Max

My sweet kitty passed away at home last night. I’m kicking myself because I wasn’t with him, I was putting the baby to bed and then I went to check on him and he was gone. He’s been with me for 17 years, most of my adult life, and he was my first baby. He was the best cat I’ve ever met. He never scratched furniture, he was so gentle with people and other animals. He never scratched or bit. He wasn’t really interested in playing, all he wanted to do was cuddle, and I was his person. He was there for me through everything bad that ever happened, purring in my ear when I was sick or sad. He was always happy to see me when I came home. I have other cats, but they aren’t Max. He was so incredibly special. I know he was just a cat, but he made me feel so loved.

And now he’s gone.

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TPR & PAP

Yesterday was surreal. Really surreal.

First, I found out that our baby’s parents’ rights were terminated the previous day and we were named Prospective Adoptive Parents. It still doesn’t seem real. I wish I could impress upon the whole world how amazing our baby is, and how ecstatic I am, although the number of friends and family who told us that she is lucky to have us (including the parents of our former foster kids!) is mind-boggling. I mean, yes, we ARE awesome, but we’re the lucky ones!!!

And then I had to turn down two newborn placements in a row. It felt very weird to be doing that. Even though both were likely going to adoption, both would have had visits for 6 months or more, and we just can’t do that. D is so tired of visits and social workers and lawyers and adoption workers and people constantly in and out of our house. I have a job with billable hours. We have a 12-month-old. It’s just too much. And they both come from such difficult situations. If you had told me even a year ago that I would say no twice in one day to newborns who were pretty much guaranteed to go to adoption, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m still not sure we made the right choice, because we may never get another chance to give our baby a sibling. But what’s done is done.

Will I ever stop being jealous of people who have it easy?

I’m having a hard time. A good friend of mind got married last summer. He’s a few years younger than me, and his wife is a year or two younger than him. They waited a few months, then decided to start trying for a baby. Today he announced that they are 10 weeks pregnant, via an ultrasound photo to our group chat.

First, I am happy for them. Really happy for them. Why would I want anyone else to go through what I’ve been through? But I have to admit it makes me feel more isolated and alone. I don’t know anyone who can understand what it’s like to try to have children unsuccessfully for 5 years, who’ve tried IUI with injectables, IVF (the beginning of it, anyway), myomectomies, hysteropscopies, HSGs, saline sonograms, foster care, and private adoption.

This is a small group chat that gets together regularly as well. Only one of the others has a kid, and his kid is very special needs. Another is extremely unlikely to ever have kids (and happy to have it that way). Another is unmarried and I don’t even know if he wants kids. I’m definitely not the odd one out when it comes to families. And we’ve had this group since before I even knew my husband. They’ve been there while we’ve dealt with all of this, so they know what I’ve been through, and they’ve been very supportive and understanding.

And I love my current (hopefully forever) baby, and I will be so so so happy if we get to adopt her, and any other baby we get to adopt. I’ve never felt the need to pass on my DNA, but I do feel sad that I won’t get to experience all the things that “normal” parents get to – have a positive pregnancy test, have ultrasound pictures to share, feel the baby kicking, have a baby shower, experience childbirth and breastfeeding. I want to be able to plan for a baby, take family leave to bond instead of desperately find daycare and go right back to work because I’ve already taken too much time off for the last foster kid, I want to experience (and ENJOY) those first few months with a newborn, and know that the baby is going to stay instead of being constantly worried about having my heart broken. I want to be able to plan trips for more than a few days, maybe even leave the country for vacation!

I guess I just mourn normalcy and living without the fear of heartbreak.

And speaking of being happy, my good foster mom friend just brought home a 3-week-old boy. I’m super happy for her! And also a bit jealous. In addition to our current baby, I would really like a boy, preferably less then two years younger. And then I feel a bit greedy for wanting that when I’ve already got the best baby in the world.

Another update

Oh jeez. So much has happened. And I forgot to mention in my last post that D is taking an online college course (which was supposed to be the first of three that he needed to accomplish his next career goal, but he has decided to stop after this one). He really sucks at setting time aside to study, and tends to do it all at the last minute instead of spending 20-30 minutes a night. This means when the weekend comes, he declares that we can’t do anything fun since he has homework. I’m getting annoyed. He also seems to think that him taking a class means he doesn’t have to do as much around the house. When I took a class last semester, I did my homework every night after dinner/putting the baby to bed, while he played video games or watched TV. Now that he has homework, we both watch TV in the evenings. It never even occurs to him to do his homework. ARGH.

Anyway. His grandfather passed two weeks ago. I feel terrible for his family, especially his mother and grandmother. His father’s surgery was too far away for his mother to be able to go back and forth, so she obviously went with her husband. The surgery took all day and went REALLY well, and within 5 minutes of D’s father being successfully moved to recovery, his grandfather passed away. There were two days of services, including visitation, a Catholic vigil, a mass, and burial at the cemetery complete with a bagpiper. It was very beautiful, and very sad. I actually had no idea D’s grandparents were so religious, they definitely weren’t pushy about religion AT ALL.

