Strong Enough?

Mr. Something read through my posts yesterday and when I asked him if he had anything thoughts on my musings his one comment was, “I guess I just didn’t realize how decided you were.” I was a bit surprised by this because I don’t feel decided at all but I do know that every time I have come up with a point for the “con” list I immediately come back with a “pro.”

Today’s thoughts are all about age. When we originally talked about the idea of foster care adoption we both loved the idea of a child between four and nine years old. This goes back to my original feelings of not ever feeling compelled to have a baby in my life. Since this idea has been on the table my kid radar has definitely been turned up. Every interaction I have with a child I find myself thinking, “What if this child was the one that was available for adoption? How would I feel about it then?” Mr. Something says that I’m shopping for children but I’ve never given children younger than my own elementary students much notice. What I see it as is careful data collection.

Maybe I’m getting scared of the challenge of a child with eight or nine years of life with another family (or families.) The trauma of being taken away from their families and homes is unimaginable to me. Children don’t understand that a different placement could be “for the better.” When you are a child you think that everyone’s home and family is like your own, they don’t understand abuse or neglect because in many cases they don’t know life any differently. Am I strong enough to take on these challenges?

Family Stick Figure

I told Mr. Something that I’m starting to think of younger children (two through four years old) and he was a bit taken aback. His taken aback-ness was great though, he feels strongly about helping an older child and his conviction was affirming. I immediately felt myself leaning back toward our original THP idea. Although, I’m not closing any possibilities, I just know that I have a lot more self-exploration to do. I would love feedback from anyone that has experience with opening their home to an “older” foster child (five and up?) Looking for guidance!

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What’s in a name?

I was never the sort of girl that dreamed about her wedding day. I didn’t know what sort of dress I wanted, colors, flowers, or cake until the ring was on my finger and I started picking up wedding magazines at the grocery store. Nope, I always skipped over the wedding in my daydreams and went straight to the life beyond. The house was nothing short of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s legendary Green Gables, with perhaps a little less ocean and a few more mountains. There was always a smattering of animals, definitely a dog and a cat, maybe a horse and some chickens or ducks? There was a loyal, romantic, hard-working husband… always a faceless shadow in the daydreams, and there were children, two children. I’ve named these children hundreds of times in those daydreams. In high school their names were Brooke and Elliot, later their names evolved through stages of unique and contemporary to timeless and classic. I’ve looked up meanings and followed ancient legends and lore, determined to find names that my maybe someday children would be proud of and love.

With this latest someday idea of foster care adoption and all of the thoughts and concerns that come with it, I realized yesterday that I would be giving up that simple gift of bestowing a name on another human being. It seems like such a small thing but I’ve seen those bridezillas on T.V. that have been dreaming of their wedding dress since they were four years old and if they can lose their minds over a sweetheart neckline or a halter then I am justified in letting this worry at me a bit.

My husband and I are in a unique position, as far as we know, we are fertile. At that many people would say that we are crazy to be considering foster care adoption over having our own children. I think it makes it more excusable for many people… Well, they had to adopt since they can’t have children of their own. Not that I’m going to let other people make this decision for me, but we have two very different sides of the same coin here. Biological children or adoption? If the decision was between IVF or adoption then other cut and dry factors could be brought into play. Cost, emotional toll, health concerns, etc. Our options, as of right now, are wide open so something like naming my own children is a factor, as small as it may seem in the grande scheme of things.

I have been reaching out into the blogging world to hear the stories of others that have pursued adoption for various reasons. One blogger was building a list of reasons to adopt (I wish I had saved the link so I could give credit where credit is due but as I’m reading under the covers on my iPhone in the wee hours of the night I’m not always so organized with my thinking.) She wrote that she’s looking forward to not expecting her children to be like her but being able to help them discover who they are along with them. I love this! This should be written on the wall in any home with children, biological or not!

