Moving forward with adoption

I’m going to start by saying I think we made the wrong decision. Maybe. I’m still excited about domestic adoption, and I really, really hope it works for us. We’re expecting our profile to be available to expectant mothers by the end of the month! D is convinced we will be picked very quickly. I know the heartache that so many others have been through, so while I’m still hopeful, I’m a bit more realistic. I honestly don’t know WHY I still have hope after everything we’ve been through, but I guess that’s my nature.

Why do I think we made the wrong decision? Well, I thought for sure I’d want a newborn. We made the decision right before we had any foster babies. At that point, our youngest foster baby had come to us at 20 months. I love her still (and I get to see her still!), but a year later I was sure we’d never have a baby and I ached for a baby. The fact that an international adopted child wouldn’t come home until the age of 2 was really frustrating to me. Then we got N at 8.5 months, and that was awesome! I loved that age! I love that baby still, and I know I’ll probably never see him again. Six weeks later we got R at 6.5 months, and he was slightly delayed at the time, but that was a really fun age too. It made me think we had made the right decision to stick with domestic adoption over international adoption. And I still wanted a newborn, at least once in my life.

Then all our babies went home, and magically we got our newborn three weeks later, after almost two years of being foster parents. This was frustrating to me, as almost everyone we’d met through the whole foster approval process had taken in a newborn within a few months, and the vast majority of them were adopting (as a matter of fact, the only foster parents I’ve met who AREN’T adopting are the ones who are infertile – all the adopters have children of their own). And while our little newborn has gone to live with her family (who are capable of taking care of her, so yay!), I had my chance to have a newborn. And I’ve decided I think I like slightly older babies better, say 3-4 months. Luckily, newborns grow into 3-month-olds and 6-month-olds and 9-month-olds, so getting a newborn will still be awesome.

But I’m on a mailing list for international children who need families, and while the vast majority of them have cases that are too difficult for us to handle with two working parents, a two-story home, and limited family help, in the last few weeks we’ve received notifications for quite a few whose only health issue is that they have limb differences. D works with kids who have limb differences, he volunteers at a camp for kids with limb differences, and he has a limb difference himself. He actually works with a lot of kids who have been adopted from other countries, who were available for adoption because of their limb differences. When the older kids find out he’s trying to adopt, they always advocate for him to adopt from their home country (it’s pretty sweet actually). We’ve already decided that we want to do it, hopefully for our second child (since we’re still hoping domestic adoption works out for us for a first child). But knowing that the kids coming from other countries will be at least two years old, it makes me wonder if we’re doing this all out of order. Should we have done international adoption first? How long should we wait after adopting domestically (fingers crossed) before we try to adopt internationally? I just turned 40, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up

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Some thoughts on a newborn after (but really during) infertility

Having been through five years of infertility and counting, and six foster kids in less than two years, and attempting to adopt a newborn, and finally getting to parent a newborn for almost six weeks (while working full time!) I can say this pretty definitively: caring for a newborn is nothing compared to the minor hell of infertility or the major hell of foster care/trying to adopt. It’s actually quite delightful in comparison. Baby snuggles are the best.

Anyway. I’m 40 today, and expecting my latest foster baby to leave today also. I’m feeling very defeated.

Heartbroken, again

After bugging my social worker for weeks about help with finding daycare, she finally called yesterday to tell be not to worry about it because the baby will probably be going to her dad this week. On my 40th birthday, actually.

The social worker apologized profusely for not telling us earlier, but apparently she doesn’t understand how the process works. It’s so frustrating.

Six kids in less than two years, and nothing to show for it. It feels hopeless.

Update

We almost had two babies again, but D and I had to say no. It was really hard, but I believe it was for the best. As it turns out, the forever baby that we missed by a few minutes went to another family I know. A week later, they messaged me asking if I was interested in taking him because they were having a hard time with the kids they had. I was so excited! Then they messaged again two days later saying that they had jumped the gun and weren’t sure they could part with him and needed more time. That really, really sucked, but I didn’t want to pressure them. I wanted them to feel like they were making the right decision for their family without any outside pressure at all. So I waited, and eventually they messaged again saying they really didn’t think they could keep him. I went to meet him and hear his whole story, and now I understand why. The case isn’t nearly as cut-and-dry as I had been led to believe. The foster mom even told me that if it was going straight to adoption, they would be keeping him. D and I talked about how we really just want to adopt, and we can’t handle any more of the long, drawn out waits and the uncertainty and the messiness of foster care when our primary goal is to adopt. We’ve been through so much heartbreak, and there are already too many people fighting over this baby, and we already have a little baby who I love more than anything and who very well might go home, maybe even on my 40th birthday.