As for our current foster baby… We don’t have to do visits anymore! I despise visits. Even when I have a good relationship with the bio family, it’s hard on the kids, and it’s hard on our schedules. With our current baby, the parents were pretty flaky, so it was especially hard on our schedules. I’m so, so grateful that we get to be more like a normal family now. And the baby seems so much happier too.

We met with the social worker and I learned a lot more. It seems really unlikely the baby will go to her grandmother. Termination of parental rights is 5 weeks away. From what I understand, it will happen that day, and then parents and the grandmother will no longer legally be related to her. The parents have 60 days to appeal, and they probably will, but from what I’ve learned, appeals of TPR don’t go to trial, and they can only be based on the process (ie, something wasn’t done correctly). Appeals almost never succeed. At that point, a date will be set for adoption. The social worker told us to expect it to be about 6 months after the TPR hearing, so end of November I guess. It’s crazy to think that after all we’ve been through, we’re so, so close to finally being able to adopt.

And we just set up our first meeting with the adoption worker! I’m very excited to get started on this process.

As far as the private adoption… We changed some photos in our book and ended up without any photos showing foster kids, and I think that’s fine. It took a few weeks to get the changes made and the books shipped. All I know is the latest batch was available for expectant mothers/parents to look at as of last week. We’re 8 months into the process, and I’m not sure how much further I want to go. I love our current baby, and it’s so easy just having one, but I feel like a sibling would be great, and D wants a boy (don’t get me started, but I think it’s mostly because he misses our boys from last year).

I’m also in the middle of another period, and I’m bleeding relatively heavily (nothing like before I had Ashermans though). The cramps are pretty bad, which sucks. I’m still trying to decide if I want to try to get my uterus fixed, and if so, who I should go to. It’s a tough decision.

Bad news, tentative good news, more bad news

Dang, I’ve really been sucking at posting.

OK. Where to start? I did end up having a consult with Dr. March. He sounded very positive about my chances to clear out the scarring and have a usable uterine lining, but he asked me to get an ultrasound to check my lining around ovulation. Since my period has been pretty regular even with all of my issues, I scheduled an ultrasound and then… my period never really started. I had some spotting for a day, and no cramping, and that was it. Of course, I took a pregnancy test, and of course it was negative. I went to my ultrasound as scheduled, although it was at the regular radiology clinic and not a women’s clinic or infertility clinic. Apparently, you’re supposed to be more modest at a normal radiology clinic. I just got undressed and hopped up on the table and couldn’t figure out what to do with all the extra fabric they gave me. Apparently you’re supposed to cover yourself up really well. Oopsies.

Anyway, the doctor called me with the results a few days later – she didn’t even bother to tell me what the lining was, she just told me my fibroids are back and it sounds like I’m starting menopause. I’m not entirely convinced about that, but my identical twin sister went and got her AMH and FSH levels checked in case my uterus was repairable and we needed an egg donor (since she has a naturally-conceived 3-year-old), and they were bad. Not REALLY bad – her FSH was still lower than mine had ever been, but it was still high, and her AMH was pretty low. So that’s probably a no-go.

I’m pretty upset that this whole “trying to start a family” thing that ended up with me having a uterus that is incapable of carrying a baby but more than capable of causing excruciating pain on a monthly basis cost me so much money and time, and now I’m right back where I started. Except in addition to fibroids and DOR, I now have Asherman’s and possibly endometriosis too.

So I decided to wait and see if my period would ever come, and last night, it started again. It has been over two months since my last period, but this one seems perfectly normal for my Asherman’s-era uterus – a small to moderate amount of blood and lots of cramping. I’m really not sure what to do now. I don’t want any more surgeries unless they’re going to make things better.

On the private adoption front – we ran out of profile books AGAIN. I decided we should update a few pictures, since we have some newer pictures of us, and I’m having a really hard time deciding if we should include photos with former foster kids (with their parents’ permission, of course). On the one hand, it would be nice to show what the reality of raising these kids but still being childless looks like, and to show how supportive we are of continuing relationships with bio families. On the other hand, I don’t know if it would look like we’re “using” the kids for our own gain, which I obviously want to avoid. For now, we’ve decided not to use pictures of former foster kids, except one or two where you can see one of us is using a baby backpack but you can’t actually see the baby.

