Officially unofficial

Last week was our last visit with the social worker for a while. It feels weird to not have her name on the calendar but it also feels nice to know the balls are really rolling. We reviewed the family profile that she had written and it was mostly presentable. Considering I write similar profiles for a living I had some feelings about her word choices and structure but oh well. There were some glaring issues like:

  • B read a book and decided she was a lesbian
  • C has always been a lesbian. His sexual identity is now male.
  • B was in “xyz” club. “Xyz” is the name of my high school. 

These things were weird and C changed her words immediately on the profile report. I waited until Monday after giving it a lot of thought and I wrote her the exact thing I wanted her to put in the report regarding when I realized I was a lesbian. The worker is actually really great and when she found out about our LGBT status she was glad to hear it. I think she just didn’t know how to write about gender identity and sexual orientation. 

So, now the report goes to DHS and we wait to be licensed. We expect this to take a few weeks. We are being licensed as adoptive parents not foster. 

This means we’ll get kids they expect are heading for their parents rights being terminated. We are ok with this though I was initially upset they weren’t going to let us care for short term placements. I’ve now wrapped my head around this being ok and we’ll roll with it. There are kids out there somewhere who need us, preferable in the 6-16 age range. We decided while doing the profile that we can’t deal with daycare. It doesn’t work for our wallets, our schedules, or our energy level. So no babies for us- unless they are part of an older sibling set. Our friends have been collecting items for us so we have all the things for an emergency infant placement just in case.

June 28-30 we’ll be in the Pocono mountains at a water park for the annual permanency conference. I’m so looking forward to meeting other LGBT foster parents and people in our area. We are alone in this adventure but I’ve made a few online friends. One woman lives a few miles from us and a lesbian couple used our agency and live in Philly. I’m branching out! We need foster parent friends so this helps. The internet is an amazing resource for meeting people. At the conference we will take several work shops and learn about various parenting methods as well as legal issues to prepare for. This is definitely my domain- the learning part of things.

We also have to take 16 hrs of adoption classes. Those are scheduled in July. That’s our last piece of the puzzle before we get referrals for kids. It seems so close and so far away simultaneously. We bought beds on Facebook Marketplace, way cheaper than getting them new at IKEA and they are the design we want. We need to assemble them and then we’ll be set in the “little kid” room. The teen/tween room is already set up. 

Folks. We are almost there! The finish line is just weeks away. 

Are your pants on fire?

I have this relative that I think most people have one of. She’s a compulsive liar. I think there is something deeper going on because she copies what other people are going through. I had a miscarriage and the next day so did she, allegedly. Her sister had a medical issue that fussed two of her organs, suddenly this person has a similar issue with her uterus. This woman lives off other people’s trauma. I’m glad we don’t live near each other because I’d probably punch her in the face.

So, back to me. On Thursday our relatives received their foster parent announcement cards. We got calls and messages and people are happy for us. Thursday night my lying relative posts on Facebook “we have finished our foster to adopt classes. We will meet our newborn son in 3-5 weeks when he is born. This is a closed foster to adopt.” And she included a sonogram photo. Her language for the situation seems inappropriate if she is closed adopting a newborn. There are so many flaws with this story that I could scream. 

She and her husband live in their car on a beach in Florida. Neither of them have steady jobs and he can’t get a legal job. His visa expired 2 years ago and he can’t renew it without risking deportation because he waited so long. This also means, to me, that they wouldn’t pass the background check. They did some shady illegal things last year and most people think there are warrants for their arrest. In what real world would the government approve them for children? I am so angry at her attempt to high jack my life.

My sister tried to probe her with comments but our relative was ducking her questions. Someone else commented “wow, the wait list for babies is very long in America, I’m surprised you’re jumping to the front of the list.” No response from fake-mom-to-be. The worst part that we all see coming is the explosion. What sob story will she create for why she didn’t get a baby in a few weeks? Will the mom change her mind, will the fake baby be stillborn, will she say she and her husband changed their minds? She’s using this excuse to get money and donations right now. It’s really sad. 

Not one relative posted a congratulations to her. That says something, no one believes the lie. Her friends are buying into it but her parents and siblings know better. She’s burned so many bridges by lying, stealing, and spontaneously moving across the country. No one wants to deal with her scams. Maybe I am too skeptical, maybe she is magically getting a newborn baby to adopt next month. We’ll see.

3 down and 1 to go

It looks like we are done meeting with the family development coordinator until she had our completed profile and is ready for the walk through. This month of sporadic visits was emotionally exhausting. I’m glad we are done with the crying and struggling with our own family trauma.