So we said no to baby #2, and I immediately felt like it was the right decision. I can spend more time with B, and enjoy the time I spend with her. I can put all of my energy into our private adoption and my health and my job. It’s interesting, because I’ve been trying really hard to make more connections in the foster care community in order to build my “village”, and there are so, so, so many people who have secondary infertility who are trying to adopt through foster care. And a lot of them are getting frustrated and giving up. I’m realizing it’s not THAT different than domestic infant adoption, where the newborns and infants are fought over by so many families who want them, except in each case there’s usually bio family also fighting for them. I’m tired of that fight. If I had known this back when my mom died and I inherited enough money to adopt, I probably would have just put that money toward surrogacy and avoided this whole mess.

As far as my health – I had to go to the doctor to get a signed letter saying that I’m healthy to adopt. Obviously that’s not an issue, since I’m as healthy as a horse (where in the world did that saying come from?), but while I was there I mentioned this hip pain I’ve been having for the last few months that makes it really hard to sit cross-legged (or criss-cross applesauce, as the kids say these days, which is much less offensive than what we said when I was a kid). I guess that means that I’m as healthy as a lame horse. Anyway, I LOVE sitting cross-legged. I don’t care if it’s not appropriate, it is by far the most comfortable way for me to sit, and not being able to do that because of hip pain is really frustrating. So my doctor is sending me to physical therapy and I’m SO excited!

D has been gone the last five days, and I have been super annoyed with him because he didn’t do ANYTHING to try to make it smoother for me while he was gone, and it has honestly been really hard to take care of a 4-week-old foster kid and work full time while the air outside is so disgusting I feel like I shouldn’t go out. I’m grateful that he’ll be home tonight, but now I feel like I need a vacation.

And our private adoption is coming along at a snail’s pace. It’s driving me a bit nuts. Every time I think I’ve just about finished all the paperwork, I find out there’s one more thing. This time, it’s a signed, dated, and NOTARIZED statement by D about his DUI. I’m going to have to closely supervise him in order to make sure he gets it done, which neither of us will enjoy, but if I don’t, nothing will get done. Argh. I’m so ready to be done and waiting for a match. I’m really concerned that there will never be a match, but I’ll be super happy to just be done with paperwork.

And last but not least, I was sure that my beloved cat’s time was near. I’ve had him for 16 years, when he was about 1-2 years old. I love this cat. I know I’ve written about him before, but he’s seriously the best cat on the planet. He’s sweet, cuddly, never bites or scratches, doesn’t run away from kids, and really just wants to sit by me and purr. He’s been getting so stiff and losing so much weight, and I’ve been so worried and I took him to the vet, and she looked worried, and said his arthritis was really bad, and then she suggested a painkiller and some joint support medication, and within 3 days he was back to his old self, with quite the spring in his step. He’s still old and skinny and not cured of arthritis but he’s obviously feeling SO MUCH BETTER, and it makes me happy.

More disappointment, but a few good things happening

The last few days have been such a roller coaster. For starters, we were placed with a newborn 2.5 weeks ago. We didn’t know the details (and still don’t), but from what they did tell us, it sounded like the case might eventually go to adoption. I was hopeful. D was not, and was not particularly happy with me for saying yes. Fast forward to yesterday. We still know nothing, we’re exhausted from being up half the night with a baby, and I had been instructed to take said baby in for a DNA test because the father was fighting for her. On my way to the parking garage, I decided to take the elevator instead of the outdoor stairs because it is hot as heck and I needed a break after being up all night. Well, while I was in the elevator the county called me about a newborn who was almost certainly going to adoption. By the time I listened to the message and called back, the social worker was already on the phone with another family who took the baby, even though they already have an 8-month-old whose case is probably going to adoption (and they have a child of their own too). Actually, what happened was that when I called, it went to voicemail and I left a message saying that if the baby’s case was going to adoption (because she didn’t say in her original message), we’d take him because we really want to adopt and we can’t handle taking another baby who won’t stay as we’ve said goodbye too many times already. She called back about five minutes later to say that another family had said maybe, and they needed to confer before saying yes. Which bothered me, because the few times I had called and said that we were interested but that I needed to confirm with D first, I had been told that if anyone else had called, they would not hold the baby(s) for me. But they held this baby for the other family. It was devastating.

