Self reflection

Last year I focused on realizing myself. I worked through the 52 Lists Project and became aware of some of my hopes and dreams through that process. It also helped me set and achieve goals. 
For 2018 I am using on the Desire Map Planner by Danielle LaPorte. I am new to be tribe but she’d been doing motivation work for a few years now. My daily planner arrived yesterday and I’m so excited for it!

Each page is a new day to be planned out according to my “core desired feelings.” The idea is to get in touch with who you really want to be and make it happen through daily intentions. Literally thinking through the way you want to feel or where you want to find happiness can bring an awareness that you were missing. 

I know this may sound like weird hoo-do stuff but it’s enlightening for me and helps me on my journey to being a better person. 

What are you doing to be your best self?

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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.

Day trip in NYC

Yesterday we took a trip to New York. One of our friends in Ottawa came down for the weekend so we went to meet her. We had arranged in advance to go to the United Nations Headquarters because we love stuff like that. Plus, they have a post office with their own unique stamps and postmark. We couldn’t resist! I sent so much mail, lol.

The UN was great and a real learning experience. The guide was very informative and the rooms range from very nice to places I wouldn’t want to sit for hours during a meeting. The art and gifts from various countries was really cool to see. 


 


After the tour we went to Patsy’s Pizza for lunch because who doesn’t love a delicious bit of pizza?

We initially had planned to go to Roosevelt Island but we were running kind of late and it would be pointless to go there at that time. So we went to the library and poked around their recent acquisitions and the gift shop. Definitely a fun way to spend the afternoon. 

After that adventure we went for cookies and coffee before catching our train home. 

It was a nice day away. I’ve been really swamped with work and home adjustments since my mom arrived. Some times it’s really nice to be somewhere different, even for a short while. 

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

Making lemonade

I can definitely see why so many people give up on being foster parents. The process is really frustrating just to get started. We’ve been dealing with our agency for 6 months now and we still aren’t technically foster parents. What we are is a pre-adoptive home. Our social worker wrote us a few days ago to say we have graduated from her services and our next agency contact person will be the matching coordinator.

Though we have been talking for 2 months about her getting us on the list for foster children, we are still being steered towards pre-adoptive only. Maybe this is a sign. Perhaps they think that we have more to offer a child/ren that need a forever home? I don’t know. I have been holding on to this frustration for months now and yesterday C and I finally talked it out. What do we want to do? Our options are (1) force them to start referring foster children to us or (2) bide our time until we are matched with kids and take it from there.

Option 1 pros: we’d get more familiar with the foster care system, would get to use our parenting skills, offer a refuge for kids in crisis or need of caregivers

Option 1 cons: if we take in fosters and then get matched, we’d likely have to remove the fosters to make room, we might have several kids in and out which would disrupt our adult routines/jobs, we might really get fed up with the agency and quit altogether

Option 2 pros: we’ll have a better chance of being able to offer kids a forever home, less in and out of short term foster kids, less time with daily/weekly agency contact once kids are placed and eventually adopted

Option 2 cons: we could end up matching on paper but not in person and that would disrupt the kids, we might be waiting months or years to be matched, our kid rooms sit empty

Given all the pros and cons that we considered, we decided not to force the agency to place foster children with us for short term stays. If there is a child that needs care long term, we will take that one child. We would like to reserve our other rooms for children that we match with. We don’t want to disrupt a settled foster kid for our pre-adoptive kids. We also don’t want to deal with our employers being difficult about needed time off for various kids if they were coming and going frequently.

So, we wait. We will sit tight and wait for the matching coordinator to call and start the process of pairing us with available children who we might click with. Then we’ll wait some more, probably a long while, to get the call that there are children whose parental requirements match up with who we are. This is not the decision that we started this process with and I’m still sitting on it to be sure that I feel okay with it. I know that I have so much energy for parenting and would love to help children. The truth is that I can’t save them all and I need to take a different perspective on the situation. Waiting for pre-adoptive kids isn’t a bad thing.

I know there is a lot to be said for “foster to adopt” and I understand the intricate issues and delicate nature of the term and people’s feelings about families who build their family this way. I hope that folks won’t be too hard on us for waiting for the right child who doesn’t have parent options on the horizon. I think that any child could benefit from our open and loving home environment, not to mention our cute dogs. We aren’t going to take anyone’s children away from them and if we ended up with a failed match, we are okay with that. Time isn’t that important and though we aren’t getting younger, we aren’t worried about not having time with kids that are in our home.

This was a hard decision for me, harder than for C, I think. I’m going to try not to look into the kids rooms too often so that I don’t get that empty feeling of “why aren’t there kids here.”

Sweet memories from vacation

C and I went on vacation last week to the Finger Lakes region of New York. We have friends with a cottage there and we took up their offer to use it any time. This was our first ever week long vacation and it didn’t involve family or other responsibilities! Bonus= the cottage had no cell service or internet. Every evening we were alone with each other and our crafts and had a blast. There’s no other person I’d rather spend a week with in a non air conditioned cottage with well water and bugs galore.

The cottage:

kayaking:

 Susan B Anthony’s house:

Niagara Falls:

This was such an awesome trip, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Hopefully this was our baby moon. We are still waiting to hear if DHS approves our license! 

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*

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?