Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fostering Q&A

I have seriously been neglecting my writing! With school starting, DHS classes every Saturday, and working my second job on Sundays, my free time is running into the negative. I know that everyone wants updates and I have received several of the same questions from various people, so I decided that this particular blog will be dedicated to answering such queries.

Q: How soon will you get a child?

A: We have another month of classes and our home study is set to be finalized any day. DHS could call anytime after that, so it could be very soon! In emergency situations, we may even get a call before we’re done!!

Q: What age/sex will you get?

A: Most people don’t realize this, but you tell DHS everything you are willing to accept as part of the process. Race, gender, age, behavioral issues, diseases, mental disorders, etc. We are asking for a baby. We prefer a girl, but if a boy is available first, we would definitely consider it. We are open to any race and have even said that we would consider twins!

Q: How long will it take for you to be able to adopt the baby?

A: This is a complicated question. When they call, they will let us know the baby’s history and let us know if it is likely to be adoptable. They usually have some idea of what will happen based on previous encounters with the parents. We have the option to turn down any call. Unless they indicate that the child is likely to be adoptable or the rights have already been relinquished, at this point in our lives we would probably say no. I could definitely see us welcoming older children into our home later in life, but right now we are preparing for a baby.

Q: At what point did you decide enough was enough and turn to fostering/adoption to complete your family?

A: I think anyone experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages faces this decision at some point and it’s a very personal thing. For myself, I felt strongly led towards making our tragedy into something powerful and uplifting. What better way to do that than to change the course of a child’s life forever? Also, I could not, in good conscience, continue spending money in the name of having a biological child. For some, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to have a miracle baby is their testimony of love and enduring faith. It can give others in the same situation hope. That’s just not where my heart is. Not when unwanted babies are dropped off every day at hospitals needing a home.

Q: So are you totally done trying for “your own” baby?

A: Well, we’ve had the “one last test” and it revealed NOTHING. Big surprise. Dr. Impressive Credentials REALLY tortured me with that test, but all that pain yielded another “I couldn’t see anything that would cause your miscarriages.” He sent us on our way advising us to try, try again. I guess my answer is yes, I’m done. If it happens, it will be despite all efforts to prevent it. Those pink lines have given me nightmares for too long now, and I’m quite certain that I can do without seeing them while I’m awake! My desires are in a different place now.

Q: What will you do if you get a baby and then end up pregnant?!

A: Assuming that the baby in my belly decided to stay, well, the more the merrier! We would be ecstatic with our double blessing!

Q: Aren’t you scared about this whole process?

A: Anyone who is adopting in any fashion that says that they don’t have very real fears and concerns is either doing extensive meditation or lying. What do I do when the child wants to find his/her “real” parents? What happens when they struggle developmentally because their mom was on drugs or didn’t have good prenatal care? When do I tell them they’re adopted? How do I let them know that they are more loved than any child on earth when they feel abandoned by the one that was supposed to love them most? These are the questions that give me pause, that bring tears to my eyes, that put the gravity of what we’re doing into perspective.

Any time something this huge is on the horizon, questions abound. I may actually have more questions than answers at this point, but I firmly believe that when we hold our baby for the first time, those questions will answer themselves.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Checking My Baggage

Have you ever found yourself at the airport standing at the counter frantically trying to move clothes into your spouse’s suitcase to get it down to the acceptable weight while everyone behind you checks their watches? Or maybe you’re one of the smart ones who weighs your bag repeatedly at home, leaving behind things you’d rather not for the sake of saving money. The bottom line is that if you want to go somewhere, too much baggage weighs you down.

For all of you extra observant readers, you may have noticed that there have been long lengths of silence between my last few blogs. I know that I promised to stay busy this summer, and I have, but being occupied was not the reason for my procrastination. The reality is that I had some major “baggage” of my own to let go of before I could possibly move forward in this journey towards becoming a foster parent, namely anger, resentment, and a serious sense of entitlement.

A peek into my recent struggles: This whole DHS process is extremely disheartening to say the least. Being required to spend hours on paperwork and take parenting classes would probably deter all but the most dedicated applicants (which is probably the point). However, I can’t help but think if the parents of these babies had been required to do the same before they conceived a precious child, many children would not have to live through the horrors that they face every day. There is never a lack of sickening, inhuman stories in the news involving these innocent angels. (Case in point: I could dwell all day too on how unfair it is that women get to birth these amazing gifts from heaven when they don’t even want them in the first place!  We have considered domestic adoption briefly, the price of which is an insult to injury in itself. It is just so wrong that not only am I being robbed of the joy of carrying a baby, watching it grow while seeing my features reflected in its little face, but that I also have to either pay an arm and a leg to have a baby or subject myself to months (possibly years) of being controlled by the state and its flawed system. I’m sure by now you see the dire situation that I was in last month…my baggage was controlling my life.

I defeated this unrelenting dialogue in my head by rewatching a sermon our church did several months ago on the dangers of comparison. When I was lamenting about how crappy my situation was, I was really saying that I was not satisfied with the blessings that I have been given. We are all blessed in different ways and we don’t really deserve any of it. We are not guaranteed anything in this life, and yet I have been given so much. Who am I to say how God should bless each of us? Comparison also leads to jealousy, which is an extremely destructive force. I was actually feeling resentment and anger towards others for being able to have a baby! That is humiliating to even admit, but it is so easy to succumb to and it’s different for all of us. It is impossible to get into someone’s new car or tour their beautiful home and not get a taste of jealousy. And who goes home afterwards and is more thankful for their junked-out vehicle or worn out furniture?

The most unfair thing of all would be for us to bring a baby into our home while I am still holding on to something else. After a month of grappling with all that extra weight, I can honestly say that I have come a long way in letting it go. I don’t HAVE to foster a baby because it’s my last resort; I GET to follow a higher calling than most people BECAUSE of what I’ve gone through. I GET to make a difference in a child’s life and I GET to rewrite that child’s story while doing it. Instead of seeing fostering to adopt as option #2, it is now my priority.  It doesn’t mean that these thoughts will never cross my mind again, but now I know that gratitude goes a long way in dissipating the resentment and anger. After a month of turbulence, we are hoping for clearer skies!