So what’s in a name? Is there a neatly planned garden in my future with plants sprouting up next to their meticulously labeled stakes or is it a field of wildflowers blooming unexpectedly in the sunshine? I never have been much of a gardener…

The next great [fill in the blank]

We have agreed to each tell one friend, for now, about our idea of pursuing foster care adoption. I can’t see our families being anything but supportive but we want to be more sure before the world knows. We want to make up our minds for ourselves. Mr. Something ended up talking to a work friend who is engaged to a woman that has two preteen children from a previous marriage. He provided fabulous insight and answered tricky questions like, “Do you think they will ever feel like yours?” I have yet to tell a friend, the moment, the conversation hasn’t presented itself yet. I am excited to talk about it, which is probably why I have pursued this blog.

A few days ago, we had friends of ours over for dinner and board games. One of the games we played involved a certain amount of drawing. My husband, having gone to art Man Drawing Clip Artschool, is extremely creative and artistic. I have also always had quite the imagination and a fair amount of natural artistic talent. Our friends made a comment something like, “Man, your children are going to be ridiculously talented!” Mr. Something and I exchanged a quiet look and we had our first THP moment that didn’t inspire a secret high-five. The potential of maybe someday biological children is a very real “con” on the list. What if our own biological children could be the next great [fill in the blank]? Art school, film school, music, design, the possibilities are endless… we can’t deny our own innate creativity what would that look like doubled and and divided into a miniature us?

comets,doors,key to the future,metaphors,shooting stars,skeleton keysThe argument goes the other way as well. I look at the faces of the children in the photolisting and think, “What could they make of themselves if they had the comfort and stability of a forever home?” How much more rewarding would it be to know that you are opening doors for a child that might otherwise be backed into a corner?I’m not setting out to be named a Saint but the selflessness of this option stirs something within me like no other someday does.

I have always had a certain amount of curiosity in what our own biological children could be like. Would they get his hazel eyes and my curly hair? It was always a curiosity more akin to a science experiment than a life decision. Am I really willing to walk away from that curiosity? Couldn’t we always start with foster care adoption and expand our family with a biological child later or would that be detrimental to the well-being and stability of the child we adopted into our home? I don’t know how I feel about that.

Questions. Questions. Thoughts. Thoughts…

The Beginning

I am Mrs. Something, almost thirty and married to my college sweetheart for almost three years. Barely a day goes by that someone doesn’t drop the “baby” hint my way. Close friends, family, colleagues… It amazes me how presumptuous people have become about the topic. The very first morning of our honeymoon, the woman serving us breakfast left us with a, “Come back next year with your babies!”  No matter where it comes from I always laugh it off with a comment about my house being full enough with two cats and a dog or the standard, “We’re in no hurry.” Then follow it with rant to anyone that will listen about the rudeness, in my opinion, about the questions and comments. “What if we were trying and couldn’t get pregnant? What if I had just miscarried? What if we don’t plan on having children?” After being on the receiving end of it I now hold asking someone about future children in the same light as asking a woman, that you don’t know, when she’s due. You don’t go there because you just don’t know.

The truth of the matter is that the idea of having a baby has never taken root within me. I’ve always seen children in my future but I could never picture myself pregnant. I don’t gush over pregnant women and insist on rubbing their bellies and when the newborns arrive I’ve never jumped up to get in line to cuddle them and exclaim over their tiny fingers and toes. Babies don’t do it for me. With thirty approaching, of course, I’ve been thinking about the whole mess of it. When I have shared my misgivings about getting pregnant I’ve gotten one extreme answer to another. “No one is ever really ready, you just have to go for it!” to “You shouldn’t get pregnant until your body is ready to nurture and mother. It’s not fair to bring a child into the world if you don’t already feel that maternal instinct calling.” I have tended to side with the latter of the two opinions, but that’s also the opinion that keeps my world safely the same and doesn’t involve everything that comes with babies. Besides if someone was looking for advice about marrying someone, people wouldn’t say, “It’s okay if you don’t really want to marry him, you just have to go for it!” Why is that okay when talking about bringing another human being into the world?

Conflicted. Waiting to hear a clock ticking or a gush of baby fever at the sight of a newborn. Nothing.

