So, last week, I got a voicemail from Patrick's case worker. She was wondering about setting up a December visit. Then, she said that Patrick told her that after this visit, he would decide if he wanted to be adopted.
Immediately, a few questions come to mind. The first, of course, was "Wait, what???" We had considered the possibility, but it hadn't gone beyond some obsessive talking and agreeing to
wait and see. When Patrick hinted at the possibility, we tried to be neutral, but open. The last thing that we wanted to do was give him false hope or commit out of guilt.
And, in all honesty, as he casually rode off with his case worker, I was pretty sure that we had dodged a bullet. I don't mean that so harshly, but, yes, I was happy to get back to our little family that works just as it is. We kind of figured we'd be like an aunt and an uncle to him. We'd be somewhere for him to come on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We'd be his home base.
But, as I listened to the voicemail, I realized that he had been thinking about it. When he left, Brian said (to me) that it would be good for him to go home and see how he felt and we would be able to do the same. My insecurities led me to assume that he was bad-mouthing me to his foster family, that he was glad to be home, and, that was telling everyone that his siblings drove him crazy. But, turns out, the visit actually meant something to him; although those things may still have happened. She went on to say that she wasn't sure if we were still thinking in those terms. And, I was glad that it was a voicemail because I don't know what I would've said. I also wondered who told him that it was officially on the table as an option. I assume it was the foster mother who was going to try to open his mind to the possibility. Apparently, she did.
Knowing that he might want it, though, changed how I was feeling. That suggested that he might be willing to make some effort to make it work. And, of course, it got my mind racing.
It got me thinking. Could it ever work out? On the surface, I can list a million and one reasons why it wouldn't be a good idea. He's a bitter 12 year old. (For now, anyway. In a couple of weeks, he'll be a bitter 13 year old.) He has trouble with relationships, being honest, and picking up his socks. He talks back, argues, and wants control over everything. He eats too much, yells too much, and talks about wrestlng too much. He has walls that I wonder if I could ever climb. He doesn't feel much of a connection to his siblings and it's unclear what he thinks of us.
But, he's also a kid. A kid without a family. A kid who will turn 18 and basically have no where to go. Odds are not in his favor. If it's not us, then who is going to come looking for a cranky, black (let's be honest here, it doesn't help his chances) teenage boy?
Then I wonder what I would be like. I mean, I had my token bad boyfriend (everyone gets one)
and it shattered my confidence for years. What would I be like if I was basically rejected by everyone who was supposed to love me? What if everyone who supports me in life is paid to care? (Disclaimer: They definitely do care, though.) What if I grew up without my siblings? Would it be any surprise that I don't know how to relate to them now?
I'm so lucky that I don't have to know. I have parents who love me. I have sisters who I have known all my life and I love them dearly. And, I know that they love me. When I married Brian, I knew how to behave in a relationship (mostly) because I had good examples of love in my life.
Anyway, the one thing that is extremely clear is that he deserves better than he's gotten. It's also clear to me that he's going to have to work for it a little (or maybe a lot), if he wants better than he's gotten.
What would I need from him?
Fade to my imaginary conversation scene with Patrick....
-I need you to understand that we're doing the best we can.
-I need you to know that we're not perfect and we're well aware of that.
-I need you to know that we're big on respect. You have to respect us. We have to respect you. You have to respect your siblings. It might take awhile for you to feel like they are part of you, but they are, and deserve to be treated that way.
-I need you to understand that I'm going to expect from you what I expect from them. Good grammar. Politeness. Appropriate words. Etc.
-I need you to admit that Batman is cool because you know that he is. ;) It's ok to like superheroes and anything else that we like. No one will make fun of you for enjoying things. At the very least, don't ruin our fun.
-I need you to be honest (or at least try to be). I need you to understand that stealing is wrong. Cursing at your teachers is wrong. (He apparently did that, too) And, getting in fights is wrong.
-I need you to understand that if you join this family, you're in. All the way. The good, the bad, the mundane. There will be no sitting/sulking at different tables in restaurants. You can sulk at the table with us, but you'll be sitting with us. You'll be part of family activities, whether it be dinner out, movies, or seemingly endless errands. And, you'll wash your hands, brush your teeth, or whatever else I ask the four of you to do.
-I would say something about putting your clothes away and cleaning up after yourself. But, I haven't figured out how to get these three to do that yet, so not much point there ;)
-I need you to understnd that it would be an adjustment. We would love you and accept you. But, it would take us some time to figure out the best way to do that. And, we would need you to be a little patient.
-And, not most importantly, but it will feel like it to us, once a year, I need you to put on a wacky costume, wander around DragonCon, and pose for pictures. This might seem like a weird thing to insist on, but it's important to us. Because it's part of being a Parker.
Plus, I'm pretty sure if you left your attitude at home, you would love it, too.
And, in return?
-We would love you.
-We would listen to you.
-We would admit when we screw up. Because we will screw up.
-We would do our best.
-We would even let you have a say in what costume you wear to DragonCon! haha.
-We would understand that you might not be ready to call us Mom and Dad. There would be no pressure. Although, I will be hoping for soon. :)
-And, most importantly, although, you might have trouble believing it, we would not give you back. We would not reject you. We would love you. You would be free to drive us as bonkers as the other three do. But, it would be awesome, if you tried not to. ;)
I don't know what the right thing to do is. I take that back. I do know what the right thing to do is. But, I don't know what the right thing to do for us is. I think I'm just going to see how we feel in December, too. Because it is definitely not like getting a new dog which incidently, I want. ;) It's like getting a bouncing teenage boy with issues on ton of issues. And, since we mean it when we say it's forever, we would need to make sure that we were really, really ready for it. Or at least as ready as is possible.
I don't know. But, I do know that I'm looking forward to seeing him, again. Now his cover is completely blown. We know that he cares enough to seriously ponder being one of us. Oh, Patrick, you thought I was bad before, insisting on hugs and obnoxious things like that. You are in for it now. ;)