowan fits that category now.

Lee kept saying that this weekend couldn’t have been more perfect, and while I’d have been quite happy to avoid this cough, I think she’s right that Rowan was wonderful. I don’t think ti’s just that he was trying to be good; we got to see plenty of his true personality. We talked about how it won’t always be this easy and this pleasant, how we’ll have to tell him to get his socks off the floor and we’ll have to figure out what consequences there are when he breaks curfew and we’ll definitely have to work on helping him read better, because he’s got such a great mind and wonderful listening skills that he’s clearly been covering his deficits for too long…. But as everyone who’s been reading this while he’s been here probably knows, we think this is it. I believe we can do this whole parenting thing. And so now we’ve given our official notice that we want to try. The rest we’ll have to figure out as we go along. Thanks to all of you who’ve given me supportive comments, who’ve written useful blog posts even if you don’t read or comment here. I feel so much better prepared than I’d have been otherwise, and I hope Rowan’s life will be improved because of you. I agree with all his workers, too, that no kid could deserve that more. He’s awesome and I’d be proud to be his parent. I got to shake his hand goodbye today and squeeze his shoulder and I think he knows that. I know we do.

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p.s.

November 28, 2009

Oh, yeah, and the other unanticipated role reversal is that I was the first one to let a cussword slip. I’m quite sure it was something Rowan had heard before and he chivalrously claimed not to have heard me say it, but I was mightily displeased when I got home from the pharmacy and discovered I’d bought myself the painkiller/fever reducer we already had and not the one the doctor had recommended. We’d been joking all week about when and how Lee would slip up first, so I guess I deserved to have that honor.

On the pharmacy trip, though, I zipped across the street while my prescription was being filled and bought Rowan a duffel bag. His counselor had been shaking her head about his having to put his belongings (all program uniforms except his hoodie and pajamas) in a garbage bag. She told us he’ll get a small clothing allowance when he leaves, but most of the kids have clothing they bring in with them and Rowan didn’t. So after my first foray into Black Friday shopping, he now has a few new t-shirts, some long-sleeved shirts, and a sweater. So maybe that counteracts using baaaaad language some.

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role reversals

November 28, 2009

One of the fears I’ve had about co-parenting with Lee is that I’ll end up doing the bulk of the work. She has a tendency to go easy on herself, decide she‘s finished before a job is finished. So when we’ve been babysitting or with the girls we mentored, it seemed to me there were often situations where I ended up doing actual childcare while Lee wandered off to make time for herself or something similar. I was really afraid this weekend would give her more opportunities for that and then I’d panic about how I don’t want that to be the way it will go forever.

Instead, I ended up running a fever and finally this morning getting my sinus infection diagnosed. I’ve begun treatment, but I’m supposed to keep myself in isolation for 24 hours (you know, like the three of us in the car driving Rowan back tomorrow) and so I bowed out of the minor league sports even they’re attending right now. And I haven’t been cooking as much as I would normally, plus I think I went to bed before 9:00 pm last night. And actually this is a really good thing, because Lee has more than picked up the slack. I do think I’ve bonded with Rowan and he knows I’m the person to go to for questions about whether he should do his laundry after the game tonight or tomorrow morning and for questions about books. But he and Lee have a gentle banter going and he’s gotten to ask her a lot of questions about the sports figures they both like. They’ve been learning things from each other. It’s been wonderful for me to watch, and I don’t think it would have happened like this if I’d been able to take a more active role. Instead they’re finding their own balance, and it’s a good one.

So I’m grateful I got sick, grateful I wasn’t able to do all the things I would have wanted to do. I definitely don’t mind that I’ll be getting some quiet time in a hot bathtub while they’re cheering in the stands and deciding whether or not to buy overpriced nachos. But I’m very grateful I wasn’t overbearing and instead let things grow naturally. So I got to sit on the sidelines at the park with the dog this morning and watch them play together like this:
Rowan shoots the basketball as Lee tries to defend

He won one kind of game and she won the other. It sounds like she’s taught him a little about how to trash talk and he’s taught her a bit about how to let your playing speak for itself. (And they don’t revoke your foster license for fouling a kid in your care, right?)

We drive him back tomorrow so we’ll all have a day to decompress before regular life starts up again. I imagine we’ll spend much of the drive back reminiscing and part of it figuring out what our Christmas plans should be. We hadn’t had any, but we’d like Rowan to see our church and we won’t want him staying in his placement over those holidays if he doesn’t want to…. So this is how it begins!