I missed out on a forever baby by two minutes. I’m angry at myself, angry at the system, and angry at the other family (who doesn’t really know that by taking that baby, they have deprived us of yet ANOTHER chance to finally have the family we’ve been dreaming of for so long). I’m tired of being angry. The worst part is, D looks at this as just another bit of evidence that the universe doesn’t want us to be parents and that we should give up. It’s exhausting trying to talk him off the ledge. It’s exhausting getting my hopes up, having them crushed, and then trying to rebuild that hope that a forever baby will come through for us. And I’m finding it harder to bond with this baby, knowing there’s a good chance she’ll leave (I still love her to death, but I’m so, so scared of what might happen).

In other news, we finally finished our domestic infant adoption homestudy, and it’s been sent to the agency for approval. I’m assuming at some point we will have to have it notarized and/or provide updated paperwork proving our income, mortgage, pet licensing and vaccinations, retirement plans, etc. Since D leaves in one week for the children’s camp where he volunteers each year, I’m hoping they get back to me ASAP, because once he leaves, I’m not sure when we’ll have time and I just want to be done with it and have our profile out in the world, ready to be chosen. I’m turning 40 in less than three weeks, and we’ve been trying to have a family since I was 35, and that’s a long time to continually face setbacks and have our hopes crushed.

But to end on an upbeat note (or two, actually)… I LOVE my new job. I’m so, so happy that I finally found a great job in my field, and I work with awesome people, and as much as I hate the bureaucracy involved, I do love what I do. And on top of that, we are just about done with Phase 1 of our backyard overhaul. I will post pictures soon, but it feels like a completely different space, and it is SO AWESOME! I can’t wait for the firepit/coffee table to arrive. Now if only the temperature would drop below 100 degrees so I actually feel like going out and enjoying it…

Another sad goodbye, more thoughts on foster care, some progress with private agency adoption

R went home a week ago. It was bittersweet. He was so, so attached to D (which is something D and I are going to have to talk about before we get another kid – more on that below). When we dropped him off, he didn’t want to go with his mom, he didn’t want to go with me, he only wanted to stay in D’s arms. It’s a one-month trial, but I’d be willing to bet at the next court date, reunification will be made permanent. And I’m happy for them both. His mom is not a bad person, she’s actually very sweet and had some very bad luck in life and is now getting the support she needs. And knowing ahead of time that reunification would be happening means we were all prepared for it.

We’ve had a LOT of calls in the last week for sibling sets. There were two that we almost took, but they turned out to not be good situations for us. In both cases, it was extremely likely the kids would go to relatives soon and we’d be stuck picking up the pieces. I have some thoughts on the new(ish) preference for relatives to be caregivers. In cases where the kids know the relatives well, I think it can be good. In cases where the kids don’t know them, I don’t always think it’s the best. For one thing, the parents are likely to pressure the relatives to break the rules and let them have access to the kids, which can make things very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous for all parties. Also, the kids often go into foster care first until a relative is vetted and commits to doing all the training, which then results in additional moves for the kids, which I don’t think is the best option. If the kids can be placed with the relatives on an emergency basis while the relatives get approved for kinship care, I think that can work out great, assuming the relatives are able to maintain appropriate boundaries with the parents, but otherwise I think it’s best for the foster family to just help create a relative relationship with the kids in the same way it would happen normally. That’s something that D and I have ALWAYS supported – we loved it when our kids’ relatives wanted to be actively involved in their lives.

After the call we got yesterday, though… I’m about ready to give up. It’s hard to be foster parents when we both work full time, but I’m willing to try to go with it. I still miss N horribly and wish that case had turned out differently, considering we were told when he came to us that it was likely to be permanent. It sucked that he was moved to a relative without any warning whatsoever. It sucked that I don’t believe the relative was fully vetted, although I think he’s going to be ok. It sucked that we weren’t able to give two weeks’ notice to daycare, although luckily our daycare provider didn’t make us pay for the extra two weeks. It sucks in general that we aren’t reimbursed enough to cover our expenses. I don’t want to make money off of foster care, but I don’t think we should be paying out of pocket, especially when we’re also using a lot of our vacation time to take these kids to visits (in D’s case, almost all of his vacation time) and that we’re risking our jobs when we’re always taking time off. But yesterday we got a call about two little boys who were just coming into care. I specifically asked if it was a long term situation, and was told there was no information. I said yes, even though I was a little worried how soon it was after R going home. I left work early to pick up the toddler bed I had loaned to my sister and to clean up the house a bit. A few hours later, I got a phone call from the social worker, who asked what I knew, and I said I was told there was no information. She told me the kids had been in an emergency home and needed to move to another home while relatives were vetted, and that they would be moved to a relative as soon as they were cleared. I was pretty angry. We’ve been pretty specific about not wanting short term placements, and as much as we REALLY want to take sibling sets, it’s a lot harder to coordinate than just one kid. If the kids had already been in care for several days, why weren’t we at least told the basic information? So I told the social worker that we couldn’t take a short-term placement. If we did that and D got attached again and the kids went home, I’m pretty sure that would be the end of foster care for D.

