Friday, June 30, 2006

Last Step Before the Wait!

Our homestudy writer-upper will be here in a half hour. The hub and I got up early (I was too excited to sleep) and did some yardwork. I now have a throbbing, huge blister on my thumb, but the lawn looks great.

This meeting should be fairly painless, she's a wonderful lady and she seems to lurrrve us. Very Very Very Exciting that this is almost done, so soon after starting, and that we are that much closer to The Boys.

Because we're the homestudy superheroes that we are, we are continuing on our fasttrackedness, and will be ready by the 10th or so. Rawr!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Big Old Wall of Text, but with paragraphs.

I have wanted to adopt from foster care, or just be a foster parent, since I was twelve. The Hub and I agree that biological babies can wait, since right now there are thousands of kids who are already here who are going to get older whether someone adopts them or not.

Our aim is not only to hug and kiss and love up, but to give them a better chance at normality, whether that is though the "day to day" things like getting tucked in at night, or through the big things, like learning how to have a non-scary, healthy sexual relationship with an appropriate partner (for example). We do know that there are kids out there we couldn't help -- we just aren't equipped -- but we believe that we'll be able to make a difference in at least a few lives.

The Hub and I went into research phase about a year ago. Initially, I was thinking of a single teenager. The Hub blew me away by suggesting adopting a sibling group of teenagers -- I figured I was dropping a big enough bomb with the idea of one.

So we'd been talking about this, back and forth, for about 10 months when I went to our state's listing of waiting children for about the fortieth time, and all of a sudden I knew it was time to get into the system. The time for talking had just come to an end. Yes, I had a strong emotional reaction to three photographs and seven paragraphs. I'm a sucker. My guts twisted up because I couldn't drive three hours north and scoop these boys up in my arms that night, then immediatley take them to an attachment therapy Summer camp, or some such.

This might sound strange, but when the light turned on in our heads, we did everything we could to turn it off. Turns out we sucked at talking ourselves out of foster-adopt. Even though we read everything we could to dissuade us and tried to make our friends and family say "YOU. Are. INSANE.," we kept going forward, and even though we are sometimes scared out of our minds, there is a certain calm.

As it stands now, my husband and I are about ten days away from certification through the state for foster-adoption. We are working with a non-profit agency, and since our focus is a waiting sibling group of 2 boys, one a teen, the other elementary age, they have fasttracked us.

Since we can't know privacy-related items about the boys until we're certified, the information we have is limited. What we do know: they've been in state care a "very short time," according to the SW. They have two sisters who "belong to someone else" (not clear if that means they're with a birthparent, relative, or adopted through the state) and they have to have an adoptive family who is willing to keep up contact between all four of them. (No idea if the sisters are 4 months old or 17 years old, we're kinda thinking they're between the boys' ages.) The caseworker LOOOOOOVES the older boy, and says that "he's been a super trooper through all this." No, no clue what "all this" entails, just that they have suffered "a lot of loss in the last year." The SW tells us that they very much want to be adopted, that their need level is "very basic," and that the only hurdle they have is the ten year age gap. They love dogs and take very good care of pets. They both get straight A's right now, and the older boy is taking honors classes. They both make and keep friends.

Since talking to their social worker a week and a half ago, the Hub and I have allowed ourselves to relax a little bit. There is none of the "these children should be the only kids in the home" or "he will need extra time and understanding to bond with his new family" wording in their profile, as there is with so many kids in our state's profiles.

We do know that we have to be careful, ask the right questions, not let emotion take control. I promise, we won't be blinded by puppydog eyes.

The Hub and I have introduced ourselves to The Boys' social worker (we emailed, she called) so she knows we're coming up through the system at breakneck pace. I've read Adopting the Hurt Child, Parenting the Hurt Child, Adopting the Older Child, Attaching in Adoption, Love and Logic, Helping Children Cope with Seperation and Loss, and It's a Boy! I've passed these books onto my mother, so my family can be familiar with some of the issues we will be working with. I comb through forums and blogs on adoption. I've had conversations with attachment therapists in my area. The house is 5-year-old-proofed. I've got a list of questions to ask The Boys' social worker, another for their current foster parents, another for last year's teachers. I've got a list of talking points for teacher meetings should they come live with us. I have a list of family policies (things like, "We do not yell at each other. We never hit. Thursday is family date night.) There are other things, but I'm running out of steam. This post turned out to be really long.

Tell me what else to do to prepare for (possibly) bringing these boys home. Are we insane? What advice do you have? Cmon, ladies, disillusonment time! I'm good for it!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Good Stuff I Get to Think About, when no one else is watching.

