I cannot look at children right now. Each time I do, and each time I let myself consider a child or a sibling group, I affix a slice of my heart to them. I am a girl who needs to claim, who needs to consider, who needs to relate. By now, though, I am exhausted. As I have said before, I am Adoption Magic.
With the first children, The Boys, I fantasized hourly. I imagined painting their bedrooms, introducing them to our dogs, sending out adoption announcements, going to track meets, building lego cities, baking pizzas for sleepovers, teaching them to drive, hosting Thanksgiving dinners, helping study for AP tests, visits to their sisters, inviting their sisters down for two weeks during the Summer and sleeping in quilt tents in the living room, high school and kindergarten graduations, college move in day... who am I kidding, I was imagining filling up their side of the aisle at their weddings, waiting in the hospital while their children were born, and wondering if they'd bring me comfy slippers and red tulips when I am a happily demented ninety year old living in a nursing home.
During the certification process, I looked at everything I did as doing it for these kids. Yay, I'm so excited to take the cat to get her rabies shot, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! Woot, mowing the lawn is great, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! Writing this six page autobiography is the perfect way to spend a weekend, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! PRIDE classes rock the house, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! Learning about the depraved things parents do to their children is tolerable, because I'm doing it for The Boys! Teach me that CPR, cause it is going to bring me closer to The Boys!
When The Boys came off the waiting children list, I felt like I'd swallowed a black hole. Because I had built up so much for them in my mind, put all that energy toward them and out into the world, I felt all those weeks of wishing, planning, hoping, and loving rushing back at me, back to my heart, collapsing it, and disappearing. Crush Syndrome for the soul, I suppose. Turns out the only medical treatment is amputation.
I made it through our homestudy meeting that morning. Then I threw up. Then I cried. That night, I was the saddest and drunkest girl in the world. The next morning, I was able to remind myself that The Boys now belonged to someone, that they would have a family, that they would be taken care of, and that maybe a piece of them had already been made better by whatever cosmic force I'd released into the universe toward them.
By the end of the holiday weekend, I'd felt the worst, and had reconciled myself to thinking that maybe The Boys had been placed into the family that had their sisters, or maybe it was someone they already knew, but wherever they were going, it had to be a great place, since only a week before they'd not had any prospects coming around the bend. (Noticing a pattern here? Yes, I have a rich inner life.) At our social worker's suggestion, I'd written an email to The Boys' caseworker the morning they were removed from the photolisting regarding their status. When I saw her name in my inbox, my heart only stopped for a moment. I expected a cursory reply, and a reminder that there were thousands of children available, and thanks, come again.
I was not expecting to be told that The Boys were placed on hold until their profile could be updated to include three other siblings, at which placement would be pursued for all five children together. I threw up. I wobbled into my husband's study, croaked the news, then went into the garage to forage for my emergency cigarette stash. I sat on the front step and cried, lighting three smokes off each other, then watching them burn down.
So they are still out there, hanging in limbo. Who knows when they will be ready for placement together, as their sisters' status may be legally resolved in a week, or not for two years, and the oldest is already so near aging out of foster care that every week is valuable. Add to that we don't know, and won't be told, anything about the three "new" children other than the fact of their existence, and this situation zooms past improbable and lands smack on impossible. And that's without discussing the mere idea of five children. They might age out of foster care, the oldest most certainly will. Because of their new fiveness, we will leave them in foster care and hope someone else will love them. We suck.
They will never know how much we wanted them. They will never know how we've walked away from them.