Monday, December 17, 2012

The Big Brother's Coming For Christmas.

Wow, my head continues to spin.

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 -

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.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Being Thankful, eventually.

Because, apparently, I was only thankful for two weeks and no one can accuse me of not following through...  (Oh, wait, lots of people can accuse me of that.)  Anyway, I wanted to finish up my "thankful" November blogs.  It's November somewhere, right? ;)

I'm not going to try to go day-by-day because, well, that would be crazy.  So, I'm going to just semi-randomly list some stuff (13 days worth, to be exact) that I'm thankful for.  It might actually all be from today or from 1999, but I'm going to pretend that I was thankful for them in November.  (I’m sure that I would've been!)

Here it goes!

1. I'm thankful that I found the last chocolate pop-tart that had fallen out of the box.  (Yes, this is a theme with me.  I really do need to organize that pantry.)

2. I'm thankful that there are cows outside of my office.  Because cows are cool.  And, it's hard to be grumpy when there are cows nearby.  It's also hard to focus.  But, come on, cows!  :)

If you wondering if I stood in the rain to get this picture, the answer is yes!
I'm pretty sure that the cow is judging me for it.

3. I'm thankful that when I paid the cashier for my gas, then merrily drove away without actually pumping the gas; I was able to get it when I came back.  It’s possible that this has happened before.

4. I'm thankful that my job is awesome and that it challenges me mentally and fulfills me emotionally.

5. I'm thankful that William enjoyed his 10th birthday.  I'm bewildered at how he could possibly be that old already, though!

cupcakes at school!

6. On Thanksgiving (and every other day) I was thankful for my kids, my husband, my parents, my sisters, my nieces and nephews, my friends, etc, etc. 

With my parents

Daddy's so patient with us.. :)

7. I'm thankful for my kids.  I know that's repetitive, but I'm just really, really into them. :)

8. I'm thankful for our new dog, Rose, and the fact that she hasn't chewed up anything in the last 24 hours.    (Although, the day is young...)

9. I’m thankful that I found a pair of black slacks on the clearance rack for $2.00 and they fit perfectly.  I'm not so thankful that they fit perfectly, even though, they are a size too big.  We’re just going to assume that they were not labeled correctly. 

10. I’m thankful that my secret santa got me this adorable reindeer.

11. I’m thankful that I have a “pet” opossum that has been having dinner with the cats lately when I feed them outside. Yes, I know that I’m not supposed to be happy about this.

12. I'm thankful for my dear friend, Jennice, who has taken on the role of volunteer nanny as I figure out how to juggle my new working-mom schedule; in addition to her already-established roles of god-mother and honorary aunt.  The kids love her and she loves them.  You can never have too much of that. :)   

13.  I'm very thankful that people actually take the time to read my blog!  Thank you so much!

So, now that I'm done being thankful for things, I think I'll go right on being thankful for things.  Because, at the risk of being too sappy in a blog post that wasn't really meant to be sappy; there is just so much to be thankful for. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Four-Legged Adoption Is Forever, Too.

So, this weekend's excitement was adding a dog to our home again.  Ever since our Ben passed away, the house has been so very dog-less.  It's also been less hairy, less noisy, and less messy (kind of).  But, mostly it's been dog-less. 

At first, I couldn't stand the idea of a different dog in the house.  But, whenever I met a dog, I was aware of how much I missed having one of my own.  But, the clear sign came when I watched Lizzie and Antwan play fetch. 

Antwan would throw the stick and yell "Get it, doggie!"  Lizzie would then run and fetch it.  I'm fairly certain that she was going to pick it up by mouth, but luckily, I stopped her in time. :)

So, we started looking around and, at just the right time, there was a big adoption event at the fairground.  So, armed with Brian's permission to pick the dog while he was stuck at work; I headed to the event.  And, by the end of the weekend, we had a dog.  :)

Welcome to the family!
Her name was "Pretty."  But, since she didn't answer to it, anyway, she is now Rose.  She is pretty, but she's definitely a Rose, a pretty one. :)

Before making the decision, I asked the kids, repeatedly, if they were sure this was the dog for them because she'd be part of the family. 

Adopting a dog when adoption is such a big part of your life is, well, interesting.  When we sat down to fill out the adoption application, William sat next to me and said, happily, "I'm your lawyer for the adoption finalization!" 

So, Miss Rose has proceeded to drive me a litte bonkers since we brought her home.  After she growled at a dog in Petco, William asked if we were going to send her back.  I said "No."  It was at that moment I knew that we couldn't send her back, despite the fact that I was panicking a little.  But, after years of telling William that adoption is forever, I knew that Rose deserved the same privilege.

She's a sweet girl.  She loves all humans, big and small.  She's not too keen on cats and dogs (although I've come to the conclusion that she's confused and curious, not aggressive.).  She's quiet.  The first and only time that she has barked was at the iguana. 

It feels very similar to our experience with the boys.  Her personality emerges each day and she's finding new and unusual ways to drive me crazy. 

Tonight, Rose peed and pooped on the floor, chewed up the remote control, and climbed onto William's lap and promptly threw up. 

But, looking back, on the first couple of days with William.  He wet his pants and sat down on the computer chair instead of telling me.  He ripped open a collectible figure that I forgot to take out of the room and lost the pieces throughout the room.  He left the remote control alone, but he made it clear pretty quickly that he was going to keep us busy.  :)

So, life is about adjustment.  William (and therefore, we) watched the first 15 minutes of Monsters Inc, approximately, a million times because he would lose interest and then ask us to start it over.  And, Rose just ate my razor.  Not exactly the same.  It's apples and oranges.  Children and dogs.  But, the point remains the same.

Rose is now one of us.  And, we take this adoption thing seriously. :)

And now I'm going to go hide all my stuff from the dog...

William believes that all dogs should have a bandana.

She thinks she's a lap dog.

I think she likes it here. :)