When the stars don’t align

Sometimes I think our case worker is an idiot. In my June 16th post “Unofficially Official” I provided false information- that was provided to us by the social worker but I just realized it last weekend. So yea.

We have one more class before we will even be submitted to the agency board for approval. Our social worker had told us in early June that everything was good to go since we approved the profile and it would go to DHS for approval and we should hear in a few weeks. She noted that these July classes would not hold us up since they are adoption specific and we had expressed that we wanted to foster. Yea, lies.

We are in the midst of the 2 part adoption classes now. Last weekend we were there for 6 hours with adoption workers who are coworkers of our assigned person. They laid out very clearly the process. There were 2 other families there who were in the same position as us, everything was completed except this class. The class leaders explained that once you complete this class your profile goes to the agency board and then you meet with the matching specialist., not before Our social worker had told us we’d meet with the specialist prior to our license being approved. Can you see how frustrating all of this is? Grr! So I have a clearer picture now that we are not going to hear from the agency board about approval until some times in August. We had kind of rushed and got a lot of items, put the beds up, etc. thinking that sometime this month we might be getting calls. Little did we know.

Meanwhile we are planning to go to Florida for Thanksgiving to spend time with my dad’s side of the family. My mom also recently relocated to Florida so we’ll get to see her also. We bought our plane tickets and are holding out hope that if we have children they are long term placements that can go with us on this trip. We bought trip insurance just in case we have to cancel or reschedule. Right now we are looking at accommodations and it’s hard not knowing how many beds we’ll need and things like that. I’m geared towards an Airbnb place or VRBO so that we have privacy and the kids don’t feel like we’re hounding them 24/7. Everyone likes to have their own space, ya know. I hadn’t realized how difficult it can be to plan anything in the future without knowing what the children situation will be like. Even making plans with friends for the fall is “it’ll depend on what the kid situation looks like” and luckily people are very understanding.

We attended the Pennsylvania Adoption and Permanency Conference at the end of June and it was really informative. That whole experience deserves its own post though so look for that soon.

Today we celebrate C’s 41st birthday with a pool party with our nearest and dearest! ❤

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. 

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!

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.

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.

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?

Slowly trucking along

Last weekend we received paperwork from our assigned Family Development Coordinator. It was an introduction and to-do list. The list includes each of us getting 3 references, making a fire escape map, filling out an income sheet, and waiting for the FDC to call us about our first home visit. 

Additionally, we were given the schedule for upcoming adoption courses that are required. Two sets start a  May weekend that we are out of town and the next set isn’t until July. We signed up for July. We had hoped to be further along by the end of summer but it is what it is. This gives us ample time to get the fingerprints and security clearances done. Logically, the home study will be completed by the time our classes are complete. We’ll see though. My time line isn’t everyone’s timeline.

Thinking that we would be licensed and approved by August meant possibly taking in a child before the school year.In anticipation of that, I wanted to go on a babymoon. August is also our anniversary month. We started planning and getting excited but now with my work obligations (very important court dates) and our financial situation changing (due to saving for kids and getting the house kid-friendly) there may be no babymoon.I feel like I have to stuff all the fun couples-only things into the next 6 months because our time will be very different after that. Right now we have the following trips on the horizon, not including baby moon. 

March 30-April 2nd in Alabama for a baby shower (driving)
May 4-7th in New Hampshire to visit MIL grave and see friends (driving)

June 17-24 in upstate New York at a friend’s cabin with them (driving)

November 23ish in Florida for Thanksgiving (flying)

 Did anyone else go on a vacation weeks before having a child come home via birth or adoption/foster? Looking at this crazy schedule should we plan an extra trip somewhere like Seattle or South Dakota to see the sights, maybe a long weekend? Should we go somewhere close to home like Ohio, North Carolina,or Maine instead? I’m trying to avoid being deathly hot.

Am I being too eager or optimistic thinking we will get a placement within a few weeks of being licensed?

Step One

Today we went to an information session at a local foster/adoption agency. We were nervous but really didn’t need to be. The coordinator was fabulous, very open and receptive to questions. We felt very comfortable with the information presented and and are ready to move forward. 

We signed up for the next two pre-service sessions in February. Then we are on our way to being certified in a few months. We’ll have a Family Development Specialist (social worker) to help us along and complete the home study. For now, we have submitted our paperwork to be approved for foster/ adoption. We are particularly interested in what they are calling “legal risk” adoption or “straight” adoption. Legal risk are children who are close to being free for adoption but who under miraculous circumstances may be reunited with their legal family. Straight adoption will be children who are already waiting for a forever home. 

We have not shared this plan with your immediate families. We have discussed it with our friends that we’ll be asking to give references for us and a few others. Right now, it’s a very small circle for support while we enter this journey. Eventually it’ll expand. It feels safe to discuss this adventure with you all. We feel so much more relaxed and excited about this as compared to the stress and fear when I was trying to get pregnant. This offers me hope for our future family. 
Next workshops are Feb 18th and 25th. Here we go!