little steps, a little movementSeptember 17, 2012
From what I’ve heard, there are no longer any kinship care options for Nia. That means that either her mom will work hard and be able to regain custody, which the professionals on the case think would take the better part of a year, or she won’t be able to do what she needs to do, in which case next summer the state would file to terminate her rights. Either way, it looks like Nia is going to be with us for the duration of the school year, which is great from an academic standpoint. (And realize that anything I say now about timing and outcomes could turn out to be very different from what actually happens, because fostering is like that.)
For some reason, that news or the way it was phrased hit Lee hard. She’d still been very much in the mindset of “When Nia goes to family…” especially as it relates to “When Nia goes to family, Mara is going to be devastated.” We’d talked about whether we’d be willing to foster again (probably not, though with the understanding that we’re always open to a member of Mara’s family who needs help) but not explicitly about whether we’d want to adopt Nia. I mean, I know how I feel, but it’s taken Lee a while to get around to it. She still is having a hard time balancing how easy it was for her to love and accept Mara as a 3-year-old with how much harder it is to have that kind of unlimited love even for a wonderful and lovable 6-year-old who’s going to be having attitude and testing boundaries because that’s what she’s supposed to be doing. So Lee had put up that “when” as a safety mechanism, and having it broken down has done a number on her.
She knows she loves Nia and she knows that Nia fits our family well, but she gets frustrated with how much backtalk is part of being 6 and how shoes don’t seem to end up where they belong, though Nia’s fantastic about cleaning up when she’s reminded. Mara has been going through a somewhat defiant stage (involving a hilariously over-the-top “Never!” when you ask her to do something; I think she needs a mustache to twirl!) and on a daily basis it’s both rewarding and frustrating to have one or both of the girls. But for Lee, this is still all scary and a stretch, and I try to be sensitive to that.
She and I had a date (!) this weekend and talked about how we feel. I reminded her that we don’t have to make any decisions about permanency until the state asks us to do that. I should have reminded myself that Lee doesn’t like ambiguity. I was trying to give her room to make the decision, but what she feels she needs is to make a decision and let it grow on her. So she says that if we get to the place where we’re being asked to adopt, she wants Nia to stay rather than have to move again. She recognizes that in another few months, this is going to stop feeling like we’re Lee-Thorn-Mara Plus One and that this will be our new normal. So mentally, we have a plan, though I of course am still living in the ambiguity and will make sure not to hold her to that choice if the decision time actually comes.
And hey, Lee and I had a date while a babysitter watched the girls! I was going to post about church stuff, but our assignment for therapy is to talk about what our ideal church attributes would be and try to find something that will match them better so that Lee can take a more proactive role but one that I feel comfortable about. In the mean time, the girls spent one Sunday on our friends’ farm picking grapes and cooking them down to make jelly and the next running around the neighborhood in fancy clothes, adding to their cicada shell collection. Any church I’d be okay with would respect the kind of joy they find in nature, so that counts for something. We’re not jumping into anything new, but working behind the scenes. I think it’s that kind of season.