We have a date

On June 11, A moves in with us. After 6 months of visits we are making the transition to being a family. PA agreed to take custody of her and now the states are figuring out the transfer of her insurance and other administrative things. She will finish school on June 8th and then have the weekend to pack up and say her goodbyes. We are waiting to hear back from the school district about registration. There are so many administrative parent things I need to do!

I feel nervous more than anything. I’m anxious about her feelings and ability to relax and care for herself amidst all this. Everyone talks about letting kids have their feelings and learn to move through disappointment or difficult times. I don’t know how to watch her struggle like I think she will. After several years in the same home and her entire life in the same community, this is going to be hard. Though she knows us we aren’t as predictable to her as her foster mother. I worry about my own emotions as we adjust to adding a member to our daily lives but I worry about her more.

There have been issues with her foster mother recently opening up visits with her first family. On Monday we attended a hearing where the judge issued a stay away order against all natural relatives. He was clear the foster mom will face repercussions if she continues this contact. I think she is trying to give A space to say goodbye or whatever before she moves but it has likely been what has caused her regressing with us. I’m really annoyed that this contact started so close to her moving in with us. We can never compete with the love for her family and we wouldn’t even try. But we do need to bond with her and help her feel secure in our family.

I am going to be a mother person but I bristle when someone calls me mom. Is that normal? I don’t ever expect A to call me mom so other people saying that is weird.

This photo was taken on a dog walk last weekend.

Advertisements

Good News from every direction

Friends, life has been great lately. No one says a great life is easy or relaxing, though. I am one tired woman!

First of all I am wait-listed for graduate school. The college gave me the option to wait and see if I got in or to enter in the fall as a non-matriculated student. Essentially they are giving me one semester to prove myself as a student and if I make the grades, I will be able to enroll as a traditional student in January. I am going to take their offer as the courses are what I would be taking in the first semester anyway and the grades will count towards the degree anyway. I can do this!! I am going to be a social worker one day. Ugh, I even hate typing that, but I think it’s something I will be good at and it’ll help me if I continue doing this job for years to come.

Secondly, the state of DE approved us to adopt A!! This was the hurdle we needed to get through so that the interstate paperwork could be initiated for her transfer to PA and our custody. Yesterday our social worker presented us to the DHS committee and they loved us and approved us within 5 minutes of the hearing ending. YAHOOO!!! We have visits with A every weekend but we aren’t going to tell her this week. Next weekend we are going to Ocean City, NJ and we are going to adoption propose to her. I’m away for work right now and need some time to create a cute card and a small gift or something. The DHS people expect the interstate paperwork to take a month and then she could move in with us. I think it’s going to depend on when the paperwork comes through to when she will be able to live with us and how it will affect her school transfer. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves since everything depends on government paperwork.

We are hosting our own Adoption Shower on April 29th. Basically I’m creating a nacho bar and will talk to our friends about A and what the transition will look like. So many people in our life have no experience with foster care or with gentle parenting so we want to give folks a heads up on what our family is going to look/act like. A won’t be there at the party so no pressure for her and we can talk openly about our expectations of folks. I am working on getting my mom to stop telling jokes that involve physical actions “I’m going to whip your ass” type of comments are her go to with kids. I don’t know why but it causes A to react negatively so if she will stop saying things like that we can live a little more harmoniously. Our technique of listening to her  before reacting has gone a long way in our bonding and I know some people think we are nuts but whatever. She is 12 years old and at a point in life where people should hear her out when she’s being frustrated or needs something she can’t describe just yet.

She called us every night this week and told us she loved us and missed us. That was all on her own as we don’t initiate feelings talk with her. She’s got a lot going on in preparing herself for this transition. She is letting her friends and church know that she will be leaving and starting to think about what adoption means for her in relation to her siblings. We are definitely going to create a safe environment for the siblings to stay in touch when it’s appropriate.

Third and finally, we are going to Alabama in a few weeks to celebrate my dad’s life! This is both exciting and stressful as I have pushed dad to the back of my head and now I need to bring him forward again. It’s been easy to forget that he died because we didn’t talk that often so it feels like “old times” basically. I need to work on that and through my feelings about his death. I went back to therapy to get myself on the path of healing and working through feelings. Go me! I’m really looking forward to seeing my siblings again and my extended relatives. Plus A will get to meet everyone and we hope she won’t be too overwhelmed.

Life is good. We are insanely busy and I’ve been exhausted for months but I wouldn’t change any of it. This is mom life!

2018 sucks

So far this year, I had a foster experience that was traumatic, I had the flu and then strep throat, and my dad died.

After being sick for weeks I was scheduled to go back to work on Friday Feb 9th. Instead I get a call that my dad is on life support. So we drove down to Florida- a long 20hr drive. Three hours after we arrived he was removed from the ventilator.