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grateful

November 27, 2009

We just got back home from dinner at my parents’ and some games of Apples to Apples in time for Rowan to get his nighttime prescription and call back to his housefather for his nightly check-in. I took advantage of having the medicine box unlocked to take some Nyquil, so I’ll be upstairs dripping into bed soon and leaving Lee and Rowan alone down here. I feel totally comfortable with that because they’re getting along so well. Rowan has noticed the way Lee and I rib each other and has joined in teasing her gently, though never forgetting the “ma’am.” He corrected her about a factual error (she’d placed Prohibition in the 1920s) by deadpanning “And aren’t you a teacher, ma’am?” and we all cracked up.

It’s been so cool having this young man in our house. When we went to pick him up, he kept his head down and his arms wrapped behind his back. Now he’s rocking back and forth on the couch and talking sports happily, perfectly comfortable sharing his opinions. And even though he’s supposedly not comfortable with adult men, he did really well with my dad and my three brothers, all of whom are older than he is. He thinks of himself as an adult, I know, and I know he struggles with the idea of having more parents after the parents he’s had have not worked out, but Lee has told me she definitely wants to move forward and support him however we can, whether that means as a long-term foster commitment while he gets through the TPR case or as his adoptive parents.

Me, I’m not sure what to say. I’d said I was hardening my heart and maybe that’s what’s happened. There’s absolutely no way I could take this wonderful guy back to his placement and not care what happens to him after that; that’s just not going to happen. But I want to make sure that what we can give him is what’s best for him too. So at this point I’m not wedded to any outcome and I don’t want to make decisions based just on his good behavior. I do know, though, that it was plenty comfortable to hear some music coming out of the other bedroom and to see the dog cuddling up against Rowan. I want him in our lives and I want to be in his. We’ll see where things go from there, but I think my friend the social worker might be getting her wish. I feel so warmed by all the possibilities, even though I know there will be all kinds of hard work required too. I’d been feeling pretty dispirited and now that’s not how I feel anymore. Now I feel full of hope and thankfulness, and also Nyquil, which is why I think I’m going to sign out for now.

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He’s here!

November 26, 2009

After a lovely dinner at DQ in some tiny town off the interstate and a good seven hours in transit, we have a new member of our household for the weekend. Rowan’s been so well-behaved and genuine that we’re letting him look at clips on YouTube on the slow computer in his bedroom with his door open, though he wasn’t bothered by the idea that we’d take away the modem cable at bedtime so he couldn’t be tempted to try again while he’s supposed to be sleeping. The cat is sitting on the desk with one paw on Rowan’s leg while Rowan strokes his furry ears. Earlier the dog was cuddling Rowan and Rowan seemed comfortable with her too. We didn’t expect either of those transitions to be quite as easy as they were.

One benefit to being in a car for three hours with a teenager is that teenagers tend to open up in the car. Rowan was sitting in the back in the dark and by the time we got home, his whole body had relaxed and he was clearly much more comfortable with us. He still consistently calls us “ma’am” but when I let him use the phone to call one of his positive peers he referred to us as “my one foster mom” and “my other foster mom,” which I know doesn’t actually mean anything mom-like and didn’t feel mom-like but made me feel really cool and happy nonetheless. On the other hand, when we were talking on the phone last night and he said “My parents — my old parents” that broke my heart even though I believe this to be a case where it’s clear that they need to not be his parents anymore. Everything is so much more complicated when there’s an actual specific child involved, and it’s the little things that bother me more than the big ones now. I knew about the abuse, but hearing details of the neglect just eats away at me. I don’t know if this is normal.

Oh, and his best friend is the biological older brother (they’re split for purposes of adoption) of Jay, the possibly transgender 10-year-old whose worker is supposed to be getting our homestudy. So we got to hear more about both of them. It sounds like the older brother will get to spend Thanksgiving with the foster family his worker hopes will adopt him, which would be great. I love being able to make these tiny, tenuous connections with the children whose stories live in my head.

So now with the sounds of YouTube’s finest hiphop and R&B in the background, I’ll be the foster mom who’s about to turn on the humidifier and get some sleep. I have no complaints about any of that.

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today’s the day

November 25, 2009

(Apologies to Andy for sort of stealing her title, but it’s the name of the email I sent Lee this morning too and very much how I feel right now.)

