Butterflies

So, we finally were able to visit with our little M. The drive to Massachusetts really isn’t bad, but the trip up there was nerve wracking for sure. M lives in a group home and the closer and closer we got to the address, the more my stomach began to flutter. Some serious butterflies, i tell ya.

When we pulled in the driveway of what looked like a regular house, except it had a long driveway and the front yard was a parking lot.  I noticed there were some tomato plants and squash growing in flower bed.  I felt like I was going to puke, I was so nervous.

We had a little gift bag with some items we brought her; a book S had made online containing photos of our family and pets, some t-shirts from Long Island, and a little Long Island bracelet.

We knocked on the finger print/smudged glass screen door.  We could see inside.  There was a short hallway with hooks and cubicles splattered with jackets, shoes and backpacks. at the end of the short hallway was a dining table which we could see two little girls sitting with a female adult. “Come in” the lady shouted. We walked in and noticed to our right was a room which contained a TV on the wall and a couch.  There were signs everywhere with lists and rules such as “Before you are allowed to use electronics you must have 20 minutes of exercise”.

We were directed through the kitchen past a sink of dishes and an overloaded garbage can and to another hallway.  There we saw a big desk where a smiling young lady named Jamie sat. S was walking in front of me and I see her smile and say “HI!” in a maternal sing song voice.  Then up walks  M!  Her arms out offering hugs to us both.  Her first words were “Thank you for coming all this way for me! You are so sweet! Kate said you still wanted me even after you read my file”.

What do you say to that? What do you say to a 12 year old girl who thanks you for wanting her? My mind racing I said “Are you kidding sweetie? You are perfect for our family!” and I hugged her. She immediately had questions before we even left the group home. I don’t remember much, but I do recall the very first question she asked was our religion.

I let her sit in the front seat. Not sure why, but I just wanted to give her options. We had planned to go to a ceramic shop that lets you create, paint, and glaze little items.  We found it online and thought it would be a good option. However, much to our disappointment it was closed. We went to chuck e cheese, which was probably a little over stimulating for all of us.  A few hours in and she already told us she feels like she loved us. Confusing for me, but instinctively I wanted to love her back! Then to a movie and then to dinner. She ate way too much desert and she was way to hyper.  We took her back to the group hope hyped up on sugar.  Not very good parenting, but …I guess we just wanted to have a good day with her.

We spend the weekend in Ma, dropping M off and picking her up the following day for some shopping, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  By the end of the weekend we felt like we new each other. We all agreed we had so much in common and we all felt like family already.

I’m afraid…

I like to say “I’m not afraid of anything!”.  But I am. I have a fear of swimming in bodies of water where little fishies brush up against your leg or plop out unexpected . Totally freaks me out. Frankly, I lose my shit. I cause a scene and folks, I am not a “cause a scene” person. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy attention but I really don’t want to look like a squealing fool splashing around and running out of the ocean while people stare at me wondering if it is a shark attack.  It’s embarrassing.

So, I am afraid of some things. Right now, I’m really afraid of “M”, the 12 year old girl we are bringing into our lives.  This is my dream and I was so confident that this was what I wanted; what I’m called to do. I still believe this is my purpose in life, but sheesh…I’m so scared.

M has had a difficult life. I’ve been reading page after page of her life story, through the eyes of social service workers. I have to keep telling myself, this is only part of the story.  My daughter, E, said “Mom, if everything C (her brother) I ever did was documented on paper, what would you think?”. She’s right. In our adoption classes we were taught that the file they give you at the “disclosure meeting” represents survival mode. I really should just stop reading it.  This little girl has learned to survive the only way she could and now I am expecting her to come into my house and become part of my family and live happily ever after ?  It’s not going to be an easy  or smooth transition for her or for us.

I think the part that frightens me the  most is not knowing. I don’t know if she is going to like us.  I don’t know if she is going to become angry or sad, I don’t’ know if she is going to be comfortable in our home. Will she run away? How will she adjust to a new school? Will she make new friends? Will I have regrets?

