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?

Advertisements

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.

Aunt 3x

My sister in law was induced on Wednesday night due to too much amniotic fluid. I don’t know the ins and outs of the issue but her medical folks felt they needed to get Maxine out so into labor she went. Yesterday my SIL was 37 weeks along so they felt it was safe. My niece was born at approximately 9pm EST and is doing well. She’s tiny- less than 6 pounds and only 19 inches. In Alabama you must stay in hospital for 48hrs while they perform “state tests” on your child. Not sure wtf that actually means but the new parents are happy to be in the center of attention in the hospital.

Mama wouldn’t allow photos of herself for the first 12hrs afterward but baby looks great!

My younger brother and his first child. 💜

I’m not there, which is sad, but I did see them a few weeks ago and will see them in a few months hopefully. They’re strange new parents so I likely wouldn’t be allowed to visit immediately anyway. I’m glad not to be in the mix of family drama and hurt feelings at the hospital. I can enjoy her arrival from afar. 

This is my 2nd niece and I also have a nephew. Man, I never thought my little bro would have a kid before me but it’s ok. I’m happy for them and for our journey. 

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.

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?

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!