I’m working a half-day today, maybe even less since I’m a bit under the weather (by which I mean I’m keeping my fever down with medicine and then sort of pretending it’s not a fever when it’s not actually over 99, which seems to be the point where I feel crummy) and there isn’t a whole lot of work to be done today. As soon as Lee gets finished teaching, she’ll come home and I’ll wrap her hand and then we’ll hop in the car and drive for what I hope won’t be more than three hours to see Rowan.

I got to talk to him myself last night. He’s been vaccinated for seasonal and H1N1 flu, so even if that is what I’m coming down with, I don’t have to feel like a horrible person for potentially exposing him and we don’t have to cancel his visit, which we really didn’t want to do. He was clearly trying not to say “ma’am” as much as he had with Lee, but we talked about what I like to do and he had some questions about the animals and wanted to know their names. He did ask about religion, and it sounds like his religious background might overlap pretty well with the worship at the church we’ve been attending. I told him a little about the church and that it was mostly black and mostly gay, but I didn’t actually out myself as an atheist because this was our first conversation ever and it was taking place over the phone. He’s a Christian, though, and seemed happy to hear that Lee is too.

I’ve just sent Lee a list of the house rules we’d discussed (some home-specific things like keeping the toilet seat down when it’s not in use, making sure closets and the pantry get shut tight so the cat can’t open the doors; more general personal privacy and boundaries stuff like that none of us have to answer questions if we don’t want to and that we’ll all wear clothes in public and follow certain rules about bathroom and bedroom privacy) and if she’s okay with them, I’ll print them out so we can bring them along to run by Rowan and his counselor while we’re doing paperwork and checking him out of his program. He’ll also have to abide by the program’s rules, meaning he’ll check in with them nightly and one of us has to be with him at all times (meaning we can’t let him go out alone and can’t leave him alone; he’ll still get his privacy and space) and we’ll administer any medications he has and make sure he doesn’t have access to ours.

We knew the story of Rowan’s abuse and some of his reactions to it before we knew much about him as a person. Now we’ve heard more from the various professionals in his life — counselor, housefather, caseworker — and they all align pretty well. He had a rough life where he was kept away from normal living to a large degree and also faced abuse within the home. He simultaneously knows too little and too much about the world, and so we’re supposed to help him see a more balanced view of what family can be and how he can fit into a functioning family. But everyone marvels at how amazingly he’s overcome his prior sadness and low self-esteem. Everyone thinks he’s sweet, charming, sensitive, basically impressive. It’s possible that he’s just a very effective manipulator, but the more similar stories I hear the more I’m inclined to believe them. He sounded so sweet and so genuine when I talked to him, and I admit I’m thrilled about the prospect of spending a few days with this kid just because he seems so pleasant.

Lee teased me last night by saying that I’d grinned the whole time I was talking to him and that I seemed to have a whole new outlook on life afterwards (since the first was what I’d said to her the night before — probably true in both cases — and the second was as much a result of my medicine kicking in against my fever as anything else) but she might be right. Rowan’s old enough and smart enough to know that the three of us are being tested as a potential adoptive placement. It doesn’t sound like he’s too pressured to be making a good impression, but he’s genuinely curious about us and it had clearly made an impact on him when his worker told him about us six weeks or so ago, because he still remembered details from that conversation. We all know the goal is to have a good weekend and see how he does, but Lee and I at least know it’s his worker’s goal to place him with us if it seems like a good fit and the legalities work out. I have no idea how we’d make that decision, but I know we’ll know a lot more about how we feel about him and our parenting potential after we finally get a chance to try it out. And today’s the day that begins.

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Talking to Rowan

November 24, 2009

I finally got an email my friend the social worker (who’s going to need a blog pseudonym soon) that we were set up to host 15-year-old Rowan for Thanksgiving. He’s in a residential treatment center three hours away from here, so we’ll be working half days Wednesday (well, I will; certain professors are already finished at 1 pm on Wednesdays, not that I’m jealous!) and then driving down to meet him, stop somewhere for dinner, then drive back up here. So today I talked to Rowan’s counselor at his residential treatment center. Then Lee called this evening and talked to someone I think is basically the housefather on the evening shift, who eventually put Rowan on the line. He and Lee talked for a few minutes before his time was up and the phone went back to the housefather. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, which is frustrating since I was going to ask things like what he eats for breakfast. I might be able to talk to him tomorrow, but if not there’ll be nothing I desperately need to know before meeting him Wednesday.