At this point, we haven’t even started visitation yet, so I’m just trying to calm myself and take this one step at a time, otherwise I just get very freaked out.  Deep breath…no running away squealing.  This is not a shark… Everything is going to be okay.

 

 

~M

So, the sharing conference was a big fat washout! We met our adoption person, P, at the agency on Monday, June 1st for the conference call.  We began exclaiming how excited we are (and we totally were) only to be countered with the commend “We’ve been thrown a curve ball…”   Turns out, the younger girl (9 year old) has been placed in a pre-adoptive home with her oldest sister. As disappointed as we were, we were also relieved. You see, the week before this conference call, on May 20th, S and I had gone to an adoption event in Massachusetts.  I didn’t’ want to go, but my wife is always prepared, “What if something happens and the upstate placement doesn’t work out?” she asked me. She always thinks ahead like that. I was certain those were our girls so I wasn’t reading to engage with the waiting children at this event. I went…but I was determined not to participate.

While at the adoption even, a social worker named M-K introduced us to a 12 year old girl named “M——-“. We recognized her from an adoption website.  S and I would often drank coffee and search the various adoption websites on weekend mornings.   In fact we commented to one another about how perfect she was, but… she had very little hair.  “I wonder what that’s about?”, I said as I showed S her picture.  There she was, with big fat chunky glasses with big beautiful blue eyes and fuzzy short blonde hair.

When we met her, at the adoption event she smiled, wiped her cookie crumb hands on her pants and offered us a hand shake. She was full of excitement and interested in where we were from. “Long Island!?” She squealed with childlike excitement. I wondered if she even knew where Long Island even was.

She shared with us she loved to eat, enjoyed electronics and playing games. We learned from her social worker that she has Trichotillomania, a hair pulling disorder which explained the fuzzy short hair.

I spent very little time with this M because I was determined not to be disloyal to the upstate girls who have been matched with us. Plus, I’ll admit the hair pulling issue kinda freaked me out. I kept my distance trying not to be obvious or too awkward.  I couldn’t keep my eye off of her.  I watched her interact with the animals in the petting zoo. I watched her run from activity to activity, then go eat pizza. She was certainly animated and she seemed really smart. Then, as we were getting ready to leave she approached us. “I’m leaving now” she said smiling “and I wanted to just say goodbye and It was nice meeting you.” Just when I wondered if I should hug her, she extended her hand for a goodbye handshake.  Ughgh…my heart. I was hooked.

As we drove home, I tried to convince S that we should submit our home-study to her social worker and reminded her – “Just in case.”  S was unsure about the hair pulling. I decided I would research it.

I did…i researched it.  It’s not that frightening and I also decided if M is meant to be our kid, then S will be on board and it will happen organically. So, when we found out that our upstate placement fell through, we were both so relieved. We looked at each other and confessed that we really wanted M! We immediately submitted our homestudy to her social worker.

Monday, June 19th 2017, we went to Massachusetts for our “Disclosure Meeting”.  We were handed a stack of papers three inches thick and was told “this is M”. Wow…I read some really disturbing stuff.  It left me breathless and sickened. I decided that is NOT M.

I don’t really know exactly what we have just signed up for. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  But for now, I just know I’m expecting a daughter.  A bouncing preadolescent girl.  I am preparing myself to protect her, guide her, advocate for her and love her unconditionally with every ounce of passion I have. She doesn’t have to like me, or appreciate me, or even respect me (but I  hope she does all three!!!!), she is our daughter and she doesn’t even know it yet.

 

Things are getting real now

 

So, in January we started the classes to become certified pre-adoptive parents. We found an adoption agency here on Long Island that facilitates the process.  We first must be certified Foster parents because the adoption process takes a while. Therefore prior to the legalities of adoption we will be fostering.

The classes were emotional and I really wished I had documented my feelings throughout the process. My image of our child/children and how our family will be has morphed every week. I now understand how broken these children are and why they behave the way they do. It’s traumatizing to go through what they have gone through. I’m heart broken to think my daughter(s) will have been through abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, ptsd, and God forbid even worse. I’m bracing myself for the storms that might be ahead of us, and trusting that we will make it through to calmer waters. However, I still find myself so angry at their biological family yet I understand the love our child/children will have for their biological parents.  It’s so unfair.