I have to confess: I let myself get carried away with thinking about The Boys. I look at their photo and seven paragraph description each day. I have adoption announcements picked out. I look at the Pottery Barn Kids and Teen websites for bedding and furniture. I've already made an appointment (that I can cancel if things go awry) with an attachment therapist on the assumption that any kids adopted from foster care will need help adjusting to a new home and new insta-parents. I have a calendar with the date our homestudy is supposed to be completed circled, and I X out the days as I wake up. I think about taking the oldest to First Friday. I think about taking the youngest to amusement parks. If it weren't Summer, I'd be at their prospective schools talking to teachers. Most of all, I wonder what they are like, what their voices sound like, if their eyes are as sad as they seem or if its just a grainy photograph, and if they will like us. I want them to like us. I want to like them.

I Spend Time Thinking About Worthless Stuff, and I like it that way.

So do I still get to be a video game addict after I become a parent? Think my kids will like World of Warcraft? Will my full tier 2 priest impress them? How about the tier 1 druid? Maybe the hunter or the mage? Will they want to play with me, or will they reject this video game, and all the others? Or will they love video games, just not the ones we have in the house? How will I force my child to play video games as a way to bond with me? Could I even do it? Maybe I should ask their social worker if they like video games... but in a concerned, "oh, by the way, how much time do they spend sitting in front of the computer each day?" sort of fashion instead.

Imagine Me Chanting This While Jumping on the Couch.

It is a week later, and a lot more of the unfun stuff is done.

The unfun stuff is almost done.
The unfun stuff is almost done.
The unfun stuff is almost done.

Sure, I'm responsible enough and non-spazzy enough to raise two random kids. Suuuuuure.

But in the last 7 days, we have had all home inspections, TB tests, doctors appointments, recopied paperwork that was lost somewhere in the vast sea of paperworkdom, read a few more books, and scheduled all our home visits for this upcoming week. The woman who's going to write up our homestudy seems cool. Ultrablonde hair vs. the grey bun I'd been assuming, that kind of stuff. Plus, she's sworn up and down to our agency that she'll have us done and ready to submit on kids (THE BOYS!) by July 15th. That shit has to count for something, no? I'm like a red-tape navigating SUPERHERO and shit.

In other words, from start to finish, that'll be a maximum of 6 weeks from orientation to finished product. I'll tell ya, I'm freaking exhausted with all the paperwork. There's a reason this process usually takes four to six months.

We did play hooky from our First Aid and CPR classes on Saturday. Nine hours just seemed like waaaay too much to spend learning how to call for help, especially coming on the heels of a very procedure-oriented week.

So now, all that's left to do is FA/CPR, a class on policies, and our home visits. And we have to get me some life insurance. Turns out that's a requirement. But other than that, not much left to cross off the list. The picturebook even turned out very well. Only took 10 hours and 16 pages and a crash course in Powerpoint. Yay me.

We went and saw the Bowling for Soup concert at Emo's in Austin on Thursday. My darling hub has been going to their concerts since 2000 when they were strictly a Texas band. Tell ya what, it was a disappointment. And I like the band. I suppose I'm just a big fan of the groups that are livewires in person, with boring CDs, instead of the other way around. Even the chorus of "Kamikaze Shots" didn't do it for me this time around. Perhaps the boys are getting old the same way the fans from 2000 are getting old. Maybe we'll start bringing them Alka-Seltzer shots, should we go listen to them again.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Welcome to my Words.

Introductory Ramblings, very sweet and benign cause I'm hoping to show this to little eyes in a few months.

Okie dokes. My husband and I are working on adopting children from the state foster care system.

We've completed PRIDE training, learned physical restraints, filled out about three hundred sheets of paperwork and homework, forced our loved ones to write glowing reccomendations, and are now at the phase where we need CPR/First Aid classes (Saturday), TB tests (tomorrow), Fire Safety inspection (tomorrow), and our Medical Histories (Friday). I also have to connect with my inner scrapbooker (bleh) and put together a family book. I'm planning on recruiting my graphic designer sister for that, however.

Seeing as how we only began this process in earnest three weeks ago, we're feeling pretty good. We're moving along at a good clip, and will be done with all our forms, visits, and paperwork by the end of this month. We're expecting a call this week to set up our home visits, as we've been "fast-tracked" by our lovely non-profit agency. So far as we can tell, the only thing we'll be missing come next weekend, from our end, at least, is our Policy and Procedure class, which takes place during the first week of July.

We are actually frantic with excitement. The whole reason we are going into adoption at this point is because of two boys we saw on a state photolisting. One look at their faces, some critical reading of their bio, and we were hooked. The aforementioned fast-tracking is so that we have a shot at these boys, since no one really knows how long it will take, or how little time it will take, for their case to go to decision. I read often that there are usually many families considered for waiting children, but is that just the littlest ones? What about a sibling group that includes a teenager and a kindergardener? Are they less likely to be "pinged" by prospective parents with homestudies in hand? Or will we actually have enough time, so that in 3 more weeks when our homestudy is complete, we will be able to throw our hats in the ring? All I know, at this point, is that their social worker told me on Wednesday that they were still available, and as long as they are on the website, they will still be available-ish. Most of the time, she said, the worker gets the most inquiries in the first 24 hours, and children are pulled from the site when that thresshold has been reached.

I have to admit, I am in love.