Rowan plays the same position Lee did when she was playing sports in high school and college, so they were able to talk about that. Everyone has told us he’s very polite and easygoing and he did indeed say “ma’am” constantly throughout the conversation. Lee had a big grin throughout their talk. I’m not sure whether he knows where our town is, but he’s from a few miles from here. I’d told his counselor that we were planning to stay out of the town where he grew up to avoid triggering anything and she thought that was wise. That’s the only advice we’ve gotten, though; everyone seems to think he’ll do fine with us.

Well, his housefather thinks he’s a little conflicted about staying with us, excited but sort of scared. This is the first holiday since the state moved to terminate his parents’ rights, so I’m sure there are some bittersweet aspects of having to compare what he’s lost to where he’s living now and to how we live. I don’t think he’s had respite from the treatment center since he arrived there last spring, so that too is something new. And his counselor says he’d been asking her daily when he’d be able to stay with us. (That’s kind of how we felt too when waiting to hear if this had been worked out!) But even after she knew today that it was confirmed, the first he heard about it was right before he talked to Lee. His housefather says he asks questions all day long and need to know what’s happening and why to feel secure (which is how I am, so I’m sympathetic) but he didn’t have a lot of questions for us. He’s clearly been listening to what he’s been told about us, because he knew that Lee was black and had played ball…..

So what do we know about him? A lot about his abuse history, sadly. One thing that scares me is that the last time he was in our area, he ran away and did some self-destructive things while homeless before he was taken back into custody. It’s clear that this behavior was a response to the abuse he finally began disclosing then, but I worry a little about how it’s going to feel for him to be back in this part of the state where he’s from and where his family members live, whether he’ll have the same kind of panicky reactions. But since none of the professionals in his life are worried about this, I’m choosing not to make it a big issue or anything; I do worry, though. We know he’s got low self-esteem, but apparently thinks well enough of himself to brag about his sports skills a bit to Lee. We know he’s relaxed and polite, inquisitive. We believe he’s gay, but I don’t know that it’s anything that will come up. We’re not going to force the issue, but I hope it will be good for him to see a functional (theoretically!) and happy (ditto!!) same-sex relationship.

So yeah. I guess I should be emptying my last boxes of books from that bedroom rather than blogging, huh? Instead we’re talking about house rules and finding a local minor league sporting event we can all attend Friday. And Lee has said several times, “What if Rowan becomes our SON???” She’s still grappling with the possibility of having a white son, but you know, maybe the next one will be non-white…. For now, though, we’re just aiming to have a nice Thanksgiving and a good visit with Rowan. The future after that is full of many possibilities.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2009

Today is the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and I wasn’t planning to write about it because I wasn’t planning to write about anything today, but plans changed. We got a response from the statewide Wendy’s Wonderful Kids worker about the 10-year-old I mentioned in my last post, whom I’ll call Jay. She’s gone to see Jay this week and thinks he’s genuine in his desire for a family. She wants to have a permanent placement for him when he’s ready to move out of his Residential Treatment Center and obviously she’s been pushing us fairly hard about deciding whether we could be that home. I emailed Elizabeth and asked her to please send this worker our homestudy so they can start the process of evaluating us as a potential match for him. If they turn us down, that will be the end of it, but if they accept us we still get plenty of chances to decide whether or not we want to move forward. But because he’s part of this designated recruitment program, it looks like we’ll be able to talk to his therapists and even meet him while our homestudy is still being considered. So right now our file is out on Jay (or will be once Elizabeth is back in the office and sends it out) and we still don’t know whether Rowan will be staying with us for Thanksgiving. Although he and Jay will both probably be leaving their respective RTCs early next calendar year, because Rowan’s parents’ rights have not yet been terminated, we couldn’t put in our homestudy as a potential placement for him even if we wanted to and we don’t want to until we have a chance to meet him and really assess whether it’s best for him to come back to this region and so on.

In Jay’s long list of diagnoses is the notation that at times he’s expressed a belief he should have been a girl or a desire to wear women’s clothes and makeup. Apparently he’s not saying that these days, but whether it’s because he doesn’t feel the same or because he’s in a Catholic-run institution where he’s shamed out of talking about it is unclear to his worker. So I don’t want to say that Jay is a transgender kid just because I don’t have any idea how he identifies or how he feels, but we’re open to the possibility that he might be. Similarly, even though Rowan at 15 is old enough that he probably has a good sense of his sexual orientation, I keep talking about him as “maybe gay” and similar things because it’s not my job as someone who’s never met him, never read his file to put him in some kind of box. Both of them have had plenty of bad things happen in their lives that have probably made it hard for them to figure out what it means to be a child, not to mention what it means to be a boy or a gay boy or transgender or whatever else!

