Archive of ‘Adoption’ category

Adopted

I wrote my first blog in a while last week, and it was a doozie. I wasn’t nervous, per se, to reveal what I felt like was a pretty personal experience. I was….sad. Embarrassed. And then I was afraid people would think I was writing that blog from a place of, “Hey, look at me!! Look how hard it’s been!” It actually took me a few days to realize I was writing it because sharing my own garbage quiets it down, and also gives other people the chance to look at their own garbage and say, “See?! You’re not so loud, stupid garbage.”
Then, as the Universe would have it, I was almost immediately met with a vibration equal to the one I was practicing when I shared that blog. The very next morning at 7:45am, I got a phone call.
“Hey. Ms. Salem? You’ve been matched.”
No, I have not reapplied to be on “The List.”
But I did forget that three weeks ago, Bear and I applied to be on “A List.” We offically became foster Boxer parents. So that phone call, less than 12 hours after I published a blog revealing my sadness over the little boy that was to be mine, I was gifted another little boy.

His name is Frazier.

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The timing was astounding, as timing always is when you let it be. A two-year-old Boxer baby was being surrendered by his owner because he couldn’t keep up with this guy’s energy. I was absolutely thrilled, and so were the boys. A new, albeit temporary, member of our family.

Like every new experience or relationship, it started out roses. We were almost long distance, Frazier and me, exchanging pictures and texts before we first met. Of course, like any intelligent woman in this day in age, I did a background check. No diseases, no aggressive behavior, no past owners dead of “unknown causes.” He was a perfect fit.

Then. He got here. And let’s just say while Frazier and I hit it off quite well, the other two dogs will a little bit pissed.
Charlie, our older Boxer, just stared at me. “Why in the hell would you do this to me?”
Bella, our younger (but still older) Boxer immediately staked her claim and showed Frazier where she kept her teeth.
There was a good bit of running and leaping through the back yard, and a fair amount of Bear pulling Frazier off of one of the other dogs. In total, it was about an hour’s worth of, “What the hell have we done?”

Today, though, he’s been an angel. A wild, bucking, adorable, completely-unaware-he’s-more-than-just-a-head angel. And nothing (major) has been broken. I even got a call today from a prospective family who is looking to adopt him. And who wouldn’t?! Look at that face.

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I love that the Universe shows me what life would be like with more moving parts; the moving parts I think I want or think I need to be happy. He shows me and then he creates a way for me to release those moving parts safely and with love in order to dig in deeper to all the gratitude floating around my brain for what’s already here. I am loving having Frazier in this family, but two dogs is probably enough. I know I would have loved the little guy who might have joined my life 3 years ago, but I didn’t know yet that I already had two boys, and two boys is definitely enough and totally awesome. (Besides. I don’t want to have an actual drinking problem…) So here’s to the Universe giving me exactly what I need exactly when I need it, as if to say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. And wait ’till you see what I’ve got up my sleeve next!”

Notice my dogs wont even look at him.

Notice my dogs wont even look at him.

Sorry I Stopped Blogging for Three Months

“You stopped blogging?!”
I know. I know. Sorry. My brain went on retreat. I had some personal work to do, some freedom to feel, and some focus to refocus. I’m not sure if I’m finished, but I’m a whole lot closer than I was three months ago.
I realized that I was living and re-living the parts of my life I don’t like over and over again. I was giving waaaaay too much attention to the things I didn’t like. I had to let go of “reality” because my claws were in it way too deep. I’ll share more on that whole experience when I’m further away from it, but for now, we’re moving on.

ive

I took the liberty of creating the show’s new promotional poster.

And we’re moving on to fall television.
Last week, I was on my period. (Sorry, gentlemen.) I was crying over EVERYTHING. Abe’s balloon popped. I cried. Bear had a miscommunication with a contractor. I cried. I decided I wanted ice cream for dinner.
Cried.
But let me tell you the very lowest point I’ve hit in a long time…
It’s a little show called, This is Us.
I saw Mandy Moore in the previews and I just adore her, so I recorded it with the expectation that we would have a new grown up show/movie to watch that doesn’t include people being blown up or Kevin Hart. (Those are pretty much Bear’s choices when it comes to entertainment. Did you know that you can make the exact same movie 700 times? Kevin Hart knows…) And so Friday night when the kids were fed and settled in, I hit play.

I was physically weeping from my entire body within 5 minutes.
WHOLE. BODY. CRYING.

