So, we were busy reacting to the fact that Patrick told his case worker that he was considering whether he wanted to be adopted by us (despite the fact that it hadn't been officially presented to him as an option) and planning for a December visit...
(backstory - http://www.the5parkers.com/2012/10/the-6parkers.html)
Then, I talked to Patrick's case worker. She advised me of the dates of the visit in December which are basically the dates that the foster mother wants respite care. And she told me that Patrick's been having a little trouble. She also asked how we would feel about Patrick relocating to our area and residing in a foster home here. It seemed like the perfect solution. It would give us the opportunity to get to know him, spend time with him, and let whatever is supposed to be go ahead and happen naturally.
So, we agreed to the dates, not knowing that my new job and my sudden lack of babysitters would eventually totally screw that all up.
And, then I got the chance to talk to his guardian ad litem (GAL). I learned a couple of things. I learned that she's a very devoted GAL and that she didn't intend to sugarcoat anything. (This is something that I am very grateful for.) She said that she didn't think Patrick was ready to be adopted; at least, not before a lot of pre-adoptive counseling. I was shocked. I naturally assumed that everyone wanted us to do it. And, she was saying no. I briefly wanted to argue with her. My natural impulse was to explain how perfect we were for him, even if I wasn't sure myself. But, that didn't last long. As I listened to her talk, I realized that if she was against it, it wouldn't happen and that she knew way better than me, anyway. And, I learned that he had been through a little more of hell than I realized. I also realized that his former adoptive parents may have been a little more sadistic and a little less "not sure how to handle things" than I thought. And, here is my epitomizing example. They fed him separately. That's right. The family ate together and Patrick had to eat separately. Suddenly, his resistance to sitting with us at every meal suddenly made sense. And, it broke my heart.
Anyway, the kid's been through too much. I now understood him better. Adoption was off the table for now, but we had the chance of having him nearby.
But, sadly, I had to cancel the visit. When I agreed, I thought I'd have many more child care options. But, it turns out, that I didn't. With no idea what I was going to do with my three and the best option being an expensive winter camp; we realized that it just wasn't going to work out. I was really worried about disappointing him, but since the dates couldn't be adjusted, I didn't know what else to do.
And, then the GAL gave me the phone number of a former friend of the former adoptive parents. (Follow that?) In fact, she is no longer their friend because of how they treated him and she is now a GAL because she wanted to do something to help kids after seeing how they treated him. Wow.
So, I talked to her. Again, wow. By the time, I was done talking to her, I was ready to rush to South Florida and scoop him up. I'll resist the urge to go into all the upsetting details, so I'll just share a few of my "favorites." Sadly, there's much more.
He had to sit in the back of the van, even if the other rows were available. Because, apparently, they had gone back a couple of decades. At a birthday party that this woman's daughters attended, the family had steak and birthday cake at the dining room table while Patrick was required to eat a TV dinner in the kitchen. He slept on a mattress in a room with no curtains or toys. And, when he climbed in his friend's window (with his friend present) so he could open the garage because his friend was locked out of the house; they (adoptive parents) called the police and reported him for breaking into a house. (And then they told me that he had a history of breaking into houses.) It seems like the only good thing they did was have him committed and then refuse to pick him up when his program was done. While he was with them, they were reported by many neighbors and formally investigated. After some, slightly obsessive, web sleuthing, I've only confirmed that she's still a teacher, so I'm guessing nothing came of it.
Wow. Suddenly, Patrick made a lot of sense. His issues suddenly make sense. He suddenly seemed heroically well-adjusted based on what he's been through...sort of.
So, from that point on, my mind was racing; trying to figure out what I could do to make the Christmas visit happen. Clearly, the boy deserves it.
So, when his GAL emailed and told me that he was upset that it was cancelled, really wanted to spend Christmas with us, and told her that he officially wants us to adopt him; we knew that we wanted to make it work the visit work.
I don't have all the answers. I don't know what we are meant to be to him. I don't know if we are the ones that can show him that there are people who he can trust and that he is worthy of being loved. But, I do know that I managed to book a babysitter for the days that I have to work, have started getting the house ready, have panicked inwardly several times about the stress I'm about to add to our holiday, and have vowed to give all four of those kids the best family Christmas possible.
Because that's what every child should have.