Foster Care, Adoption and the Waiting

Last week while browsing through a few new-to-me blogs, I came across two posts in particular that have remained with me. Not only have they remained in my thoughts, but have also caused personal reflection and changes in my attitude.
The first post was a source of encouragement, a place where I realized just how much keeping something inside can wear you down.  The second was a post about sharing the things God is doing in your journey, to allow others in our faith family to share in the anticipation, joys and trials.  (I can’t find the link to the second post, but will keep looking.)
The journey to adopt can be a lonely one, and very personal.  Add in the foster care side of things and it isn’t any easier , even if you are surrounded by case workers.  If it wasn’t for the supports I have found on the internet, I would definitely be in a darker place.  
It isn’t that my friends don’t care, it is that I find it hard to share.  How do you explain that you got a call this morning and now are a mom of a few more kids?  How do you explain that you said “yes” to this phone call but not the last one?  Or that after being the parent to a teenager for several months a conversation with a supervisor at the foster care office (between your family, your foster kid and the agency workers) resulted in you now being an empty-nester … oh, and you can’t tell them why due to privacy issues?
With others online I can vent to them or share our joys, and they understand because they are going through the same thing or made it to the other side.  However, there is a level of anonymity you have to keep up to protect the privacy of the kids and for your own safety.  You can’t exactly say, “My name is Jane Doe, I live on Mulberry lane and have three kids named Peter, Paul, and Mary. Here are their issues and, oh by the way, can you believe what just happened?!”  In some sense, you are still hiding behind a mask.
Kid in Library
Becca at Milk & Honey Living is the mother of two biological children and on the journey to adopt a third.  Towards the beginning of her journey she thought it would be fun to share a: WAITING Questionnaire…for the Adoptive Mother!  Often expectant mothers will share events along the way.  This may be the first time they felt a kick, or found out the gender of the baby, pictures from their ultrasounds or pictures documenting how their own bodies are changing over time.  When you are an adoptive mom, so such things exist for you.  It isn’t nearly as exciting to say, “We submitted our fingerprints!!!”  or “They found us normal enough after the home study to actually continue on! Next stop, background checks!”
At first I thought this questionnaire would be a cute thing to do.  Then I answered the questions, just for fun.  What I didn’t realize was that at the end of answering these and sharing them in the comment section of her post, I would feel lighter.  It was as if a burden was lifted and I was no longer on this journey by myself.
Below are my answers to most of the questions, which I posted in the comment section of the Day 176 update:
How long have you been waiting? After being foster parents for over 4 years we are now at the point of adopting our kids. It has been 2 years and 50 weeks (1080 days) since they moved in, 21 months (about 630 days) since termination of parental rights.
Any News? Yes! In 17 days we get to finalize the adoption.
How are you feeling today? Excited to finally have the end in sight, nervous that something will go wrong and we won’t get to adopt, and cautious to mention it to anyone we know (see being nervous)
What are your prayers right now? That we will get to the court date without any hiccups. AND that once the adoption is finalized and our home reopens for more foster kids, I will be patient and continue to learn to wait on His timing – that I’ll be content with our family as it is if that is His wish.
What have you done with your kids this week? Great question. It is so easy to lose this focus when being distracted by something ‘looming’ in the distance. Built a tent in the living room that then stretched across the playroom and into a bedroom. Read books. Baked cookies.
Nervous about anything? See prayer requests above.
Dreaming about/Looking forward to this week: Having kids with the same last name as us. No more case worker visits every month (at least for these kids). Sunshine and gardening. Walks to the park. The sound of the lawnmower…as a local teen mows our grass. 🙂
What are you doing to prepare? To prepare for the finalization, I am picking up the house in case people want to come by once they hear about it happening. To prepare for potential new foster kids (we told our agency no new kids till this adoption was finished; the kids really needed the time and are doing so much better) I am decluttering, adding meals to the freezer, and trying to get to all those projects around the house that have piled up.
How are you taking care of yourself this week? Exercising a few times this week and finishing up a book I started.
New Baby Items: Part of the decluttering involved getting out old shirts to make into prefold diapers. There is no guarantee of a baby in our future, but these can always be given to someone else if it turns out we don’t need them.
Did you catch the part about “Any News?”  That’s right, the adoption process is finally about to come to a close.  This is the part where I was very, very tempted to keep the news to myself. “What if something happens (from the state or agency side of things) and the court date is delayed?” “What if someone says something and the agency decides to move the kids?” “What if the birth family call the hot line and makes a false claim?” “What if a new worker comes along and doesn’t like us?” “What if there is a blizzard and we have to wait another month or two?”  – okay, this may is most likely to happen this winter, but for once I’m praying for no snow on this particular date.  🙂 “What if …. what if …. what if …?”
Psalm 19 14 It was at this point that I had to stop myself and remember the second thing I had read and which had made me say, “Ouch.  Yup, I do that.”  I so wish I could find this again, so I’ll keep searching, till then let me paraphrase – by keeping points along the journey to ourselves we are taking away the opportunity for those around us to celebrate with us or to support us in our trials.  Just like we all anticipate the birth of a baby whom we aren’t carrying and rejoice when it is born, so those around us anticipate the finalization of our adoption and celebrate the (official) new members of our family.  They celebrate that these little people will be a permanent part of their lives as well.  Who am I to take away that joy from them?
My concern has always been the part where things don’t always go as planned.  How do I explain it?  We started the adoption phase with these particular kids almost 2 years ago.  2 years! I knew it was going to be a long wait and wanted to enjoy it a bit before telling others.  Surely in 6 months we would be almost there and then we could tell people.  It was somewhere about 9 months later that we told the first person (parents).  Another 6 months before we told anyone else (a sibling).  This part was taking longer than we thought.  The thing was, it was during those 15 months when almost nothing happened in the process.  Zilch. In all honesty, it should have been completed by that point, not just starting.  It did allow us time as a family to find our groove, to calm down and find our ‘normal’.  Behaviors greatly improved and we were able to live day to day without the two steps back due to triggers.
Life isn’t perfect, but we are still growing and working on our character flaws – all of us. Part of me is glad we didn’t tell people right away.  That meant we didn’t have to explain how nothing was progressing.  How frustrated we were with the case workers, the agency, the state.  Most people who didn’t know the system didn’t know it shouldn’t have been this way.   (The .01% who did was a high school friend who I forgot worked with a local state’s child care system and picked up on the time frame right away.) Part of me looks back and wonders if we should have told more people sooner.  Isn’t the truth better than whispers and guesses?  It would have given them time to lower barriers they may have put in place to keep their hearts from being broken if the kids were to return home.  They could have started to think of these kids as a more permanent part of their lives and began investing emotionally as such.
I also realized how much I was not relying on God, how much I was not trusting His timing.  Surely He knew what was best, the reason for the delays and fumblings of human hands.  Who am I to question Him? So now with greater confidence, though not from the street corner as I don’t want to cause an accident, I ask all of you to pray for us as we go to court in a week and a half to finalize the adoption of our foster kids.

Linked up at:

growinghomemakers link-up banner Modest Mom blog button copy