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?

Pre-service is like trauma therapy

I don’t really keep track of who is following me so I don’t know if anyone from my real life is still reading or if my audience is mainly people I’ve met online through this blog, or its predecessor. If you do know me, don’t tell my parents you read this.

On Feb 18th we attended our first pre-service training to become adoptive parents. We chose the intensive 7 hour Saturday class rather than 2 shorter classes on weeknights. In attendance were 2 other young couples, early 20s, who did not speak with us at all. There were 3 grandparents who have custody of grandchildren, 1 woman who has custody of 3 of her nephews, and 4 individuals who will walk this road alone. We spoke mainly with the singles in the class.

First order of business was watching a video about when children are removed from their home. You can watch the video here on YouTube. (Part two can be viewed here, I just watched it on my own.) If you watched those videos, I’m sure they pulled at your heart strings. Watching the first video in a room with strangers was rough. At the lunch break C and I were both reflecting on the video and other things we’d been discussing up until that point. For me, watching that mom chase after her man was heartbreaking. When I was 11-12 years old my stepfather was arrested for hitting my 14yr old sister in the head. When the police came, my mother was concerned with him. She’s screaming “don’t take him” and “why” and other dramatics. I remember being very confused about how quick things went. Meanwhile my sister was at the neighbors house and my mom never checked on her. I ended up moving to my grandfather’s while my mom and stepdad were investigated for child abuse. Having your parent not care about your needs/feelings is the WORST FEELING EVER! I feel so sad for the girl in the videos and for all the children who are pushed aside while parents do their grown up thing.

For C, he really struggled with one component of the class where they talk about parents trying so hard to be better than their parents but still not being effective. His own dad was an alcoholic and not very emotional, didn’t give praise or affection at all. His grandfather was a drunk who was abusive and left the family. So C’s dad felt he was doing great just because he stuck it out with the family. C wants to do better. I think he’ll be an amazing parent, 100x better that his dad’s version of “better.”

We have talked so much about what we see ourselves doing as parents, who we want to be. Coming from homes with alcoholics, we know how awful that is. We know the feeling of explosive anger that you didn’t see coming and being disappointed in your parents time and again. No one is perfect, and I’m sure we’ll be disappointing sometimes, but I strive to be an open-minded parent who doesn’t rush to judgment. I’m naturally a sensitive and logical person and I have more than enough empathy for others. I think this will help me be a good parent. I have worked with adults who have been foster children or who were never in the system but should have been. I know those adult feelings of despair and how the child needed love and support to learn love, responsibility and effective coping mechanisms. I think that we can provide that. We didn’t  expect these classes to force us to reflect on who we are and what our childhood traumas were. It’s hard to think about my future child experiencing some of the things that I did. It breaks my heart. I know we will offer a safe place with love and access to all the supports our child(ren) might need.

This weekend we do another 7 hour class and then we are done with pre-service. Theoretically then we will be assigned a social worker and begin the actual work of becoming foster-to-adopt parents!

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!

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!

Lost blog friend

I’ve been following Rebecca at Fosterhood blog longer than she’s had her daughter’s (~4yrs). I have diligently read her posts daily and, now that she has deactivated it, my heart hurts. We haven’t met or communicated privately but I cheer on her family and am watch the struggles in NYC  foster system that she shares. She’s a great writer and a good “imaginary friend” in my mind. Do you have blog people that you follow who you are attached to even though you have zero personal interaction? 

I hope she comes back some day and finds her faithful followers again. Meanwhile I’ll be thinking happy thoughts for her, the girls, and the other families stuck in the cog of foster care. 

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! 

Holiday baking

I love to bake, all year around! But winter time is when all my skills come out. This weekend we baked all the cookies to send to my parents, siblings, inlaws, and C’s best friend. It was exhausting but so much fun. 

We made two types of cookies that were my mother in laws favorites and that got us to talking about her. We still mention her almost daily and it’s getting less weird. 7 months went by fast, I feel like she just died. Anyway, her recipes came out delicious! The Christmas lace cookies were my favorite. We were so glad to be able to share them with others. 

Other cookies were some I make every year and a new cookie that was gingerbread with a lemon icing. Delicious! The cookies were a huge hit with our co-workers too. Office people like to eat. 

My cookies were: gingerbread with lemon icing, rugelach, cinnamon crisps, chocolate coffee crinkle, lemon raisin, and Christmas lace. I can post recipes if anyone is interested!

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.