Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I'm pregnant!!!!

And it's going to be a boy !!!  Probably 10-15 years old, but it looks like he'll be 15 when he arrives...

Wait.....What?!?!?! You're probably saying to yourself at this point.

Let me back up and explain.

Back when we were in Germany, my ex- and I were ACS (Army Community Service) Foster Parents.  At that time it was for infants and toddlers, since my ex- was a NICU nurse down at Landstuhl.  We did it a couple of times.  Gave me some experience with changing diapers and giving formula, which stood me in great stead when my two biological kids came along.

But I'm well past the diaper and getting barfed on stage.  So back in October, Robert and I were talking over dinner, when I was talking about my siblings (I come from a blended family.  We were the Brady Bunch before it was a TV show), and I mentioned that he needed a brother.... Then a couple of times while driving around in the car, I caught the PSA's about "You don't have to be a perfect to be a perfect parent."   Well, if there's anyone who is as about as far from perfect, much less being a perfect parent then me, I have yet to meet them.  Finally, one night in November, we went out to eat at Wendy's and there on the tray was a liner that talked about "Wendy's Wonderful Kids" and Adoption.  Bingo.  I took the tray liner and called them the next day.   It took six months of talking to my docs, the licensing social worker (and I will admit that in our first few meetings, discussing my health and medical conditions, I got the impression that she felt she would go through the motions, but I had about as much chance as getting approved as I did of sprouting wings and flying around the moon.  Not to mention, the "You're a single guy, okay Dad, why are you wanting to do this? Hairy-eyeball vibe.)  Anywho, I took the 29 hours of classes of dealing with kids that have endured all kinds of trauma in their lives, many simply unspeakable, and how to help them.  I learned how to become an educational advocate for these kids, how to be patient with their emotions, most of which will have nothing to do with me.  And to fight to get these kids the help they need and to provide a loving and stable home for kids who have been uprooted (some many times) from people they trusted.

I've been to one foster parent support group meeting, where I learned it's not the kids.  They adapt rather quickly (kids are fairly resilient), but most of the problems are caused by the adults (birth parents/families, overwhelmed/worked caseworkers, and a legal system that is well, farked beyond belief.)

But through it all there are the kids.  Most of the folks I went to class with were looking to foster/adopt infant or young girls, mostly young couples, I don't fault them for that, but having raised a daughter, I wouldn't go through that drama-filled nightmare again, even if you said I'd get the winning lottery numbers at the end....

So that first day of class when we went around and introduced ourselves and whether we wanted to foster or adopt, and what sex and age range we were willing to bring into our homes, I said "A 10-15 year old boy, to adopt."  The instructor/facilitator, got a huge smile on her face as she said "OH!!! We LOVE you, there are tons of teenage boys that no one want to even foster, much less adopt." I felt that I had made the right decision.

So much to the surprise of everyone, including me, (I did feel at every step they would come back and say "Thanks, but no thanks"), I got my license three months after I started the process in earnest.   Up to two boys (in the case of siblings) from 0-18 (which is the "standard" license). However, my licensing agency knows I'm looking at boys age 10-15.  I'm soooooooooo done with diapers.

Two days before I got my license in mail, I got a call from a caseworker.  She had a young man, but his needs were simply beyond my capabilities.  And I was crying when I told her that "No, I don't think he'd be a good fit for me or us."   I felt cold, cruel, and callous.  Here was a young man that needed a family, and before I even met him, I had to say "No."  I had signed up to do a job, and the first-time I was asked, I failed.  I failed him.  I hope that wherever he is, that his family is doing right by him.  I still feel guilty that I couldn't.  The caseworker was very understanding.  She explained that the last thing she wanted to place him in my home, only to discover in a few months that it was a bad fit, and would have to find him a new home.  She said my "No" truly was an act of kindness, even though I felt otherwise. The worst thing would be to place him here, with us, only to move him again, and destroy the bonds he would have formed.   Permanency was and is the goal, not bouncing around.

Then while we were on our way to Kansas City in early August, I got another call from a different caseworker.  She had a boy that would probably be a good fit.  A little behind in school, but had an Education Plan (I wouldn't have to start from scratch with his school), and he likes sports and the outdoors, and when could we come met him?  "Ummmm, in six days, we're out of town and won't be back until then."  A meeting was scheduled upon our return, but I was told that she had to keep looking and calling to find him a home.  I understood and hoped that he would still be "available", because I (we, Robert and I) were ready for him to come live with us, if he was agreeable after the meeting.  When we got back I called the caseworker.  Sadly, she had found him a home in our absence.  I had failed another child, and felt even worse.  I hope he is happy and healthy wherever he his and with loving a caring family. 

I again felt like a pathetic failure.  Here, once again, I was being asked to do what I had volunteered to do, and had worked hard to make happen, but when the call came, I dropped the ball.  I really should have turned around and gone back.  Robert moved out of his room and into the back bedroom, mostly because "I'll be the older brother, I get the bigger room." but also so his new brother would have a room to make his own.  I agreed that he could pick out paint, a new bed, and other "stuff" like bedding for his room.  Plus I/we had gone through several home visits/inspections to get to this point.  Not to mention the staggering amount of paperwork to be submitted, fingerprints, and more paperwork.  Strike Two.  I really suck at this Foster Parent thing...

So today, I got a call.  "We have a boy that needs a home, and think you might be a good fit."  She gave me his background (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and what did I think?  "When can we meet?"  Tomorrow?  "Great.  Set it up.  Give me a time and location and let's see what everyone thinks."  BTW, We are planning on going to SC on Saturday and we will be gone for a week.  If everyone agrees, I want to take him with us.  So you'll have to bust your hump on getting all the paperwork done, especially for us to take him out of state (Yes, you have get 30,000 signatures, stamps, and approvals to take a ward of the state across state lines.)   Oh, and I'll be damned if I leave him behind.  Once we all say yes, he's family, he goes with us.  Got it? 

And yes, I'll have to get permission for him to play sports, or go on Boy Scouts campouts or other outings. I can't sign any waivers, only the agency can since he's their ward, until I legally adopt.    Which means I will probably be a pain in someone's ass.  But I'm reeeeaaaaallllllllly good a that.  Get between me and MY kids and I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.  My understanding is it has gotten better, but it used to be that they wouldn't even let foster kids participate in park district or school sports or other activities because the state/fostering agencies refused to take on the liability.  What utter and complete Bullshit.   These kids have already been through enough trauma and heartbreak in their lives, and now you want them to be treated even more like "other" then they already feel.  Again.  It's the adults that are the assholes in this mess. Thankfully, there has been a 180 change and they want these kids to be as "normal" as possible and to go and do the things that their peers, family and friends are doing.  And you can bet your ass, that if my kid wants to play sports or do Boy Scouts or something like that, I will be dancing on someone's desk to make that happen for them.

One final note to those foster families that put their foster kids in "respite" care while they go on vacation with the rest of their "families"  There's a special level of hell for you bastards.  Especially the family that had their 5 year old foster daughter placed with another family for "respite" care while they went to Disneyworld.  Over her fifth birthday!!!!  You deserve to be repeatedly throat-punched, you heartless, selfish bastards.  I hope and pray you end up in the special level of hell they reserve for people who talk in the theater...


So if all goes well, I'll be the proud parent of a bouncing, baby 15 year old teenage boy tomorrow.   I do hope we choose each other, I'm looking forward to this journey....

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for making me ugly cry & scaring my kids...
    Can't wait to hear about your son!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for making me ugly cry & scaring my kids...
    Can't wait to hear about your son!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. God bless you, Dave. I'll be watching for part 2...

    ReplyDelete