Archive for April, 2010

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timing

April 30, 2010

I was sort of cranky for no reason yesterday, or maybe cranky because work’s been exhausting and my body was aching and I did chores before work and went all the way to Trader Joe’s after work but then wasn’t really captivated by much and then came home to find Lee sleeping, only to have her wake up and ask me to make dinner at 8:00, when I was ready to go to bed.

There’s been a meme making the rounds where one of the things you say about yourself is how you react when the alarm goes off. I can’t handle an alarm. I get stressed out knowing it’s going to be ringing and so I wake up all night to see how much longer I have to sleep. Instead, I wake myself up at whatever time the first one of us needs to be out of bed. That’s usually been Lee lately now that she’s teaching some earlier classes, but that means I get up at 6:00, go down and make her coffee, feed the cat and dog, and then maybe come back to bed to remind her that it’s now 6:15, now 6:30…. Then eventually she’s out of the shower and I can hop in, because I’m generally faster at getting ready for work than she is. We scoot out and our day begins, but sh’es realized it’s sort of stressful for me to have to keep reminding her what time it is when she’s not getting up at her chosen time.

So yesterday the goal was that I’d wake her at 6:30 and she’d pop right out of bed and get going. She got as far as the bathroom when I started feeling guilty I hadn’t made her coffee (because if I don’t do it, she tends to not make it for herself and instead goes and buys some on her way to work, which is wasteful when we have it here!) and so I went downstairs to do that and then remembered I had to sweep up because the cat had broken a glass the night before. I ended up sweeping and then steam-mopping the whole kitchen, even moving the fridge and stove so I could get beneath them. The floor was gleaming, though of course that didn’t last long and I dropped onions on it while cooking dinner and had a bunch of flowers fall when I got back from the grocery. I don’t know if this is all part of some nesting urge or spring cleaning or guilt or what, but I’m sure I was tired because of that too.

So today when I was getting ready to leave, Lee said that she expected some good news today. I think she then went into the office and emailed our Adopt America Network worker Ali (yes, I’m changing her pseudonym to sound more feminine) just to push that along. Ali wrote back that there’s going to be a staffing next week to decide whether we’re officially matched with Eddie. They may need Elizabeth to participate somehow, may even need us. They’ll be getting us more information soon.

And “soon” is a big word here. I mean, as Dawn pointed out after my last post, if Eddie’s going to visit in June (maybe) that’s the June that comes right after the month that starts tomorrow. And I guess the answer to that is something we’ll sort out next week. I assume if we’re matched officially, we can start the process of actually getting to know him, first by talking to the professionals who deal with him and then probably even by talking to him.

It’s amazing to me to think that it hasn’t even been six months since we were going through parts of this same process with Rowan. We weren’t going through the matching process the same way because his parents’ rights hadn’t been terminated (still haven’t, as far as I know, though I’m not kept up-to-date on his case anymore) and we were having our first halting telephone calls to let him know what he was getting himself into in coming to visit us.

I know Lee is really hung up on the fact that it’s been almost two years since we started this whole process and she thinks that’s way too long for people who are actively looking for kids who are overrepresented (black boys) but I’m not as bothered by that. She’s also always believed that things happen when they’re supposed to and so I think she’s happy enough with this on that front. We’re a healthier and stronger couple than we were when we began the process, in part because we’ve had to have so many hard discussions and support each other through the time. I think it’s largely because we had such a positive connection with Rowan and because Elizabeth wrote it up so well in her yearly review that Eddie’s workers think we could be good for him.

I don’t believe there’s anyone magically making this happen behind the scenes, but I think we’re able to build what we’ve lived into something good. I may be tired, but I have options and I have hope.

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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I…”

April 28, 2010

Much of the reason I was being cryptic before is that something not related to adoption came out of nowhere and made me reevaluate what we’re up to. I was one of a few people who do my job who were asked to consider moving halfway around the world for several months to start up an office there. This is what I’ve been wanting to do the whole time I’ve been doing my job, and the toxic office environment lately has really been getting to me, so this was very appealing. I was looking into the options, figuring out what would be doable in terms of being away from Lee for months at a time (or bringing her with me for the summer months when she’s not teaching) and we’ve talked about it a lot. That was where we came up with the plan to change our adoption timeline if we needed to. I’ll hear in a few weeks what the final opportunity is on this job prospect, but I’m no longer as excited and optimistic about it as I was initially.

