Friday, May 26, 2017

Scope for the Imagination

I am such a fan of Netflix original series. The number one reason is, of course, strong content. The second reason is that when the new seasons come out, they come out all at once and I can watch as much of them as I please. When I saw they were re-making the Anne series, I knew I found a treat.

Seeing the movie Annie (the good one, with Carol Burnett) is what first made me want to adopt kids (at some ripe, single-digit age). It just seemed terrible to grow up in an orphanage. Reading the Anne of Green Gables books and seeing the Canadian television series as a kid made me convinced it was a good idea. I loved the Avonlea stories so much, that for years we watched the Disney (?) series and my parents got me lots of Avonlea-themed books. Anyway.

I was watching Anne with an "E" on Netflix tonight and it made me "longful." The hardest part about this part of the process so far (because at two weeks into the matching phase, I'm sure there are plenty more parts coming that will be challenging) is knowing that our kids are out there - with personalities and lives and daily joys or sorrows - and that they might be thinking that no one really wants them.

The idea that our children are worrying about that right now is really sad. I know that parents can't prevent all the bad things, or even most of them, from happening to their children. However, at the least a child should feel like someone wants them to be their family forever. That our daughters or sons don't yet know we are here waiting to love them in person. That they have had a whole lifetime without us ...

I felt more like an expectant mom today than I have yet. First, I read a Facebook post by someone who was talking about how we shouldn't use the term "mom-to-be" for pregnant women because they are already mothers. True. But, for me, frustrating because - like so many parts of adopting instead of biologically having a family - that's just another part of motherhood I am going to miss. I try to shrug these things off. I'm so happy about adopting; but I'll be honest, I still think about what it might be like to have a child actually grow inside of me. Then I remember the diapers and not sleeping parts and shake it off. :)

After that, I read about a family that adopted a sibling set of seven. They already had one child at home. "And then there were ten" seems like the monkeys jumping on the bed in reverse to me. However, the reason why this made me feel more like a future mom was because someone else saw it and posted it on my wall. A friend from high school who I have not seen in at least a decade saw this story and shared it with me because she remembered I am going to be an adoptive mom. Our own form of expecting.

Most people can't tell me stories about when they were this far along. Even amongst families adopting from foster care we're a bit of a minority since most children in care are adopted by their foster families. But I've never been one to do major life events traditionally. And RJ has never been one to care about tradition over the end result.

So we're here. Waiting. It's not exactly Green Gables, but hopefully it will still have plenty of "scope for imagination" for our children. A home where they are already loved, whether they know it or not.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Getting ready

We are still waiting to be approved, but with all of the paperwork finished, my mind has moved on to getting our home ready for future children. Number one on the list is working with our dog, Beckett, so he won't be aggressive to people who try to come in the door. He is a lover, but we really want him to get along with our future children (and any guests they try to bring over).

Number two is a massive garage sale. There is so much stuff stored in the playroom and guest room closets that absolutely cannot stay there should we bring a child home. Part of the process is just packing up things we don't need and organizing them so I can find them again if they go into a crate (like all of my crafting supplies, sheet music, quilting fabric, VHS tapes I still haven't converted to digital, and a small library worth of books). It isn't that the games and age-appropriate books can't stay in their rooms, but all of the training says things will be destroyed or broken. If I care about it, best it stays in a safer space until the hardest part of the transition is over.

Number three is rearranging the kitchen cabinets. RJ and I are both tall, so where things are in the cabinets is not really an issue. I imagine we do not want our children climbing on the counters to get to the cereal, or reaching over the gas stove for the oil and vinegar.

Number four is the garage. This is the scariest part for me, because I know that as fast as I clean it out, cleaning the upstairs rooms will inevitably mean that more things get stored in the garage. Our one car garage. That has a car in it. And the trash and recycling cans. And the cleaning supplies and scary chemicals we aren't allowed to have near the kids without supervision. Oh, and all the things we already store in the garage like lawn chairs, a tent, holiday boxes, a crate of items from my childhood, and Costco-sized portions of paper towels and toilet paper (which I am pretty confident I should make sure there is room for).

We're going to need more power plugs for additional devices and binders for all of their paperwork, and some kind of system that does not involve me dumping baskets of clean laundry on the bed in the guest room to make room in the dryer.

And then, I need to be getting myself ready. How am I going to take time for myself? How am I going to maintain my relationship with my husband? In addition to my mental health, should I also be getting in better shape (yes!)? Kids like to run around and I should at least try to keep up.

I'm not actually worried about these things, but I wonder about them. I wonder because I could be doing something proactive this weekend, but instead I read a book. I enjoyed the quiet of our home. The truth is, it'll all get done by whenever they arrive somehow. I am excellent at managing to a specific deadline and finishing well-past midnight the night before. I also have RJ and an amazing team of friends, family, and professionals who are going to be right here to help.