Lee and I still have a lot to talk about in terms of being moms to gay or transgender kids. Sometimes it can be harder on those kids to have two moms because that raises the question of, well, if your moms are gay then are you gay too? (Similarly, we do know someone named Gaye and she’s one of the only people I know who does come out every time she introduces herself because she says “Hi, I’m Gaye! And yes, I actually am!” but I don’t know if that’s because it fits her personality or because she’s grown into having to have that conversation.) But we’re not going to take ourselves out of the running just because we don’t personally know what it’s like to be 10 and transgender or even a teenager with a crush on a boy. I’ve talked a lot here about the overrepresentation of black kids in the foster care system and the importance of finding safe and supportive homes for them. LGBT kids are also seriously overrepresented and it’s harder to find accepting homes for them. Even though one of us is more hesitant than the other, we’ve both decided that we are willing to do the extra work to be that kind of home.

When we were asked at our training this weekend what would be helpful for next year’s program, one woman said that in the last year she’s had several gay or bisexual teens placed with her and that she’s never had any training on how to deal with that. Many other parents nodded, and several visibly bristled uncomfortably. This is something our state doesn’t seem to be dealing with well at this point, but it’s very much a reality they’re going to have to deal with. I have no idea where they’re headed with that, but at this point I don’t even know where we’re headed. There are a lot of people trying to do the right things, and we want to play our part. That may or may not mean actually parenting Jay, but it certainly means being willing to parent a child who might be like Jay might be, who might challenge our views of gender and identity and make us a little uncomfortable but who needs a home and isn’t going to be able to find one easily. So that’s part of what we’re trying to do.

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among the things I’m not writing about now

November 19, 2009

We went through our weekend training and now I’m on an adoption diet: not talking about the future, not talking about what needs to be done now, certainly not talking about our story and how weird it is that the state hasn’t seemed responsive to us. It was just ENOUGH, though I’m glad I went to the relationship skills workshop and I’m sure it will come in handy.

Lee managed to injure herself last week and so she’s down one hand until her stitches heal and her palm is back to normal, so she was even grumpier than she’d usually be at an adoptive training, which wasn’t really a plus from my perspective. It did mean she was awfully passionate when pleading her case for why she shouldn’t have to be so patient with people fairly high up in the state. We got some recommendations about what to do and who to talk to, a lot of reassurances that what we’ve been through with a problematic homestudy that still hasn’t been fixed etc. is not how things are expected to work.

There’s a 10-year-old boy we’d inquired about over the summer. Our worker Elizabeth read his file and made him sound like a lost cause, the kind of child who couldn’t function in a family setting. That may be the case. We also talked to his adoption specialist, though, and when she met us and heard what we were looking for he was her first recommendation. They agree on what his diagnoses are and maybe should be, but the futures they can see are completely different. He’s in a RTC about a mile from where I work, so I think we may try to meet him casually and talk to his workers and see what they think. We may go ahead and send our file in on him just because it takes so long to get any kind of response and our file might as well be somewhere, bad as it is.

Adopt America Network is still coming through with lots of promising kids, especially today. It doesn’t make sense that every other state has boys who fit certain profiles and ours doesn’t, especially as Lee was told in one of her trainings that 40% of the children available for adoption in our state are black and that black children are the least likely to be adopted by their foster families. I have no idea where and how they’re slipping through the cracks, but I know they’re out there floating around in the system and we just don’t know about it. If there are 800+ children available for adoption and let’s say 300 at the most listed on the website we can view, that’s a huge discrepancy.

I’ve emailed both our worker and my high school friend who’s a worker about having this 15-year-old for respite over Thanksgiving. I’m going to call him Rowan, but I have no idea whether he’s actually coming because no one has gotten back with me to say more than that she’ll get back to me later to work out details. So yeah, Thanksgiving is in a week and we may or may not have Rowan with us and he may or may not know we exist and I may or may not be the one who has to drive three hours each way to transport him, but it’s not as if we’d want to know any of this stuff more than a week out, right?

