Passion and Weakness

question-marks2On Tuesday I received an email from the supervisor of foster care and adoptions at the agency we applied to. She thanked us for our application and shared that our assigned licensing representative would be getting in touch with us sometime within the next two to three weeks. As a courtesy she also included, “If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to contact me.”I was just thinking how amusing it would be to really contact her with ALL of the questions we have right now. The questions that we will eventually find answers to (What type of financial assistance comes with fostering?) along with the others that only life can answer (Can we handle this?) She may regret ever offering.

I am a teacher and this week I had to go to bat for one of my students. Some pretty big decisions were being made about this student’s education and whether or not the child belongs in the general education classroom. The special ed team was divided and quite a few were on the fence ready to be tipped one way or another. The weight of the decision pulled me down for days. Knowing that absolute failure or success could be possible with either decision, and only time would tell, was a terribly helpless feeling. The truth of the matter was that no one knew for sure what the “best” decision was. Yes, there were assessments and data but, as educators, we all knew that behind the numbers there is a child, a child with an educational future balanced in our hands.

In the final meeting, at the height of the debate, I simply lost it. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I am generally a pretty closed-off person emotionally, they are far from being stitched on my sleeve, however, when things get intense, if I get angry or frustrated, or simply feel completely helpless, as I did at that meeting, there’s no holding back the tears.  I was embarrassed. All I wanted to do was stand tall and make a poignant and confident case for what I believed in but all I could do was sit there and try to not let my tears turn into an ugly cry as my colleagues looked on.  Instant tears have always plagued me and ruined many moments of would-be triumph in situations that have tested me.  After what totalled up to be about two hours of conversations around this student, a compromise was eventually reached and we are bringing it to the parent on Monday. What her final say on the matter will be is yet to be determined.

Fighting so fiercely for this student, for needs that might not be far off from the needs of my someday children, rocked me. I want to be a strong and confident parent that can go to bat for their child when needed. I want to be able to stand up in a courtroom, a conference room, or a classroom and fight for what I think is right for their wellbeing without being reduced to tears and choked sobs. If I am so moved by this passion and determination for a student that is mine for only a school year, how is it going to compare to the ferocity with which I will want to fight for my someday children? Mr. Something may need to lead that charge. I’ll be sure to write notes for him. 🙂

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A Story to Share

I am very excited about this little post today. A few nights ago I was wandering through Blog Land, reading stories of the joys and frustrations of foster care when I came across a link posted in a comment thread. The link lead to the story of the Welstead family. Theirs is a journey that began with the opening of their hearts and home to foster care and lead to the adoption of their two beautiful girls. Their very special adoption day was captured and shared in this moving video. Now, I have seen my fair share of birth stories, photos, and montages, but none have moved me as much as the coming together of this family and their two precious girls. Thank you to Renee for her permission to share this piece her family’s story on my humble little blog. 🙂

the welsteads : a don’t give up story from WE ARE THE PARSONS on Vimeo.

 

Pomp and Circumstance

photoOn Friday, I stood in line at the post office with a large manilla envelope in my hands. Inside was the twelve page application to begin foster care licensing classes that Mr. Something and I sat down and started to fill out over a month ago. It ranged from basic demographic questions to the million dollar question: Why do you want to be an adoptive/foster parent? Forget the four little lines they allowed, our answer was typed, printed, and attached. Who could answer that in four lines? With that said, here’s what we had to say…

Through our experiences with students at [Mrs. Something’s] school we have quickly come to realize that the children that are the hardest to love are often the ones that need it the most. We are choosing adoption as the avenue to grow our family, not because we are unable to have children of our own, but because we recognize the undeniable need for safe, stable homes for children in the foster care system. We are particularly interested in cases that are most likely leading toward adoption. With our stable network of family and friends we would love the chance to provide not only a safe present but a bright and promising future for a child or children that have been victims of their own family situations. We understand the challenges involved in becoming adoptive/foster parents but know that the long-term rewards will outweigh the difficulties that we will face. We are excited to be taking our first steps on this journey!

It was a quiet personal moment, standing there at the post office, but at the same time it felt monumental. It reminded me of standing in line waiting to walk across the stage at my college graduation. AdobePhotoshopExpress_2013_02_11_19_45_15There were a few familiar faces around but no close friends near enough to talk to. We shuffled along in our line up a set of stairs and into the wing of the stage. College graduation, a giant step away from the safety of studenthood into the unknown, but we all were just silently shuffling forward, alone with our thoughts of the years leading up to that very moment. A quick name call, a smile and curt handshake from a stranger, and you are swept to the opposite side of the stage, back in your seat with an empty folder (the diploma would be sent in the mail) and left to wonder, “What’s next?”

Obviously the amount of work it took to come to this decision cannot compare to the work it takes to earn a college degree, but there was work, discussions, reading, research, stress, excitement, anticipation, and a sense of some sort of achievement standing there quietly in line. I was proud to be there, on the precipice of the next stage of my life.

Part of the reason it took us over a month to get this application prepared was the requirement of three non-relative references. Until recently, Mr. Something and I had agreed to only tell one person about our Tiny Human Project idea. We wanted to do the research and formulate our own opinions and beliefs  before we were inundated with everyone’s opinions (educated or not) about the matter. If we were to ask three non-related friends to be references, there were plenty of other people that needed to know first. So, we started telling people and the response, the amount of support that was immediately thrown our way, was an incredible feeling. It quelled the fears I had developed about people not understanding, of being openly against our choice. Plenty of them had concerns and questions, which we expected, but there was never a thought or concern that we hadn’t already considered. The overall reaction was genuine happiness and support which just reinforces my comment from our application above.

With our stable network of family and friends we would love the chance to provide not only a safe present but a bright and promising future for a child…

Mr. Something and I are so fortunate to have such an amazing network of friends and family. It is an integral part of our lives that we can’t wait to share with a child or children that don’t know what it’s like to be loved and supported by family and friends. So, the conversation is open. It wasn’t the caliber of a Facebook announcement but I am thrilled that I can share the next steps of this journey with the people that matter most.