The reason for that is that we heard more about Eddie. We didn’t hear anything about a date for a staffing, but we got even better news. His workers loved the homestudy update Elizabeth wrote and they’ve gotten tentative permission to fly him out here once he’s finished with school so he can spend a few days in our house and we can all decide that this adoption is what we really want. His workers seem to think we’re the right match, and apparently Claudia does too. Eddie is old enough that he should get some degree of say in his adoptive placement, so it’s good that he’ll get the chance to decide whether we’re what he wants. His workers also think he’s strong enough and has a good enough support system that if we don’t think we can appropriately meet his needs, he’ll understand that and respect it and be able to process it. I’m thrilled that this is even on the table. I know how much we learned about Rowan in a weekend with him, and how he was able to recognize that he’s not ready for family living. Eddie isn’t like him in that regard, I think, but I hope he’d fit into our family as easily.

So yeah, instead of having no idea what I’ll be doing this summer, I suddenly have a lot of options. If it comes down to it, I’m going to choose being a mother over having a more interesting and satisfying job, and I know that. I know that may mean I end up with neither, but I think I’ll be able to deal with that too. For now, it really does feel good just to know that people in authority think I’m good enough to do the things I think I can do. I hope I’ll get the chance to prove at least some of them right!

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in the land of what-ifs

April 25, 2010

Adopt America Network should have all our paperwork by now. I assume the things that need to be sent to Eddie’s workers have been sent. I have no idea what will happen next. I mean, I know they’re supposed to schedule a staffing and then we’ll hear how that goes, but I don’t know what the timeframe is and what our odds are.

I’ve been muddling through a lot of things in my head, though not doing a whole lot to write them out here. That may continue for a while, so this is fair warning that you may not hear from me much!

We’re weighing a lot of options, talking about what we want to be doing with our lives. I’ve been going through some mopey times and I think I’m finally coming around to being more productive on a lot of levels.

Last night we had dinner with another professor from Lee’s school and his wife at the great newish restaurant in Our Town. Then Lee and I stopped off at the bar around the corner from our house and each had one drink (and bought one for our next-door neighbor, who had walked down there with his umbrella and raincoat, to thank him for helping us rid our crabapple tree of tent caterpillars) and chatted about things. We were plenty surprised when our homestudy worker, Kate, showed up with three of her friends. They’d been drinking pitchers of margaritas at the local Mexican restaurant and now were out to do some more drinking. She was happy to see us and told her friend the placement worker that we’d be a great family resource. The placement worker was all excited, but it turns out she just works with infants.

Because I couldn’t resist, I said, “Oh, you’re certainly celebrating tonight! I think Kate must have been drinking when she wrote our homestudy too!” and I played it off as if it had been a joke and they both laughed. Seriously, though, at least some of the mistakes would make sense if that were the case. Kate said we should pretend we’d never seen her at the bar (though it’s not as if social workers aren’t allowed to drink, I know) and was disappointed that we didn’t want to stick around to drink shots with her, but we didn’t and so we came home.

If we restart the adoption process, if we have a chance for a do-over, we won’t be working with the state directly. I just don’t know what we’ll be doing instead. I don’t know what our best options are. I just know that they’re not what we thought they were when we started out almost two years ago.

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and they’re off!

April 20, 2010

When Lee got to her office this morning, our homestudy was sitting in her fax inbox (which she shares with the rest of the division, so it’s good that she was the one who got there first). I haven’t seen the documents, but apparently they are: the assessment of us over the last year, now rewritten slightly to only name Lee as the resource parent; an addendum of 11 items corrected from our first homestudy; a summary of the numbers of hours of training we’ve had since beginning our classes last year (44 for me and 42 for her); and a letter dated February saying that we’re conditionally approved until 2011 but will have our approval revoked if they don’t get a copy of my health form (with a note there signed by our worker Elizabeth that my health form is in since January).