A series of unfortunate medical events meant my dad struggled unnecessarily and did not die peacefully. It took about 17 hours for him to pass away and I wouldn’t call it normal or routine. I imagine my step-mom, sister, or aunt will sue the hospital for their treatment of him prior to removing the ventilator and afterward. Having witnessed someone pass peacefully with hospice, I can tell you this was NOT that. There was zero comfort, no gentle night. Everyone there was traumatized by the experience and is angry.

So, dad died on Sunday. There’s a funeral in Florida on Saturday but none of his older kids will be present as we all had to get back to work. There will be a memorial in Alabama in May during a time when our family gets together to honor the dead. So, it’s appropriate and it’s where he wants his ashes spread. I’m working on my step-mom to coordinate it as she would prefer to do a small immediate family only kind of celebration since she’s having her big thing this weekend. Everyone is so sensitive and awkward. It’s hard to grieve.

People ask how I’m doing and I’m stuck with no clear answer. I was never a daddy’s girl, I was his cast away, the ignored middle child. Truly, he lived a life completely apart from me. After my parents split 24yrs ago, I was nothing to him. He didn’t call, he didn’t visit, he took no initiative. My brother lived with him and he treated him like a leech he couldn’t get away from soon enough. My sister, the oldest, maintains our father as the best man ever. They must have some bond none of us knew or saw. I’ve been in therapy working through my fears of my dad dying and how he never knew me. Then he actually fucking died and my fears became reality. I try so hard to connect with him, go on vacations to see him and our family, try to tell him about my life but he was not receptive. I am sad for the dad he wasn’t but kind of grateful that my kid won’t have to deal with his detached parent/grandparent style. No other kids will know his disinterest in their accomplishments. I just have to move past thinking how shitty he always was and then he died without us ever really talking about it or finding a way to connect.

My dad wasn’t one to ask questions about our lives. He and I never discussed the foster kid we had for two weeks or the visits we have been having with the 12yr old girl. He never expressed interest in anything I was doing, really. But now his wife and one of aunts want to comfort me by saying how excited he was for our parenting adventure and adoption. What the hell? What did he know about me and my life?

We were estranged for years after I came out. He couldn’t deal with that and neither could his wife. It’s always been a very tricky situation with us and one we have been able to ignore in the past ten years since I began a relationship with C. I think my dad thought I had finally met the right man to turn me around…if he only knew. I guess that gave him some comfort that I wasn’t really a lesbian, I don’t know. I’m so frustrated about all the things we never talked about or worked through. He was 59 years old and in poor health so I shouldn’t have expected him to live forever but coming to terms with him dying right now is very difficult.

Random things

I’m sitting in a salon chair waiting for my hair to be purple and blue highlighted. I’m excited to add some fun to my appearance and hopefully my office doesn’t freak out. It’s highlights underneath so it shouldn’t be too bad.

The other day at the bank while opening an account with my mom, she tells the banker I can’t have kids. I was mortified! The banker had asked what big life events are happening and I mentioned we are trying to foster/adopt. The banker goes on to talk about her own infertile sister and how she wishes she could have kids. My mom says, and points at me, “that’s her, she can’t either.” Omg!! I said “thanks mom” as tried to push it away. I don’t generally discuss my family planning situation within 15 minutes of meeting someone. I’m not embarrassed of my fertility issues but I don’t want it publicized either. 

My mom was smoking on our enclosed back porch recently and that’s a huge no no. We can’t stand smoke and we have to be entirely smoke free for foster kids. I did not let the moment pass and told her how this affects us. Hopefully she doesn’t try that trick again!

Tomorrow we fly out to Florida for a week with family and friends. I’m really looking forward to it. I started seeing a therapist a few weeks ago and working through childhood stuff ain’t easy. Now I get to see my dad who caused a lot of my childhood stress and dysfunction. I’m trying to prepare for whatever feelings arise without being afraid of them. Feelings are often scary for me. 

Still no kids in the home but we are so close to matching with two different kids/siblings. I’m getting impatient but it’s worth the wait.

More life changes

My mom is moving in with us. C is driving down to Alabama to pick her up this weekend. She finally left a really unhealthy relationship and has been with my sister for a week. My sis can’t afford to support my mom while she gets her life back. My sister also is a stress-inducing person sometimes and my mom doesn’t do well in constant drama, I mean that’s why she’s leaving her relationship. So rather than stay on my sister’s couch we are gaining a roommate. We are completely ok with this new arrangement. 

It means come tricky work regarding our license as foster parents. Mom will have to get added to the home study and do clearances. Who knows how that will set us back. But at least my mom will be safe and able to be her true self. These past few years with this guy have really changed her and left her really depressed and lacking independence. Her health isn’t good either so we’ll be helping to get her medications and in regular care again. I hope this time next year she’ll feel a little stronger and in control of herself. We’re on it for the long haul so whatever happens, she’s got us. 

