Baby Steps

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my blog world! Finally arriving at winter break after a chaotic fall has been glorious. During the school year that nagging stress of always having something to do for work becomes such a permanent part of myself that after a while I stop noticing it, that is, until it’s gone. Suddenly I can breath easier, the tension in my neck and shoulders loosens, my brain sighs and stretches like a cat waking up from a nap in the sunshine and I am free to explore the other recreational parts of my life that get buried by the needs of my 20 second graders. 

After our October orientation at the foster care agency I was simmering. Too busy or too stressed to even imagine a life with more responsibility, our Tiny Human Project slipped into the back of my mind once again. However, after a few weeks, it became apparent what was holding me up. It was the thought of Mr. Something’s cousin that we met over the summer. (See the story here.) In the little imaginary world that exists only in my “stuck in traffic” daydreams, Mr. Something’s cousin and girlfriend would realize that we could provide so much more for the daughter they were turning their backs on. Her grandmother would admit that she never wanted to or planned on raising a child at this point in her life and we would whisk that sweet little girl back to our home and show her the kindness and magic that can exist in the world. We’d, of course, want her to maintain a relationship with her grandmother and parents if possible, and would plan regular trips to her home state. It seemed like destiny that we began researching our Tiny Human Project just months before meeting her for the first time. What a sweet little imaginary world I had built for myself, but that sweet un-reality was keeping me from moving forward in our very real reality. We had to share our thoughts with the family. We had to offer to help our own family before we could ever think of helping another.

It was Thanksgiving. Mr. Something’s aunt, who is raising this little cousin, doesn’t have a phone but would be spending the holiday at his uncle’s house. It was our chance to talk to her, tell her our plans to help children in need and offer our own help to her. It’s not everyday that you call up a family member and say, “Hey! Would you like to give us your granddaughter?” Mr. Something had a bit more tact than that, something along the lines of “If we can help family first, that’s what we want to do.” But, as any person not caught up in tidy imaginary worlds would expect, she thanked us for offering but said she could never give her up.

It’s extremely hard to not pass judgement. I know that this won’t be the only time in this process that the idea of what is “best” for a child is in debate. Where she’s living, how she’s living, what experiences is she getting or not getting? That’s not for us to decide. Could we provide more? Yes. Is more better? It’s such a grey area. The hardest part is knowing that we will be spectators to this young girl’s life from now on. If her future is anything less than bright, the refusal of our offer will hurt even more. 

As hard as it was seeing the door to that possibility close, it was necessary. My imaginary world blurred and the faces of other children took her place. Mr. Something and I have some time off together this week. It’s our goal to fill out the application for the foster care agency and move forward into 2013. With that I wish you and your families all the best in the new year!

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