We have found two little girls and are approved for placement (told you we would get two). They are from upstate and are 9 and 13.  Our sharing conference is tomorrow. We are both sick with anxiety because we don’t know anything about these two girls, yet we have studied their online profile and know every letter and ever word. It’s painfully vague. Do they have special needs? Will we be able to care for them? Are they going to be the right fit? Will the two beautiful little girls in the photo we have been carrying around for several months be ours or will be have to start the search all over? I less than 24 hours I’ll know these answers.  I feel sick to my stomach about this.

To be honest, this process has been parallel to pregnancy. I’ve had two biological children, and I feel similar emotions through out this process. At first I was excited.  I had this idea about how our family would change. As we began the process and became more educated, we sometimes would have doubts and fears.  Once we were certified we began to make future plans and prepare.  We cancelled our vacation but decided we may need a little time alone before became parents (booked a babymoon). We are preparing a bedroom and we are anxiously awaiting the day when we become parents.

People i talk to seem to be concerned that we can’t see the girls in real life before we commit to being parents to them. I guess I do sort of understand that concern, but I don’t care about their mannerisms. I don’t care how they sound, if they have speech problems, if they look me in the eye, if they smile or frown or any of that! I don’t care because I know the child I meet will not be the child I live with 6 months later. It will not the daughter I teach to drive one day or watch graduate high school.

We will know tomorrow morning if they are ours…I feel pretty certain they are.

Adventures in Adopting a Waiting Child; Why do I want this?

I’ve been questing my reasons for wanting to adopt. There are several reasons. Certainly, I miss my son and it’s bitter sweet that my daughter is now 20 and doesn’t think of me as cool anymore (don’t doubt; I am very cool).

My wife and I recently got married and she asked me last night if I wanted to adopt a child because I was unhappy with her. Surely, this is definitely not the case. On the contrary, she’s perfect in her own crazy way and I couldn’t be happier with our relationship. We will be together 10 years this year.

I think we will be blessed, I think we will benefit it many ways, I think adopting a child will make our lives rich, but that is not why I want to do this. The only reason I can honestly say I want to do this is because, I simply must. I’m on this earth for a brief time and this is what I’m called to do while I’m here. Don’t tell S (my wife), but I predict we will end up with more than one. In this life, all you have are connections and relationships. What a beautiful circle of connectedness that family is. Think about how this is making a difference in one life? The path for this young person will be changed forever! Hopefully for the better! Why isn’t everyone doing this?

 

Adventures in Adopting a Waiting Child; Christmas Vacation 2016

We had a week off together for Christmas Vacation, “S” and I. She’s an administrator at a High School, so she had the week off. I took a week’s vacation so we could just enjoy the holidays, I work in administration for a State College.  We enjoyed the heck out of our relaxing holidays.

I’ve been talking about the idea of getting a foster child or for years. I’ve even tossed around the idea of option. Of course, S reminds me I’m suffering from empty nest since my daughter is turning 20 and my son recently joined the Marines and would not be home for the Holidays. The empty nest part is true, but that is not my deciding factor about wanting to adopt a kid in the system.

S doesn’t’ know, but I often peruse the photo listings of waiting children. It’s my calling to care for those that need caring for. I’m not the most gentle or nurturing, but I love pretty darn hard and I make no apology for it. It is who I am. I am concerned about others’ comfort and I want to make people feel safe. It is who I am, it is my calling. The truth, I don’t even mind sacrificing if I know it’s for someone who really needs it more than me. I thought I was warped or broken, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are all types of people, and that is who I am. I love hard and it’s okay.

Anyway, during Christmas/Hanukkah dinner S announced to her family that I wanted to adopt a foster child and everyone seemed to think it was  great idea. S later confessed that she herself might be getting more comfortable with the idea. We have a nice home, good jobs, and at least one extra bedroom. We would really make great parents. I have two great kids that S has helped me raise for the last 9 almost 10 years. She never had kids, but I’m certain she would make a great mom. We would give a kid a pretty decent life! I just know it!

Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!