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Finally!

The summer came and went. We would visit almost every weekend and call every day. Sometimes we had overnights and sometimes just a Saturday.  Several times I would take off on a Friday around noon, take a drive to Ma, pick her up and take the ferry home. Then, we would take her back on Sunday. Occasionally we brought E, my oldest biological daughter with sometimes not. We got season passes to six flags and would frequent  Six Flags New England. We arranged a meeting with  M’s biblical brother and sister and their pre adoptive family at Six Flags. They were nice people and we agreed to continue regular visits.

We started learning each other and a couple of times M had melt downs. Mostly it would happen when one of us reprimanded her. She would cover her head and face and just not talk at all. These melt downs were short and would usually be over when I hugged her.  She always told us how much she loved us and she always wanted to hear that she was loved.

We constantly waited and hoped for M to be placed in our home before school started. Certainly that would be best for her and that’s what everyone wanted, right? What is best for the kid??

But, bureaucracy is bureaucracy  and we had no power and no patience. M had no patience either. School started in Massachusetts and M was worried to go back. She confessed to us that she told her friends at school that she was moving to California and getting adopted.  We convinced her to just own up to her lies and tell her friends the truth.

M also started having frustration and anxiety in her group home. She would act out. I guess she started feeling like a normal kid and resented being in this group home. The workers there accused her of feeling “superior” than everyone else. They said we were spoiling her. I argued that everyone deserves to be spoiled sometimes.

S and I didn’t really think much of the workers in the program. I’m sure some of them were good, but some of them were just jerks and we knew who they were. We heard the way they talked to her. Very oppressive and disrespectful. Once one of them commented (when she probably forgot or refused to wear deodorant) that “M likes to smell like burger king”.  Once we heard one of them yelling at her when she was talking to us on the phone.  It was really frustrating because we were beginning to feel like she was our kid and wanted to defend her, but we also didn’t want to make things worse for her while she was there.  Every phone call, every night she would cry to us, “I want to get out of here” “get me out of here” and we would tell her to just be patient, be a good girl, etc.  One day, we got the email. the Interstate compact was complete. We could take M home for good!

That night we could not wait to call. In fact, we called earlier than we were suppose to and called as soon as we got home from work. M knew something was up, because we usually called around 7:00.  We told her “guess what?  You are coming home this weekend for good!” She started crying and crying! It was one of our happiest memories.

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Unicorn Kid

We took M home for a week in August. When we went over the Ma/Ct state line, M was excited to be out of Massachusetts. She hates Massachusetts. She feels like that’s where her life went wrong; when her mom moved her and her two siblings from Michigan to Massachusetts to marry some guy she met online. We know a lot about her biological family at this point. We did a lot of facebook/online stalking. M came from a life of neglect, but she doesn’t really acknowledged it and doesn’t feel like her mom is to blame for her being in the foster system.

We get across the Long Island sound, drive off the ferry, and take her home. She had decided to decorate her room in unicorns. S and I joked that she was the “unicorn kid” (which is a reference to the perfect kid everyone is looking for but doesn’t exist). Her room is very small with a white loft (full size) bed, a teeny desk, and a small tv hanging in the corner. The shelf and dresser fit neatly under the loft bed.M was thrilled to have a T.V. in her room. I apologized for the smallness of the room and she responded quickly “That’s okay”. I think she liked it.

At the time, we had two dogs and a cat. Mya – the 11 year Husky/Lab mix, Mitsy – 9 year old Bichon/shihtzu mix, and Emerson – 13 year old cat. She loved the cat and called him “Mr. Meow Meow”. We began to notice how childlike M can be. Sometimes she acted like a toddler and other time like  12 year old and even other times like a 30 year old tough lady. She insisted on calling the cat “Mr. Meow Meow”.  I didn’t care what she called the cat, but S was so annoyed by this. S has never had kids but certainly she has helped me care for my two. Nonetheless sharing isn’t a strength for S and she really is going to have a tough time adjusting to having a kid.

The week went well and we all enjoyed spending time together. But, we started to really see the challenges ahead of us. One thing we had to address was M’s hygiene. She smelled like a 12 year old girl who didn’t wear deodorant. We bought her lots of toiletries, new bras and underwear and dropped hints about hygiene and body odor.  We felt uncomfortable just saying “girl, you stink”. We would whisper to one another in our bedroom about how are we going to deal with this problem? We asked E, our oldest daughter, to drop hints as well. And we were not sure, but we suspected that M wasn’t actually showering when she went into the bathroom. If you are thinking of doing this, fostering to adopt an older child, just realize that this is a normal phenomenon.  I think it is control. We just hoped it would get better.