I am looking forward to seeing what our profile looks like in the end. Everything must be submitted to DHS by July 3rd and I think she’ll be done ahead of that timeline. Then we wait to be approved/licensed and we are on our way! I hope we present as an awesome couple who will give our best selves to help these children in the short or long term. 

Yesterday we sent out “we are foster parents” announcements to our immediate family. We’ll send some to friends who we don’t talk to often later this week when I get more stamps. We included statistics about foster care in Pennsylvania and I think it’ll help people to see the need for foster homes. 

We are going to the  SWAN 2017 Permanency Conference held in the Poconos in June. I’m looking forward to meeting other, hopefully local, foster parents. We need local friends who get it and can be supportive. Plus, it’s at a water park so we’ll be having fun no matter what. Ha ha.

In short: we will meet out case worker one final time before we get licensed. This will be the home inspection which I’m sure week be ok on. Bring on the awesome!

Social media

I recently had one of my clients friend request me on Facebook. This was the first time that had happened. I mean, after 40 years in prison, he gets out and discovered Facebook. He needed friends and who more appropriate than your legal team?! I asked him to respect the professional boundary and he was ok with it. Luckily it’s only happened once.

As we get closer to our foster care license I’m anxious about how accessible I am. This week I changed my privacy settings and Facebook name. Has anyone else done this? Am I being irrational that people (first/bio families) will look for me online? 

Something flipped my switch and I almost deleted Facebook…but I’m in several foster groups that I think are too useful to abandon. Ugh. This is how it starts, right? They suck you in and you can’t leave. Boo. I do feel better knowing my unique name will not be on Facebook. I’ve googled myself several times over the years to be sure there is nothing I don’t want out there. I cleaned up my entire internet identity a few years ago, getting comments on public sites removed, news articles taken down, and long lost profiles deleted. I am vigilant about presenting as a professional and I don’t want anything to stain my identity. Now I have the added concern of having angry people I don’t know possibly being able to find me online. Here is hoping I’ve sufficiently protected myself from stalkers.

How do you feel safe on the internet?

The unexpected trigger

For several years I knew that when someone said “I’m pregnant” I would smile but cringe and once I was alone I’d start to hate myself for not having given birth. I would somehow internalize my loved ones pregnancies as the universe telling me what a failure I was because “everyone else is doing it.” It has only been the last two years that I have been able to take this news and genuinely be happy for people without thinking about myself first.

It is hard initially to not think about the baby I would have had if I hadn’t miscarried, or all the failed IUIs and the huge chunk of change spent on medication and appointments in attempts to bring home a live baby. I feel that losing a pregnancy is not something that you move through in the blink of an eye. It’s been 6 years and I still cry about it, I still feel traumatized by having to wait it out rather than a D & C.

This week one of my good friends found out that they lost their pregnancy, during a routine scan there was no heartbeat. This is her first pregnancy after several IUIs and it’s devastating. We do not live local to one another so I think she felt safe talking to me about being pregnant and now about their loss. I hate that I can’t be there for her as I know what it is like to not have anyone local to you who understands what you’re going through.

I hadn’t expected that finding out someone I know lost a pregnancy would trigger me into feelings of sadness and loss. It’s almost Mother’s Day here in the USA and that’s an awful time to have to deal with a loss like this. I would definitely be feeling some feelings about not being a biological parent regardless but now I feel sucked into the thoughts of the kid that would have been. That loss changed my life. It made it very difficult for me to imagine being pregnant, I was paranoid and terrified. I’d get an anxiety attack whenever we inseminated and I was not prepared to deal with another long wait for a fetus to “expel.” That was when we knew it was over. I couldn’t handle the emotional toll that it took on me and I  was scared to death that I would become despondent if I had to go through another miscarriage.

We moved on. We let ourselves grieve and work through what it meant for us to not to have bio kids. Now we are fully engrossed in becoming foster parents. We are happy with our decision and look forward to welcoming young people into our home. When reading books about foster or adoptive parenting, I learned about addressing your biological kids grief so that you aren’t putting that on the children who you’ll be caring for. The children are not responsible for living up to the ideal child dream we have and cannot be expected to be the kid you thought you’d have. No one can predict what will trigger their feelings of loss but I try to put mine in perspective and not carry that over into parenting future children.

*keep my friend in your thoughts and prayers as she and her wife go through this awful time*

When will it stop

I am really stressed out about this whole parenting thing and we aren’t even doing it yet! I may be overloading myself on websites and literature related to foster care, adoption, and parenting the traumatized child. The logistics of day care/school, the general rules for when to introduce new people into a foster kids life, and how to prepare are home are a bit overwhelming. I wish I could shut my brain off and tackle one mind-stresser at a time. I tend to dive into new knowledge and then overthink it.