So the reason R was so attached to D is because when we had our first foster kid, I would cook dinner as usual. Then I would take her upstairs for bathtime, playtime, and bedtime (because at first she would only let me put her to bed). I would finally come downstairs hours later to find that D had done NOTHING the entire time I was upstairs, other than watch videos on his tablet and/or play video games. The kitchen was a mess, nothing had been prepped for the next day, and I was exhausted. I finally insisted that he had to start doing bathtime at the very least, so I could clean the kitchen (which I don’t really think was fair, but it was the only way the kitchen would ever get cleaned up, and I was tired of trying to cook in a messy kitchen day after day). That pattern has continued to this day, with D doing bathtime and evening playtime while I am by myself downstairs cleaning and doing chores. Gradually, all of the kids got attached to D more than to me, and in some ways I didn’t mind because it meant it wasn’t so hard to say goodbye.

I don’t think this is a pattern that should continue though. D really should be pulling his weight more, and I should be bonding with kids more. For one thing, it’s been harder on D than on me to see the kids go (except for N, who was really attached to me). I’m not sure how to bring it up though, since D gets really resentful if I imply he’s shirking chores. He DOES do a lot around the house, but I usually just do all the difficult/unpleasant tasks myself and let him do all the easy ones, just to avoid a fight. He will generally only do a chore if it’s something he can do while watching videos on his tablet or phone, and it’s honestly starting to drive me a little nuts.

All in all, I think we need a break from fostering for a while.

Speaking of taking a break from fostering, I have two things on my schedule that are keeping me busy:

1. I’m taking summer school! Both classes are online and both are great for my job (and can possibly be used for a certificate in my field if I decide to go for it).

2. We’re moving along with prepping for private adoption. We have a social worker to do our homestudy update (and that has been the biggest headache of the year, between our original homestudy missing a page, never to be found, and our adoption agency dragging their feet interminably with helping us to update our homestudy) and we actually have all the forms we need to update our criminal clearance which, surprise!, needs to be updated. But the end is in sight! I’m really hoping we’ll be able to go live with our profile in August, when I will be turning…. old.

We’re moving along with prepping for private adoption. We have a social worker to do our homestudy update (and that has been the biggest headache of the year, between our original homestudy missing a page, never to be found, and our adoption agency dragging their feet interminably with helping us to update our homestudy) and we actually have all the forms we need to update our criminal clearance which, surprise!, needs to be updated. But the end is in sight! I’m really hoping we’ll be able to go live with our profile in August, when I will be turning…. old.

Another mother’s day to endure

I’m not looking forward to mother’s day. I’m not a mother, I don’t have a mother, I don’t really see the point. But I do kinda feel like I owe it to my MIL, since she (along with my sister) have been the only people who have been supportive of us as foster parents, so I think I’m going to suck it up and go. The rest of D’s family didn’t come to R’s birthday last weekend. They didn’t even bother to RSVP. I’m really not excited about seeing any of them, especially on a day where we celebrate motherhood.

We’re trying to move forward with private adoption, but I’m running out of patience with our adoption agency. I email them about something. 5-6 days later, I get a response for half of my question. So I email them back. Wait 4 days, get frustrated, email again to see if they got my email, get a slightly more helpful response. Now I’m waiting for them to start the next step. My guess is they won’t start it until I email AGAIN. I already have a job! I don’t need a second one managing them.

Speaking of R, he’s going home in about a month, we think. Nothing is ever certain in foster care, but that’s the most likely scenario. I recently met a woman who got a baby from the hospital whose mom didn’t want him. She told the hospital staff to call CPS to find him a home, and that lucky woman got the call. We later got a call for an 11-month-old boy, but then they called back 90 minutes later to say a family member had stepped up. A call went out this week for an 8-month-old boy, but by the time I called back 20 minutes later, someone had already taken placement.

I’m losing hope. And I’m really not looking forward to mother’s day.