I took time off and since S is in public education, she was off all summer. We swam in our pool, went to NYC, and just enjoyed getting to know each other. But, after 4 days we had to take M back to the “program”. The closer we got to the group home, M physically began to tense up.  You could see her facial expressions, her words, the tone of her voice – just everything about her began to morph. S and I also dreaded taking her back.  We tried to make the hand off pretty fast, but M was with us almost two weeks at this point. She cried. We cried.

 

Time Flies

So, It’s March 2018. I hadn’t posted since we met M.  I don’t know why because this was such a documentable experience! I regret it, but nonetheless I’m going to try to recap and start writing more about our wild and crazy life.

S and I met our new 12 year old daughter, M, in July 2017.  Following that initial meeting we continued to meet with her throughout the summer.  However, we could only visit her in Massachusetts and could not bring her home. We took her shopping for clothes and the girl didn’t even really know what she liked and really hated trying on clothes. She would want everything and we bought her anything she wanted. We soon learned she would quickly lose interest in “stuff”. It was like she was in a whirlwind and was terribly distracted by anything sparkly and available. Starbucks was “her life”. She seemed to like unicorns, pink, and we soon realized she would just ask for things to see if she would get them!

We visited her every weekend and even took her to Plymouth and other vacationy areas of Massachusetts for a week in August. We walked around the town and she wanted clam chowder, and fried clams. She always orders a large of everything! then the kid decides it “tastes funny”.  I soon learned, after spending $30.00 on an order of fried clams that we are going to have to start saying “no”.

We enjoyed that week in Massachusetts. It was pretty nice. We all stayed in hotels (we had to make sure it was a suite and M had her own room. sometimes we would get a Jr. suite and M would sleep on the pull out couch in the livingroom area of the hotel room.  the last day of that week, we were packing up to take her back to “the program” (which is the group home M was living in).  As we were getting ready to check out of the hotel, we got an email from her social worker. Our Interstate compact was FINALLY approved and we were able to take M home for a visit! We asked her if she wanted to go to Long Island and see her new house and her new home. We all started jumping up and down in the hotel room!  It was exciting!

 

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.

Waiting

One word I can use to describe my experience with this adoption process…”waiting”.  Oh my gosh!  We waited to take the classes, we waited for our home study,  We waited to find the right match, we waited for our home study to be submitted, we waiting for a response (sometimes never getting one), we waited to have a disclosure meeting, now we are waiting for the contract between our agency and the county to be signed, then we will wait to schedule visitation, then we will wait for her to come stay with us…and finally we will wait for the adoption process to be completed (which is another bureaucratic adventure of waiting). Ughghg!!! So, if you are thinking about adoption…be prepared to do a lot of waiting!

Sometimes the waiting is difficult and causes anxiety.  I keep telling myself and my wife S that we need to just surrender to the process.  I have had two biological children and the waiting is an important part or preparation and adjustment. Much like the gestational period of having a biological child, this waiting period is super important  in preparing for this new addition to our family.  I have realized that we need to emotionally prepare, mentally prepare, physically prepare.  The physical part is easy.  We got a new bedroom set and we want to get her new clothes and school supplies, register her for school etc. The mental part is getting there. I have prepared myself mentally to accept that our daughter will come with some behavioral and emotional issues that I am bracing myself for. I am ready to commit to her best interest and I have no doubt I will be fervent in this commitment. I’m mentally ready to take this on.  It’s the emotional preparation that I’m trying to wrap my head around right now. I’m just not sure how and if I can even prepare myself emotionally.

I feel so many different feelings and questions that cannot be answered.  The biggest one is fear, and I’ve shared with you in this blog many of my fears. I also wonder if I will love her and if she will love us. I remember having similar questions before my biological children were born, so I’m pretty sure I will have a mother’s love immediately. I think I love this girl and I only met her once. But, that’s one of my skill-sets. I have a strong maternal urge to love. Will she hate us? Will she resent us because we are not her mom?  Will this affect my relationship with my wife? With my biological children? Will our family accept her as a family? Will she accept us as  family? *Sigh* More waiting…ughg

We are most likely going to visit her for the first time (officially) this weekend.  I’m not sure if she knows we want her.

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.