When we were trying to get pregnant I read so much about how to get and stay pregnant. I started blogging to connect with a community I hoped to one day be part of. Most of the people who were ttc when I was, have toddlers now or are newly pregnant. I can’t think of a single blog friend who “gave up” and is childfree by choice or switched gears to adoption. I have newer blog friends who went the infertility route before exploring foster care or adoption but we didn’t take this walk together. I have friends (shout out to you) who were ttc for some of the time that we were and who went the adoption route years before we even had a serious conversation about it. Family building is stressful and intense and a solo ride for the most part. At least that is how it feels right this minute. We don’t know anyone else who is in this transition. So I drown myself in books and try to relate to the stories. Speaking of books…

Billi Cole 7

We have our next visit with the social worker on Monday at 9am. It should be okay. We will be discussing our parents and marriage. I think I’m as mentally prepared as I possibly can be for these conversations. What’s the worst that can  happen? We end up crying about our own traumatic upbringing? It’s unlikely that she will “fail” us. haha.

Aunt 3x

My sister in law was induced on Wednesday night due to too much amniotic fluid. I don’t know the ins and outs of the issue but her medical folks felt they needed to get Maxine out so into labor she went. Yesterday my SIL was 37 weeks along so they felt it was safe. My niece was born at approximately 9pm EST and is doing well. She’s tiny- less than 6 pounds and only 19 inches. In Alabama you must stay in hospital for 48hrs while they perform “state tests” on your child. Not sure wtf that actually means but the new parents are happy to be in the center of attention in the hospital.

Mama wouldn’t allow photos of herself for the first 12hrs afterward but baby looks great!

My younger brother and his first child. 💜

I’m not there, which is sad, but I did see them a few weeks ago and will see them in a few months hopefully. They’re strange new parents so I likely wouldn’t be allowed to visit immediately anyway. I’m glad not to be in the mix of family drama and hurt feelings at the hospital. I can enjoy her arrival from afar. 

This is my 2nd niece and I also have a nephew. Man, I never thought my little bro would have a kid before me but it’s ok. I’m happy for them and for our journey. 

First meeting with FDC

Our Family Development Coordinator came over on April 12th. She is a nice woman who was easy to talk with. I wouldn’t say that we accomplished much but took care of necessary business. We filled out paperwork to complete clearances and received some information about child hard- specifically how to put a newborn to bed, how to use car seats, and keeping HIV+ childrens privacy. It was really informal and not as stressful as I’d imagined. 

On April 27 she will return to interview us about our parents and our marriage. That’ll be more interesting, I’m sure. Writing our autobiographies brought up a lot of stuff and I’m not looking forward to actually discussing it live with her. We didn’t exactly come out to her either. In my autobiography I mentioned previous relationships with women but C didn’t discuss his gender identity at all. We didn’t bring it up while filling out the clearance paperwork either, which I thought was a good time for C to mention it. I prompted him but he didn’t take the bait. I don’t like holding on to things when it’s important so hopefully the next meeting will be a better time to discuss it. 

For now, we get copies of important documents and get them to her asap. Nothing too strenuous. She said if all goes according to timeline, we’d get our first placement in August.

At church today we told some friends what we have been up to. Word of mouth is the best way to share info in my experience. Before we know it, everyone will know we are trying to be licensed foster parents.

Dream vacations

I am doing the 52 Lists Project book this year. We are in week 15 and my prompt was Dream Trips. Here’s my list!

I hope to go on some kind of non-family related vacation next year, with a kid or two. We’ll see how that plays out though. 

What are your dream trips? What do you like to do on holiday?
* keeping my mind busy since we have our first home visit on April 12*

Crafts and coming out

We have a friend that we love very much. Said friend will be taking photos for us later this week when we are in Tennessee. We have been figuring out our props and what we are looking for in the foster to adopt photo shoot. We decided to go with some cheesy announcement type things and some solo and couple shots. She’s a great photographer and I’m excited to see what we create together! This photo is our “puzzle”  that C created. Most likely you readers will see the photos sooner than anyone in real life as I don’t plan to tell outsiders, aka relatives, until we are in the final classes in July. 

Speaking of coming out to relatives about our foster-to-adopt plans..when do we tell our family development coordinator that we aren’t a straight couple? There isn’t a box to check on any of the paperwork and I don’t know when to spill it. Perhaps during our first in-person meeting? I wish there had been a place on the forms but oh well. On the websites that have child profiles several children listed themselves as ok with two moms or dads but none mention lesbian-trans parents. Perhaps we are that unique? What if kids think we are weird? Do we tell them from the beginning that I’m not a hetero woman but that C is a hetero transman? So many questions! We tend to only be out to our friends and not to our colleagues so we aren’t familiar with telling strangers our status. 

What would you do?