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.”

Advertisements

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?

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?

NYC getaway and other updates

We went to New York to celebrate my birthday! We had a great time with our friends who joined us. It snowed some on Saturday which only dampened our spirits a little. 

The 9/11 Memorial pools. If you haven’t seen them, you should if you’re in the city. It was very moving and there aren’t words to express the magnitude of the experience, especially if you remember the news stories that day. Wow!

Cruise around the statue of liberty. What an awesome view! Looking back, the tall building is One World Trade Center, very tall and it’s one of 4 world trade center buildings they are building. 

Rockefeller Center, the iconic statue. This was 10pm and there were so many people ice skating! They have much more energy than I do for that time of night.

In other, not travel news, I’m 34 years old! Wow. It feels like I was 25 just a few months ago. Time does fly. I may have mentioned that my family is of the general feeling that people over 30 should not have children. It’s a general consensus, except with my dad who had a child in his early 40s. As a result, we are not planning to tell our families about our family building plans. It’ll be a surprise if it all falls into place.

We have contacted several adoption and foster-to-do adopt agencies to get started with paperwork for home plan and start classes or whatever is needed. We are moving forward working on the home study component as that can be complete prior to a picking an agency. Plus, that’ll take some time to be completed. I signed us up for a “first steps of adoption” workshop on January 28th. Let’s get this ball moving!

Dog days and weird dreams

Does anyone else dress their dogs up in holiday costumes? These pups were so cute but not particularly amused at our style choices.

I love them so much though!

Chewy is our underbite wonder dog!

Emmy is Santa’s unwilling elf.

I’ve been sick and medications lead to the weirdest dreams about old jobs, strange adventures, and life goals.

One thing we put back on the table after 2 years is the possibility of parenthood. We’ll discuss more in the summer after my unit hires an additional employee so that I don’t feel so guilty about my personal life choices. More details eventually! 

Feeling the burn

The tattoo burn that is!

Today I acquired my first new tattoo on ten years! It’s a bracelet of green ribbon. The Picasso peace dove is on my outer wrist and the resist/solidarity fist is on my inner wrist. It came out just as I’d hoped and it already feels like part of me. 

I feel so much desire to continue advocacy for human rights and equality, and to work towards peaceful resolutions. This tattoo is my strong/protesty self and my let’s be rational or pray about it self. 

I feel that most often peace/calm and community solidarity ate at odds but don’t have to be. Alternately, we must stand up for the injustices around us or we’ll never have peace…of mind…or anything else.