I like getting ready. Planning and preparation are my happy place. All we need now is a deadline.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Individual Home Study Interview

I recently got to meet with our case-worker for the next step in our home study; the individual interview.

Step 1: Write an auto-biography.
This part came a bit more naturally to me as I (obviously) have some experience writing about my life for others. It was a bit weird though because I was supposed to frame the piece around 13 questions my case-worker was particularly interested in. My tip for those going through the process: be as thorough as possible and don't worry about anyone besides your case manager seeing it. This is just a tool to help them know what to ask you.

Step 2: Try not to freak out as the date approaches.
Wildly, epic-ly failed at this. My advice: Find someone else to tell you how to not get nervous for things that have a big impact but are seriously not that big of a deal, because my husband will confirm that I suck at this. :)

Step 3: Arrive freakishly early.
Stopping for lunch included, there will potentially be absolutely NO traffic the day you finally leave early to get somewhere on time. I'm not complaining, just saying, the fates are probably on your side.

Step 4: Answer super benign questions that make you wonder why you were worried in the first place.
My advice: Do know how old - or at least birth years - for your family. Ask questions that you think of while you are talking. Make it a conversation instead of a ridiculously personal interview.

Step 5: Bond with your case worker.
For me, it was talking about The Fosters (and noticing the Dumbledore wand from her desk was not in the pencil holder anymore). It was helpful to think of her on friendlier terms since she is, you know, helping us pick out our child and all.

It was an overall positive experience. My interview lasted for awhile because I had also brought our next round of finished paperwork and about 30 kids from AdoptUSkids that we thought had potential. (That's a whole other post of thoughts.)

The best part was that I left feeling more expectant than ever. Our child could be with us by this summer. LESS than six months from now! It was a good day to be a future mom.

Love always, Heather

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Hopeful Adventure

There are a LOT of scary things happening in the world right now (particularly if your world is America and you appreciate science and using facts as a method of logical argument). I could focus on that. I am focused on that. But at some point, to have a life I enjoy, I have to talk about the good things happening in my world too.

The best thing happening in OUR world right now is that our family is about to get larger by at least one small person. That's right, we are planning g to adopt through U. S. foster care. We're hoping to adopt a child between four and eleven years old.

So far we have taken classes through Northern Virginia Family Services about how to be a good parent to children coming from the foster system. We gave a large check to Catholic Charities to begin our home study, and we filled out piles of paperwork. The home study is going to a new level this week as I have my first one-on-one interview. I'm anxious and excited to get started.

My motivation for changing the blog name and starting to write about this process is to be an open door to others who are going through the process (or just have questions!). If I was pregnant, I could post pictures of my growing belly or have semi-regular reveals about gender or birth-plans or results of sonograms. Instead, we're going tone working with teams of case managers and advocates to find the perfect addition to our family; a forever family for a child who is waiting to come home.

Adoption does not seem to have quite as much pre-arrival excitement as the nine months of pregnancy. There are few to no women in my social circle who have grown their family this way. There are fears from well-meaning friends and family about what kind of child we "could wind up with." It seems inherently wrong to approach our future child this way - quietly, with professionals, and little to no fanfare.

I wonder about and pray for our future child. I have so many questions for them. I wonder if they will like me or compare me to their biological mother. I can't quite get their room ready yet because our child will arrive with more than just a personality based on movement in the womb, but with a soul that has lived and seen hardships in their short years on this Earth; a soul with opinions and style all their own.

So while I will only mention it where it seems socially acceptable in my circle of friends, here I will talk about this journey. It did not begin by peeing on a stick and I won't have to give up wine or soft cheeses, but my journey to be a mom is just as valid and worthy of celebration. Here I will celebrate and talk about some of the more arduous parts of the process. This is the place where the evolution of our family will be documented. There won't be pictures from the side (though now I am brainstorming how I could make that work in some way) or discussion about my changing body (though I imagine gray hair is probably in my future).

There will be celebration. There is joy. And two adult humans and two sweet dogs are about to get a permanent house guest. Let's get excited!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Self Sabotage

I am amped up and unmotivated simultaneously. I'm hungry, but too lazy to fix myself dinner. There is a strong chance I will eat cake tonight and an equally weak chance I will meet my fitness goal for the day. 

I am looking forward to summer. Theoretically, I will stop sabotaging myself and eat, sleep, and intellectually stimulate myself just as soon as my pool of responsibilities drops from 145 students plus my personal life to just my personal life. 

Perhaps this is less sabotage and more procrastination. Either way, bring on summer. 

Always, Heather