That letter is basically the problem. It lists both of us (with my name spelled wrong, but that’s the most minor point) and I thought that was where we ran into trouble in being listed as a couple initially. I’ve emailed Elizabeth to ask what’s up with this and whether we can get something that shows Lee actually is approved and it’s not conditional on anything. But I’m not waiting; we’re sending out the files to our AAN worker today so she can get them to the other state. I hate that it’s not perfect, but this is what we’ve got.

Meanwhile, I did indeed stop off and drop our release paperwork at Elizabeth’s office. I don’t know whether most social services offices let the person at the window have huge neck/chest tattoos, but ours does and so I dropped our papers with someone it would be very easy for me to identify and then I went off to work. Well, first I stood around in line while other people asked about their food stamps, but then I dropped my papers and hit the road.

So that’s where we stand. This stuff is out of my hands, and maybe that means I won’t be plagued with dreams like the one last night where we had to attend the staffing but we got sent to the wrong room and then some social worker drove us around in a van with women who’d gone to high school with me and who now wanted to adopt and tried to talk to us about poverty while one of the women explained that these poor neighborhoods had nothing on the Brazilian garbage dump where she’s done her research (true story!) and meanwhile Lee and I panicked about not being in the room for the staffing. Well, even in my dreams, probably I was the only one panicking! But I don’t have to do that now. Now I just wait and keep checking in to make sure other people have what they need and are doing what they need to do. So maybe there’ll be room to panic a little bit yet!

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update update

April 19, 2010

Lee told me she’d decided not to call downstate until tomorrow, but when she got out to her car after work she realized she’d gotten a message from the woman she’d spoken to there. This woman believes our whole file is completed and she’s ready to fax it, though she couldn’t remember Lee’s fax number. Lee called back and left a message. Supposedly the files will be faxed tomorrow. We’ll believe that when you pry them out of our cold, dead hands, but if it’s the case then Lee will be able to send it right to AAN and be done with this part of the process. If.

I’ll also stop off on my way to work and drop the informed consent releases in person for Elizabeth. I feel very fortunate that we live so close to our regional headquarters that I could walk there, though that’s not what I’ll be doing. Still, it’s convenient and it also makes it easy for her to come see us when it’s time for her to do her visits. Speaking of that, since our last one was in January, I think we’ll be due for her in the next month or so. As long as there’s no child in our house, we earn a visit every 3 months, supposedly.

Lee and I are toasting our successes and drowning our sorrows in some good Spanish cheeses and olives we picked up at the farmers’ market (which has little shops as well as the crops the actual farmers bring in) and then later I’ll make dinner. We’re enjoying our time and our easy sleep now while we have it, hoping that one way or another we’ll see things change later.

Oh, and this is as good a time as any to say that this kid is code-named Eddie for blog purposes. He’s 14, nearly 15, which means if he does come to us, there probably won’t be time between his time with us and when he turns 18 for us to do any of the complex legal shenanigans we’d sort of hoped for to do a second-parent adoption, not currently legal in our state (though it was in a gray area when we first started our adoption plans). If he ended up with us, he’d be legally Lee’s child and we’d just be putting together a patchwork of legal and other paperwork to cover my rights as best we can. If we do another adoption, we’ll redo the whole homestudy (and NOT work through our state directly, now that we know what we’re up against!) so that I can be the legal parent. We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got. That’s how it goes.

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updates?

April 19, 2010

We haven’t heard from our worker Elizabeth today. I don’t think either Lee or I have had a chance to call the office downstate either. In theory, our new update should be done and on its way to being filed. (Oh, wait, I mean Lee’s new update that is written properly so that I’m just an unrelated adult. You know, not that I’m bitter!) I have no idea if this is actually the case, but we were able to send a copy of what Elizabeth had written about us (the “couple” version, though I think the problem is not that she wrote about us as a couple in her narrative but that she filled out the top paper that way) to Adopt America Network and our worker there.

That worker is great. I’m not sure if I should give her a pseudonym, but I’ll go ahead and do that and call her Al, since those are her initials and people who work with AAN might want to know who she is. Can I do that and not have everyone think she’s a boy? Maybe I’ll make it Ali or something if it becomes problematic in the future.