Here’s to wherever the road leads

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.

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. 

Let’s catch up

Things are strange at my office. Several department heads were demoted, fired, or motivated to retire. There are so many managerial job postings right now! My director was demoted after 30+ years leading the department. She’s 70 and very hurt by the change but will continue on with the office in a lesser capacity. For now, we have no leader. That’s strange. 

I applied for a position in a new unit, one I’ve been following and training for. It’s a 3 year grant position which is fine with me but there is heavy competition. Attorneys are applying for the same jobs that social workers are! Only 2 positions are available in the first year and then 2 will be added in the second and third year. I feel nervous after hearing what a micro-manager the department heads are. I barely survived that type of manager when I first started here. Hopefully I’ll get an interview and will have a decent chance at one of the positions.

Last year I went to several grad school open houses to figure out if I wanted to get a higher degree. I need change either in the form of a new position or a new career path altogether. If I don’t get this new position, I’m applying to grad school. I’ve set my heart on doing something rather than being stagnant. In the coming months we’ll know what I’m actually going to be doing with my life. 

I went to a hot air balloon festival last week!

Buried my MIL with her parents in Burlington, MA on June 18th.

Ocean City,NJ         I got so sunburnt. A month later and I’m still peeling skin!

Wearing down

I have been mentally drained lately. It started with me picking up a book I had put down last month, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This is a phenomenal book about caring for the aging, the struggles and triumphs of the medical professions and the emerging hospice/assisted living movement. It’s a real look at people who either don’t want a say in how they die, they just want all the treatment possible, and the people who want to know what’s next and plan for their care. So many things come up in this book that remind me of my MIL and leave me hurting and thinking. One part that really hit me on Saturday was a personal story of a woman who was in assisted living and was in extreme pain, spitting up blood, etc but didn’t tell anyone. She suffered silently and didn’t get help until she was having a heart attack – and died. I wonder if that was J my MIL. She had been so run down and weak for months on end and it seemed worse the week prior to her death. Was she really struggling and not telling us? We talked about that sometimes, if she was more uncomfortable than we realized. She didn’t complain much- except about why she wasn’t dead yet. It hurts me to think that she might have been hiding her true difficulty from us so that she could speed up her death on her own terms. I hope that wasn’t really the case and I’m trying not to kick myself for not noticing that something might have been going on.

We are going to Burlington/Boston, Massachusettes this weekend to bury C’s parents. They share an urn and will be laid to rest with his grandparents in a designated cemetary plot. There has been a lot of back and forth about if there is really a headstone there that needs to be written on or if there isn’t one at all. The granite guy and cemetary people don’t seem to be on the same page about what exists so we’ll find out on Saturday! C’s brother and brother-in-law will be there for the burial and then we’ll have some kind of lunch afterward. I think C’s brother won’t really feel the sting of her death until we are there without her. I know he’s been struggling and it doesn’t seem like his mom is dead. But she really is, as hard as it is for all of us.

If you are watching the news, you are flooded with the shooting of Pulse in Orlando, Florida, USA. This attack on the gay community has terrified me and hurt me in ways that are so hard to even talk about. I can’t talk about it without weeping, without thinking of how we are set back by this. I am struggling to make sense of it and to still be “proud” and “out.” I am not very “out” in general life because of these kind of fears of violence and disproval. Now that something has happened on a large scale it makes me want to go back into the closet, be even more stealth, and separate myself. I’ve never said this but today I told C “I’m glad we don’t go to gay places” because I don’t want to face this reality. I haven’t felt fear for my safety since I was first coming out 15 years ago. Now it seems so real and that it could happen anywhere. Bars and clubs are home for so many gays. I used to be at the gay bars every weekend because that’s where my people were, my safe place to be a lesbian and meet others, to not worry about being judged. These places aren’t just a hang out, they are a community center for the LGBTQ community. No one should be afraid to go anywhere but the truth is, we have the potential to be scared to go everywhere. I want to know I can gather with my gay friends and not worry about a hater throwing shit at me, being rude, or shooting me. My brain is on repeat that “this is not a national setback” and “I could be next.” I don’t want civil rights to get stalled and I don’t want to let my fear and anxiety change me into someone else. I also don’t want to weep when I think about all those beautiful souls who died for nothing. There was no cause or choice on their end. They were dancing and having a great time with friends and they were murdered. MURDERED! Nothing will take away the pain and suffering of the loved ones of the deceased and injured. This will forever be a mark on our country and on the LGBT community. I hope I live to see a day when none of us are murdered for being our true selves.