To be..parents

Today we got an email from the adoption worker for the child we met last month. They want us to have an all day date in January 13 in the child’s home community. Then a visit in our community after that. After those day visits they want to move to overnights.

Sounds great, right? Well, it would be if things seemed more organized. I have reservations about having overnight visits with a child that we are not officially matched with. We should have some information about the history before we all get attached, right? It feels like the child’s agency is moving past the administrative stuff and treating us like we are a sure thing. I have asked for clarity and what the steps forward will be. I have no reason to think we won’t be a match for adoptive placement but want all the cards on the table. 

I hope we get some clarity next week and that we have a great visit. 

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Ok I think we are getting closer!!

Last Sunday we finally met a kid we have been interested in since October-ish. Her worker found us on the national registry and reached out to see if we were interested in this kid. The kids parental rights were terminated over a year ago and the kid is in a safe foster home but they aren’t interested in adoption. So here they were.

We went bowling with the kid and the adoption recruiter. It was a really great time after we all relaxed. We had a hard time breaking the ice until we started to talk about our dogs. Dogs are a great ice breaker! Things went great from them on. The kid asked us about “if I come to live with you..”  but nothing that was too weird. We all agreed to hang out again in January. If this next meeting goes well, we will consider it a match I think. Due to some interstate compact requirements it will be a long time until the kid moves in with us, likely the end of the school year in June. If we are a match, we will get to visit regularly as we work on trust and bonding. I like this kid and can definitely see the addition to our family. 

Fingers crossed that 2018 is the year of family for so many of us! 

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.

The matching process

So here we are working our way through the matching process. We’ve inquired about a few kids and siblings over the past 6 weeks and we finally struck some interest last week! Our worker contacted us when she received the full profile on a sibling set we are interested in. We feel like we could be good parents to these kids, ages 6 and 8. 

Today we were able to review their profile and are even more interested. Unfortunately so are “many” other families, including another family that our worker is pitching to the kids team. Yikes!! We were feeling good about matching with them until we found out about the stiff competition. Due to the amount of interest, the child worker is screening everyone by phone. That will happen this week sometime. If we pass the phone call screen, we will have an in person interview with the clinical team in October. The team is aiming for the kids to move in with their pre-adoptive parents over the Christmas school break. That’s so soon! 

Please send all the good vibes that these kids find the right parents (and hopefully that’ll be us) for their unique needs. 

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.