At any rate, Al has already called Elizabeth today. She’s also talked to this 14-year-old’s recruitment worker, who has a copy of our old homestudy and will maybe be getting this next piece Elizabeth wrote that was rejected on a technicality if Al can’t find anything better. The recruitment worker is trying to put together a staffing — which could mean just for us or could mean there’s an other family or families being considered — and she will be allowed to do that based on our outdated homestudy, but they’ll need an active homestudy to be able to proceed from there if we’re selected. We already know basic data about this boy and we’re definitely interested. He deserves a stable and loving home and at this point we’d be thrilled if it could be ours.

As far as I can tell, the way the staffing works is that all the interested parties — our worker Elizabeth, his workers, his Court-Appointed Special Advocate, maybe even his therapists or foster parent — will sit down and go over what his needs are (with Elizabeth phoning in, obviously). Then they’ll talk about our strengths and our needs, how well we could match with him. While race can’t legally be a deciding factor, it can’t hurt that in our case it’s the potential legal mom who’s the same race as the boy in question. Because he’s been waiting for an adoptive home for two years, it’ll probably be okay that we’re in another state, but that huge move is something they have to justify too. If there’s another family, they do a family evaluation for them, too. And then the people who have to make a decision about this boy’s future will do just that, decide whether any of the families they’ve looked at are the right placement for this boy.

I’m really relieved to hear that all of this can happen even if our state doesn’t get its act together on the paperwork front. What I hope will happen is that everything is getting sorted out today and we’ll have our updates to them by the end of the week, but I’ve learned my lessons about being optimistic. I’m just glad we won’t be automatically rejected because we don’t have our paperwork. But if we’re rejected because our paperwork is substandard, outdated, incomplete I’ll definitely still feel bad!

I’ve just sent Lee a message asking if she can bother the woman downstate again and see if there’s been any progress on getting the accurate information filed. The good news is that Al is keeping information channels open with the other state and they understand (to some extent, at least) what’s going on with our file. I really, really hope this works out. We’re doing what we can to make that so, but there are definitely limits to what we can do. So for now we push to get what we need and wait until it gets done. And then once it’s done, we’ll wait to find out whether we’ve been selected. And after that, who knows? I hope to find out.

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ridiculous!

April 16, 2010

It’s Friday and I’m home sick from work, though the good news on that front is that we figured out why I’m totally exhausted and sick to my stomach. (Turns out sometimes the side effects of generic drugs are pretty different from the drugs those generics replaced. Yeesh.)

Anyway, today I’m really proud of Lee because she’s done an incredible amount of work into trying to get a copy of our homestudy. But I’m pretty furious at everyone else involved (except our support worker from Adopt America Network, who is being phenomenal) and if I weren’t too weak to bother I’d probably be weepy.

See, I filed our freedom of information request weeks ago. Lee finally called Wednesday asking if we’d get better progress if we just went down to the office at the state capital and hounded people until they gave us our homestudy. They informed her then that they’d already sent it. Well, when it hadn’t arrived today, she called again. This time, one woman said she had the study on her desk and didn’t know why it was there because she thought it had been sent, but she’d fax it to us so we could get it faster. She’d call back when that was ready.

When she did call back, though, it was with really bad news. When Elizabeth wrote her glowing analysis of our parenting skills and what we’ve done and learned over the past year, she did it as she would for any other couple she’s ever worked with. She wrote it up and filed it as “Thorn and Lee” except that because of the way state law works, we’re not a couple in a way that matters. Lee has a license to adopt. I am legally just a person who lives in her home and who needs to go through the homestudy process for that reason. I mean, it’s fine that she wrote all she did about my experiences with Rowan because the paperwork has always made it clear that our plan is to co-parent, but apparently referring to us as a unit somehow invalidated what she’d written.

No one had bothered to tell her or us this at any point in the process. It sounds like all she needs to do is rewrite her part and send it downstate with just Lee’s name on it, but who knows? They promised this would get done today, but I don’t know that it will. At this point, it’s going to be too late for them to fax something to Lee’s office and so instead they’ll be mailing it (if they truly do get it processed, which seems unlikely) and then we’ll send it from us to AAN. Argh!!

