(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.