On the fostering front, there’s a good chance we will be able to adopt our current baby! I’m terrified to write that, because until it’s final, anything can happen. The judge ruled to stop reunification services back in January. The ruling was contested and went to trial in February, and the parents lost, although visits would continue until the hearing to terminate parental rights. I was not in court, but apparently the judge was pretty angry with the parents and told them if they missed one more visit, that was it, no more visits. And two weeks ago, they missed another visit, so for now, we don’t have to do visits anymore, which is my absolute least favorite part of foster care. One of the grandmothers was apparently trying to get the baby, although from what I’ve heard it’s possible she may not be eligible, and even if she is, she would still have to do all of the same training and background checks and home inspections and home studies that we did, which I don’t believe she has even started, and she would have to convince the judge that she would be the best option since it’s so late in the game, and the social worker didn’t think that was likely.

So now the only thing we can really do is wait and hope. The next hearing is in two months, and it’s likely to be contested and go to trial, and I have no idea how long that will take. I love this baby more than anything in the whole world, and she has become so attached to me that I can’t get anything done at home because she wants my full and undivided attention at all times, preferably while I’m holding her. I wouldn’t mind, except that I do in fact have to still keep the house running and the people and animals fed, and deal with all of the crises that keep popping up.

Speaking of which, poor D’s family is getting hit with all kinds of difficulties right now. His grandfather’s health has been slowly declining for the last two years or so, and he’s really taken a turn for the worse. He has been in the hospital for almost a week and it’s not looking good at all, so D has been driving there (over an hour away with no traffic) about every other day. His dad is having major brain surgery next week, which he desperately needs and has been waiting months to get, and his poor mom is now caught between all of this. I’m doing my best to hold down the fort so D can be wherever he needs to be to support his family, but my job is really demanding right now, the baby isn’t sleeping nearly as well as she should be, and my poor kitty is in complete kidney failure and needs fluids three times a week.

I’m feeling like I need a vacation.

What now?

Our foster baby’s parents had court this week, and I’m no longer feeling good about our chances to adopt.

I’m having a hard time getting any answers from the social workers (which is SO FRUSTRATING), but it seems like the mom definitely has a newfound purpose to get her baby back. She also all of a sudden started buying tons of stuff and sending it home with the baby after visits (when she shows up, which has been pretty spotty, but I’m guessing that’s about to change as well). This week, she bought a new carseat and sent it home. I am really beginning to hate foster care, and the people who always suggest it as an avenue to build a family.

On the domestic infant adoption front, we just ran out of profile books again, exactly 6 weeks after they were available to expectant mothers. I would like to think we’re REALLY popular, but I think that due to our experiences with foster care and our suddenly comfortable financial situation, we’re just available as a choice to many, many more expectant mothers than most other couples. Which is good for our overall chances I guess. I’m really curious about how quickly other couples go through books. I feel like this is going to get very expensive very quickly and we may end up empty-handed. I’m just not feeling positive about our chances to ever have a family.

I have also decided that if I can make it work, I want to try to get my Asherman’s fixed. Not because I want to get pregnant (but I wouldn’t be upset if it happened), but because I’m tired of feeling so horrible 3 days out of every cycle. It really sucks. I would happily trade more bleeding for less pain. The only issue is that the closest specialist is a 6-to-8-hour drive or 1.5-hour flight (plus the whole airport rigmarole plus car rental etc) away. So if I did that, it would require very careful planning, especially if we still have a foster baby at the time. I’m not sure what to do.

Another update :(

Just want to write a quick update. My friend who had her slam-dunk adoption baby went to court a month ago to cease services and change the goal to adoption. It was contested, and a new hearing was set for yesterday. The judge declined to change the goal and offered additional services and visits to the dad. I was shocked, and so was the social worker apparently. Since our hearing is next week, I texted my social worker to find out what’s been happening, since she told me she’d let me know right away if anything changed. Well, apparently two weeks ago, our baby’s mom decided to try to get her back. She hasn’t started services yet, but she’s in intake. I’m guessing she got the notification that they are trying to change the goal to adoption, and she panicked. Our social worker said she is still going to recommend adoption, but… our county’s judge really likes to give parents as many chances as they want. So now I’m incredibly nervous. On top of that, the paternal grandmother is now trying to get custody, although I’ve been told it’s unlikely.

My heart feels so heavy. For one thing, I don’t want to take a baby away from a mom who is willing and able to parent. I don’t know if this mom is able, and I’ve definitely got concerns about her willingness considering how long it’s taken her to make any effort whatsoever. But still… our poor baby. She will be 8 months old next week, and her parents have shown no interest in her until two weeks ago. D is really upset with the whole system. He still believes that we’ll be chosen for domestic infant adoption based on our profile alone. Considering my age and our lack of religion, I’m thinking our chances are really low. D also doesn’t want me to create an adoption website for us (and I’m not even sure it’s legal in our state). He’s tired of the waiting, tired of not knowing, tired of keeping our lives on hold. I don’t blame him. I’m tired of it too.

So what do we do now? I don’t really know.