Our AAN worker is incredibly frustrated, though not with us. She’s afraid that the message we’ll be sending to the workers in the big southwestern state who think we’d be a good match for the boy in their care is that our state is inept and wouldn’t be able to offer us the support we need. Lee is stopping off to sign releases that give Elizabeth the right to talk about us in detail with our AAN worker and with these workers from the other state. But we’ve already made this state wait on our paperwork and now we’re asking them to wait longer, which we have to recognize means that if they find a better match for him they’ll have to go with that. (Admittedly, this is a state that’s known for its own bureaucratic ineptitude, so maybe they’ll be more sympathetic. I hope!)

We have a good advocate in our AAN worker. She’s willing to get us hooked up with a private agency if that’s what we need, which is something Lee had rejected before because it would take so long. I think this has given her some of the fire she needs to be committed to the process, though. Before we heard that they were interested in us for this boy, she was at the point of giving up. Now she’s not only motivated enough to spend much of the afternoon making phone calls, but she’s talking about relaxing her time deadlines if needed.

Yesterday we went to a furniture store to look at our options for our spare bedroom, which currently features a futon but should really have something more permanent if it’s going to have a permanent resident. Lee immediately said, “We’d better get a bunkbed in case Rowan comes to stay for a while too.” And just that was enough to lift my spirits again. She hasn’t seemed as committed to the idea of staying in touch with Rowan as I am, but when it comes down to the reality of it all, he does still have a place in her imagined future.

I just got off the phone with Lee, who’s headed to Elizabeth’s office to sign a bunch of release papers and maybe get some answers about what’s getting done when. I know our AAN worker is on the job. (Actually, Lee just called and had me email Elizabeth to ask her to mail us the paperwork instead. Apparently traffic’s bad and it’s raining and she doesn’t want to deal with it. Since Elizabeth had told us our email permission would suffice until we sign the papers, we should still be in the clear.) I’m extremely frustrated, but I am still hopeful. I’m glad that there are people (including Elizabeth) advocating for us who want to see this work. I just wish it weren’t such a mess.

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things change quickly sometimes

April 12, 2010

I said this morning that we were emailed a packet of information about this 14-year-old boy from a far-off state. We read it, though it’s from 2008 and kids do change a bit from age 12 to almost 15 and so it’s not entirely up-to-date! And there were no immediate red flags about this kid. He’s had some tough times in his past. He’s got some problematic behaviors that may be coping skills and may be just his personality. But he really does seem like a genuinely good kid.

Then this afternoon, I got a call at work from our worker at AAN asking for information about our homestudy and answering some of the questions we’d had about things that were unclear in the kid’s writeup. She’s talked to his worker and to his area’s recruitment coordinator (a frequent collaborator with Claudia, I gather) and it’s because they were interested in what they saw in our old, flawed, expired homestudy that they were sending us this information. So we’re in the gate.

I emailed our worker Elizabeth this afternoon, though it turns out she’s out of the office and won’t get it until tomorrow. She and our AAN worker and this boy’s worker will need to get together and see if the out-of-state workers can get information on us so they can make a more official decision. Again, I’m reading between the lines, but I get the impression that as long as there’s nothing drastically wrong in our new study (and there’s not! I’ve read Elizabeth’s analysis of our last year and it’s great!) they’ll be interested in pursuing this as a match. I’ll work tonight on writing his workers a new letter of introduction and sending a few more photos.

I don’t know if that was The Call, but it certainly left me tingly and optimistic. This kid seems to have a lot in common with Rowan in terms of interests and personality. Our experience with Rowan will probably be a point in our favor if they do want to match us with him. I know there’s a lot about Rowan in our writeup and I’ll mention our ongoing commitment to him in the letter I send to the kid’s workers. I’d told Rowan in the letter he got from me last week that even though we’re a foster home now, the kids who are in our home won’t change our level of commitment to him and our interest in being mentor/support figures for him. I’m not sure he believes that, but at least he’s heard it and it sets the stage for whatever comes later.