Oh, and our brand new shower is leaking. We knew that because it leaked into our dining room ceiling, though the good thing about 100-year-old plaster is that it’s happy to just reshape itself and dry in stalactites until the contractors can come over and sand it down and then go recaulk everything that needed to be recaulked. Except now it’s clearly been bleeding into our bedroom and some of the 100-year-old hardwood floor seems to be majorly damaged, so we have the contractor coming back tonight to see what’s gone wrong.

And did I mention that Lee cut her hand and is not being a very helpful patient and instead spending her time whining and/or pulling muscles by trying to dress herself one-handed? And did I mention I’m taking a break from thinking about adoption or imagining our future to focus on myself right now? That second part is not entirely accurate, but it’s been what I need and I’m enjoying the break. I’m still reading all my beloved blogs, though, and I’ll say more here when I have more to say.

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in the church’s defense…

November 8, 2009

I wrote my last post about how I feel about the stud and femme events, but obviously they aren’t for me. I’m not saying the church needs to cater to its white atheist contingent of one; what they’re doing are meeting needs the community has and I’m just a little bothered by the way that’s happening. But when I wrote that I don’t care how people identify, what I meant is that I don’t care that they identify, not that I’m going to call anyone by the pronoun that’s not preferred or judge them on how they measure up to some abstract “femme” standard or whatever. I think it’s great that there’s this church right here in River City that’s largely lesbian (or same-gender-loving, as the church calls it, which again is nice because it talks about the action rather than the orientation, so these people could consider themselves bi, gay, whatever, and I may oversimplifying by calling them lesbians exactly like I feel they’re misreading me by thinking I’m femme) with a sprinkling of gay men and transwomen and a huge, huge, huge contingent of kids. I think it’s probably serving a healing purpose for the members of the church who’ve been rejected by the mostly Baptist or Pentecostal churches of their youth to be able to take back that experience and make something new and positive out of it that fits their reality now.

The stud/femme brunches started because the pastor has recently gotten married and her wife will be living here full-time when she finishes her own divinity degree. So I gather the idea was that the church would sort of throw bachelor/bachelorette parties for them, or at least the church version where everyone sits around for hours chatting and eating. There must have been some backroom drama because there needed to be an announcement at church that the femme brunch was open to anyone who identified as feminine or female, which I think meant some of the gay men might have been unsure whether they were welcome, since there were transwomen as organizers of the event. At any rate, it was a way for people to do something special for the new first lady (which is a term Lee hates, but which we’re informed is common for the pastor’s wife in Pentecostal churches, which are outside both of our backgrounds) and for the pastor who founded and has often defined the church. While I still didn’t want to go to the femme brunch, I could see what it was doing and why.

And here’s the part where I have to confess that I’m probably the one with the problem, the one who can’t take off my sociologist hat. I notice things like that Lee and I seem to be unusual in referring to each other as partners. Most people are either “girlfriends” or “spouses”/”wives” (or, in many cases a “my wife”/”my spouse” duo, and thinking about that makes me feel like I ought to be more sensitive to studs’ preferences) and we’re not really that. But this also isn’t a church for me and my needs, though it should be meeting Lee’s. I’m not complaining that the church is doing these things, because it’s another way to let its constituents have the roles in the church that they may have thought they’d have to give up when they came out. (And I’ve told Lee that I think some of the speaking-in-tongues stuff is probably an aspect of that, too, that there may be something about reclaiming something they see as part of worship from the Christians who would reject them, which is part of why I’m not uncomfortable with it the way she is.) I just don’t want to be pushed into something I don’t want to do, but I shouldn’t really worry about that when I have a strong enough personality to keep that from happening.

So I know I was setting up the last post to get comments saying “Wow, how weird!” and I do think it’s weird and I don’t think any of the comments were disrespectful. I mean, I think it’s kind of weird! Lee and I did talk about whether she should be offended that people kept hassling me about going to the femme brunch but no one asked her if she was interested; they all are sure they know our identities already. But I also think it’s probably not as bad a thing as I make it sound because I do think it’s giving people what they want, and church should do that as well as challenge them to do other things they might not want to, right? So as long as there’s not compulsory heteronormativity and I get to just keep being myself, I’m still along for the ride, though Lee at this point is planning to skip church to watch football. And in the eyes of the church and the world, that probably makes her masculine, but I think she’s just sports-obsessed and lazy! But she’s also adorable and willing to stand up for what she wants to do, which is why I’m glad she’s my partner in all of this.

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