I often shared this sentiment with my husband. He is amazing with children but once upon a time when he was in high school and we started dating he didn’t want kids. He later joined me on the “kids someday” boat but someday wasn’t getting any closer for either of us. In the same way we would have conversations about just spending our life traveling the world as DINKs (double income no kids) I tossed out the idea of adopting a baby instead of having one of our own. Maybe a baby from another country (oh how trendy) the idea of bringing another culture into our family was intriguing to me. It was thrown on the maybe someday pile along with having children of our own and we’d go on with our lives. That is until about a week ago.

I am a self-professed internet junkie. You could throw out my TV and I might not notice for days but if the internet goes down I’m a lost puppy. I enjoy “putzing” through blogs and websites. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Realtor.com, PetFinder… the list goes on and on. A little over a week ago I once again found myself on a website about international adoption, scanning lists of countries and imagining all the maybe somedays. Something made me adjust my search to domestic adoption, another maybe someday, why not? But I soon found myself browsing page after page of smiling couples asking to be chosen as adoptive parents of newborns. Stories of innumerable miscarriages and infertility accompanied by smiling hopeful photos of happy couples with their arms around each other and I felt like a complete jackass. Mr. Something and I have never tried to get pregnant so I am only left to assume that we are two fertile people. If that is the case, who am I to swoop in and post my picture next to these couples that are willing to do anything to get a baby. The domestic infant adoption maybe someday quickly got removed from the pile, but I was okay with that, babies don’t thrill me anyway, remember?

Feeling like a greedy baby-snatcher I steered my internet search to a different type of domestic adoption, older children and, surprisingly, a new maybe someday blossomed. There were photo listings of thousands of children in the foster care system in need of families. They ranged from three years old to eighteen. Many had severe special needs, all had emotional trauma (well understood, children are generally taken from their birth parents for various reasons and put into foster care.) Their profiles said things like “…hopes to go camping someday…” “…would love to have a family with a dog…” My heart swelled and before I knew it I was swooning. Swooning like those women I always watched from afar as they cooed over each other’s babies and talked of their ache for another. Why couldn’t we be the forever family that keeps that five year old from becoming an eighteen year old in the system? I was captivated. Here was a maybe someday that didn’t feel so maybe, was it a definitely someday?

I sat on the idea for two days before bringing it up to Mr. Something. Even then I had barely thought of anything else and was giddy about the idea. It was over dinner on St. Patrick’s Day with a glass of sangria and a margarita between us (the wait was shorter at the Mexican restaurant.) I tossed it out casually to test the waters but it quickly evolved into discussion, serious discussion, and excitement, serious excitement. Determined not to get my hopes up I let it simmer for a day but the discussion came up again and again.

He was on board. It felt right. More right than any other maybe someday ever had. For the first time it was a crystal clear future and we were making a plan. I was given full permission to research the process to my heart’s content and we set a goal… one year. One year to think on it, one year to replace an old car and take care of career goals. One year before the next move. Classes, homestudies, approval, all of these steps that I am just now learning about can be taken without committing to the idea. We have time, we’ve always had time but now we have a definitely someday. 

I have always been a private person and knew that I’d never be one to advertise “My husband and I are trying” or “I found out I was pregnant today!” Because anything can happen and why would I possibly want to drag my circumstances, good or bad, across everyone else’s filter. I didn’t want to advertise this idea quite yet. It has only been a week and day, but since it has come up on a daily basis my husband has deemed it the Tiny Human Project or THP. There’s something comfortable about saying, “So I was thinking about THP and…” or when we shared a particularly touching moment with a friend’s four year old we secretly high-fived to THP, taking each good moment as another checkmark in the “pro” list.

I am Mrs. Something, for now, quietly reaching out into the endless sources of information on adopting children from the foster care system. I am hoping this blog will help to connect me with others considering this choice and those that have pursued this path. 357 days left to know for sure but tonight, on day 8, maybe has been kicked to the curb and there’s a beautiful someday on the horizon.