Lee just sent me an email saying that if we do go through with placement of this kid (which would involve his workers and their supervisors officially signing off on us; our getting all the information we want and saying that yep, we’re interested; both state’s systems figuring out what the details of transfer would be and what worker would check in on him while he was here before the adoption was finalized and report back to his home state) we’ll have our bedrooms filled and will no longer be able to be a resource for Shasta’s daughter Kara at all. Unless we move to a bigger house, which we’ve talked about doing but which sounds like a hassle. (Though my brother and his girlfriend would be willing to rent ours and cover the mortgage for a year or two, and yes I do think this far ahead in hypotheticals sometimes!) And yes, the reality is that certain futures preclude certain other futures. But if we get to the point of choice, I think we’d both choose the potential of a lifelong familial relationship with this boy over the possibility of being a short-term home for Kara, who’d also have to be pulled out of state and have her life disrupted only to go back to her home community if all goes well. But we’ll make that decision when we have to. There are lots of smaller steps before we get there, and today we’ve only taken the first one.

Still, wow!!!

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because everything I write needs clarification

April 12, 2010

I couldn’t leave that last post alone without writing more. Specifically, I want to talk about Shasta and her daughter Kara. But I don’t want to talk about them too much because there’s a lot up in the air and I want to respect their privacy. Still, I feel I need to be clear that we have no interest in adopting Kara. We would be willing to be a home for Kara and work with her with the intention of having her go back to her mother Shasta’s care. And yet all of us know that we wouldn’t be the ones who got to control the situation if it got to the point where Kara was in fact in foster care, so this is by no means ideal.

It’s also probably extra complicated by the fact that Lee and Shasta aren’t legally sisters, though they are biologically. Thanks to Lee’s adoption, she’s legally Shasta’s aunt, though that still leaves her in a position where she’d be considered a familial placement. I just think this is weird, but that’s how adoption works here and now. I imagine their state’s DCS is used to dealing with complicated families and this wouldn’t seem as strange to them as it does on paper.

At any rate, there’s no plot in play to wrench Kara away from the family she knows and move her out-of-state to live with two women she’s only talked to over the phone. We’re here as a safety net so that if she’s taken out of her home she’s able to live with people who know (and are!) her family, but that’s the extent of it. If Shasta decides to go forward with allegations against her mother, we’re all going to want to make sure she’s had good legal advice before making a decision. But if it turns out to not be Shasta’s decision and the state gets involved through some other means, we’re ready. So there’s that.

Oh, and we got a lot more information about the out-of-state teen boy Claudia had told us about. There are no red flags about him in the paperwork, but it’s a situation where I don’t understand why he’s available for out-of-state adoption. I wish people closer to home were able to step up to the plate for him. I hope there’s nothing keeping them from doing that. I don’t know. It’s messy, and I’d hoped not to wade into this sort of ethical messy zone. But if he does need a home and we are a home…? Yeah, that’s where it stands.

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rough weekend; on “doing enough”

April 12, 2010

Lee and I are having a hard time, which is always what happens at this point of the academic term. Actually, it’s getting better this week, which again is always what happens. She doesn’t deal well with certain kinds of stress and I don’t deal well with having to hold up too much of what should be joint burden, and eventually bleh. We both get mopey and prickly and annoyed. And then it gets better, which is the part we’re at now.

But I’m scared. Everything about fostering/adoption seems so precarious, like she could pull out her support at any moment even though she’s promised me she’ll wait until October to do so. I know that’s mostly a response to what her moods have been like lately. (“Let’s aim for two kids!” “Let’s forget about parenting and move overseas!” “I hate my job and want to do something else entirely!” “You should go back to school!” “I love teaching these kids and would never want to leave academia!” Yeah.)

But Friday we got a request from our worker Elizabeth about a 17-year-old girl who might be needing foster care. She engages in some mild and not self-destructive illegal activities and she’s manipulative. She’ll be aging out of care for a few months, and there was going to be a decision about whether she’s go to her relatives or a foster home. Elizabeth wanted to know whether we’d be interested and Lee flipped out, though luckily that wasn’t how she responded to Elizabeth.

My take is that we’re open to school-aged children and so any time there’s a school-aged child with no identified home, I assume we’re going to hear about it. Elizabeth has said we should take our time and make sure we’re making the right decision and not feel guilty about saying no. Our guideline has been that there should be something about a child that makes us think, “Yes, this sounds good!” to make us interested in saying Yes, though we’ll ask for more information if we at least think, “Hmm, this sounds doable.”

