Listening to: Mewithoutyou


Reading: Unlikely Foster Parents part One and Two

Writing About: The epic conclusion to the first part of our adoption journey!  Dun Dun Dun!

If you’ve been following, I have been telling the story my family’s journey in foster care.
You could call the first article “early history”
it starts with teenage me and ends with our call to foster care
Here it is, Part one!
The second article covers our training and what we learned, and ends with our first placement:
Part Two, right here!

The Baby

Our first placement was a baby.
We loved that little baby.  He was great.  Our girls were perfect care takers.  We had a blast.
I was so proud to cart him around the church…like: “Look I am doing something good, and it’s really cute”    Then they found a permanent home for him with relatives.
He lived with us for a few weeks.

I can’t say we weren’t disappointed.  I hope I have demonstrated that all of this is morally and emotionally complex.  We wanted that kid, we wanted to love him, and “save” him.  But we didn’t, we just spent some time giving him all we have. Now he is in a home that will keep him well connected with his birth family.

People often say “Isn’t it hard to say bye”
And the answer is yes, of course it is.
But we do what we are called to do in the time given, we don’t control anything else.

Leslie knew there was a “right placement for us” out there.  I choked up when I wrote that.
We said no to a bunch more phone calls, which was not easy.
We tried to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but that’s not easy when the choices are children.
What kind of Holy Spirit says no to a kid that needs a home?
But we did that, trying to say yes when we were supposed to say yes.
Trying to be faithful with the small part of this that we control (our “yes” and “no”)
And after a few months, we got a call that we believe was the right call for us. Choked up again.

The Boys

when they arrived, they were smaller than a stalk of corn.

In the summer of 2013 a pair of brothers came into our home.
They were 2 and 4 years old when they arrived.

No one writes about my life on the internet except for me.
So I am going to do my sons the same courtesy.  (spoiler alert, we adopted the boys)
Sometimes people want juicy gossip about kids in care, because they know it is there to be had.

That is ghoulish.  You don’t want to be defined by your trauma, do you?

I take a lot of video of my family.
At the end of the year, I edit it together into a video yearbook.
I will tell you this, and it should come as no surprise:

We went on a family vacation within days of the boys’ arrival.
It was already on the books and we thought it would be a good experience (which it was).
6 months passed between taking the video of our vacation and editing it.
In those 6 months our family had adjusted. We really knew the boys, and our girls had become part of a large family.  When I looked back at the footage of the vacation it was apparent that everyone was in shock.  No one was themselves.  It wasn’t bad, but we were in the beginning stage of a major adjustment.

A few vignettes from our two year crawl towards permanency:

I can remember sitting in my front yard, pulling weeds while all of our kids rode bikes thinking:
“I know this is what we are supposed to do, but I think I am going to die!”
Luckily Leslie and I never had those moments at the same time as each other.

We have lived in our current home for about 5 years.  In those 5 years we have invited strangers over a total of zero times.  However, the State (in all it’s wisdom) saw fit to send an average of one visitor a week to check on us, check on the boys, check on the house, etc.  We liked the people we interacted with and had good experience with our agency.  But come on, I am an introvert.  Leave me alone!

Approximately %30 of my two-car garage is dedicated to child transportation (bikes, scooters, strollers, different kinds of scooters, etc. )  That doesn’t include the van parked in the middle.

There are a lot of ways to measure growth and progress.  But the surest indicator in our family was our level of comfort with each other and our situation.  It took time, but eventually a large family with two boys who were “probably permanent” was just the way it was.

I am skeptical of anyone who says anything happens instantly.  That is true of bonding.  Humans don’t bond permanently and instantly, that just isn’t how things work.  You didn’t fall in love on first sight, that is stupid Nicholas Sparks fiction.  We loved the boys quickly, we cared for them instantly, we liked them on-the-spot, but true deep bonding takes time. That’s just how it is.  It happens, and it is real.  But it is not magic. Remember, we may be nice, and you may like us, but we were strangers to the boys on day one.  They needed time too.

The boys were placed in our home when the state thought adoption was immenant.
But for a myriad of reasons: both relational and beuracratic,
adoption was forever “just around the corner”
I explained in earlier posts that the foster care system wants to keep kids with their birth parents,  and that is what it does.  You wouldn’t want it to be easy of the State to “Un-Parent” you, would you?  Don’t worry, it’s not easy.

I am sorry to say this, it sounds so rude, because I know what you mean when you say this (and you mean something very kind).  But:  Kids who are raised by someone other than their parents are not lucky.  Lucky kids have two great parents who are healthy, stable, and capable.  I am sorry to do that to you.

The End of Part One

You could say that my calling to adoptions started around 1999 (see part one).
Leslie and I formally began considering our options around 2009
We became licensed foster care parents in 2013
And we adopted the boys in 2015.
I feel like this is sort of an anti-climactic end to the very longs story.
Like, after enduring two obnoxious cliffhangers in the previous posts,
you deserve more than broad overview with no drama.

But so much of our life with the boys is just regular life.
We do father/son things.  We are Mom and Dad.
We have fun, we get worn out.
We laugh and yell.

It’s like the great irony of this whole thing,
Sensing such a high calling, then pursuing it with our whole lives…
And at the end of the day we are just doing something ordinary, we are just being parents.

So there it is.  The end, for now….