Lee, though, thinks that the fact that Elizabeth offered us a girl (not a boy!) who’s about to turn 18 (and thus will never be adoptable) means that Elizabeth has no sense of what we’re looking for and is not being an effective advocate for us. She thinks we don’t have a social worker who understands us and our preferences. (I strongly disagree and we just got a copy of what Elizabeth wrote about us for this year’s homestudy, though we still don’t have the whole thing, and her analysis seems accurate.) She also thinks it’s too late to try to find a new social worker, which is probably true given our current timeline. So she was feeling like “this will never work” and that there was no point caring.

This response really, really got to me, and I’m trying not to take it personally. The other part that hit me hard was that Lee said, “This girl will probably end up pregnant and THEN what would they want us to do?” and I was just furious. I mean, we don’t know that she’s straight, that she’s sexually active, that she’s not on long-term birth control, and that’s the first assumption Lee makes? But yeah, Lee really, really wants a boy and I think I need to keep that in mind more than I have. We’re not as flexible as I may think we are.

And Lee also said, “You know, if this doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. At least we’ll know we did all we could.” And that’s where we differ. I can think of a million things we could do more or better — starting out doing foster care, staying in the pool longer, being more active and making more connections — and I was definitely bitter about this because I’ve done so much more than she has. I know she’s making the best decision for herself, that she would indeed have a hard time hanging onto abstract information and that she’s also telling the truth when she says she’d learn whatever she had to for a kid in our care. With Rowan and with LeeLee, she was great. And yet!

So I’m frustrated now. We’re still waiting on our paperwork and can’t proceed with any kind of interstate matching without it. We’ve pretty much given up on being matched with kids who are on the photolistings in our state, though I should probably look again and get Elizabeth to make phone calls and get profiles just in case. I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to give in. I don’t think I’ve done all I can. And Lee knows that if we end up not parenting, I’m going to need to grieve a lot. I’m only 30 and I’ve put so much time and energy into this preparation that I really, really want to do this much more than I did when we began the process.

But even if we do have to give up, I think we’ll be keeping our license and maybe even doing respite. We talked to Rowan last week and he’ll be leaving his RTC in May. He still hopes to enter an independent living program when he turns 16 in the fall (well, he wants to be emancipated, but I think he realizes that’s not going to happen) and he’ll have to live with a family in the interim. We know he doesn’t want to come back to our region and come to us, but we’ll be here if he changes his mind or if his needs change. And then there’s Shasta, Lee’s bio dad’s youngest daughter. Shasta’s daughter Kara is almost 12 and Shasta hasn’t had her rights terminated but she signed over permanent guardianship to her mother, which means she has no way of getting those rights reinstated. While it sounds like Kara is not in any danger and is not being hurt and while I’m pretty sure that with what we know right now we have no reason to consider our mandated reporting obligations, we do believe that adults around Kara are making some unsafe and unwise decisions. At some point soon if this continues, Shasta may file a complaint that could result in getting Kara removed from the grandmother’s home. Shasta’s been hesitant to do that because she wants to keep Kara out of foster care, but knowing she can say, “I have a sister out-of-state who has an active foster license” and there’d be a good chance that Kara would be sent to us means that Shasta is looking into this possibility more seriously. If the guardianship were deemed unsafe, it might be possible for her to get her parental rights back now that her life is safe and stable. Both Lee and Shasta are interested in this possibility. There’s a lot about it that’s scary, but it’s on the table.

I’m putting all that at the end to remind me that we do have hope in a lot of regards that we’ll get to be parental in meaningful ways, even if those end up being temporary. If all else fails, I still expect to be a resource for Rowan. And I know that if we got an email this Friday about a teen who needed a home, Lee might come up with the same “No, thanks!” response but I think she’d come at it with less anger and more understanding. I’m just writing this because writing often helps me be less frustrated with her, and because it’s easier to write about the hard parts when they’re not quite as hard at the time of writing. We’re still here and still holding on, but it’s difficult sometimes.

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