Bear smiled and held my hand for a few minutes until he realized that with every new scene, I began a whole new series of hiccups and shaking. So, he did what any man would do.
He opened a bottle of wine.
“Here, baby. I got you a wine prize.” (That’s what we call it.)
Still crying.
Then…I’m not kidding…he got out a bar of chocolate.
“Look, sweetie! Yum!”
Still crying.
Finally, he asked, “Do you want me to…hold you?”
But it didn’t matter what he did. I drank the wine. (Sorry, BillieFBB.) I ate the chocolate. (Again. Sorry.) I curled up in his arms. There was no stopping me. This stupid show apparently required me to be 100% dehydrated by the end.

SPOILER ALERT
I am going to talk about the final scene of the pilot episode of This is Us. Don’t continue reading if you don’t want to know a huge reveal.

The final scene of the show pulled together a number of lives into a single hospital nursery in the 70s. A father who’d just lost his child during childbirth was seemingly gifted another one who’d been given up by drug-addicted parents. It took me up until that moment to move on to a new phase of my own personal grief. It was all coming out at once. This. is. it: I’m past the anger phase.

I’ve moved on to sadness.

I didn’t get angry over my divorce until about a year and a half after it was finalized. Then I got REAL mad. Luckily I’m surrounded by a GENEROUS group of women who encouraged that anger and listened intently every time I lifted my pointer finger and began, “And ANOTHER thing…”
There was never any indication that there would be more grief when I finally woke up one morning no longer feeling angry. I thought I’d finished that chapter. Especially when I got married again!
But as it turns out, a new husband does not eliminate the pain of having an ex-one of those. They aren’t even related topics in life (although many women do tend to see them as being intertwined and I’d like to beg them to stop doing that). Bear proves that to me everyday in the way that he allows me to continue to grieve my last marriage. He really does.

Side note: I don’t even want to call him my ex-husband anymore. He is not an “ex” that left my life. I talk to him all the time. I raise a child with him and his wife. He is my prior husband. The one from before. My before-husband. Let’s try that.

In the last scene of This is Us, we watch a young couple bringing home a baby that quite obviously does not belong to them. And that unlocked the sadness level of our grieving game.
Several weeks after I moved out for good and my before-husband filed for divorce, we got an email.
It was an email from the adoption agency.
I don’t remember his name. They may have mentioned it, and I may have blocked it out. I still have the email and it’s not something I’m willing to go back and open.
We’d already written to them months before explaining that we were separated and no longer candidates to adopt a new baby. They were shocked, very sad, but completely understanding. After months of adoption classes (that I blogged about) and paperwork and home visits trying to get ourselves on that coveted list, we were off the list. Just like that.
I guess one person didn’t get that memo, though, because we received an email with a picture. He was a little boy, blonde with blue eyes. Born addicted (I’m not sure to what), he was only 16 months old and he needed a forever family that could give him an opportunity at a life he wasn’t currently living. And we were the people chosen to give him that.

I know deep in my heart that he has amazing parents now. I saw the other families in those adoptions classes, all salivating over pictures on the foster websites and rushing through to finish certification in an attempt to qualify for “this set of siblings” or “that baby girl who needs the feeding tube.” They were glorious folks vying for the babies other people gave up on. Not good people or better-than-you people, but the right people.

I desperately thought we were the right people, and as I look back and see how things fell apart, I can’t believe the people we turned out to be. To be clear, I regret nothing and neither does my before-husband. He is incredibly happily married and finding his own way with grace and dignity. But we aren’t who I thought we were. And that makes me sad.

He would be 5. That little boy that was chosen for us would be 5 and I am so sorry and so sad I never met him. I am, on the other hand, so grateful I somehow ended up with two sons anyway. Cub is my little gentle soul, making his way through life with so many random, thoughtful comments and interesting perspectives (and a VERY secret new chicken recipe he shared with his Dad and I that I can’t tell you but it’s going to be REALLY good and he’s going to dye the sauce green so you can’t guess what’s in it based on what color it is). Abe is my ham and my BS detector, constantly calling us all on our misalignment in ways we can’t possibly ignore.
I will never know what role 5 would have played in our family. But I’m thinking about him, and praying that he never feels a sense of rejection by the parents who didn’t have their shit well enough together to accept him as a gift at the time he was offered.

Grief can happen overnight, from beginning to end. It can also take as long as the experience itself took. (I’m hoping my process is somewhere in between.) For now, I’m crying at commercials and rainbows and flourishing flowers and dying flowers alike, because for me it’s all representing the next layer I’ve got to shed. Though I might throw a Kevin Hart movie in there sometimes just to lighten shit up…

Don’t Write That

photoConnie texted me at 3:30pm.

“I’m on my way!”

I put the final touches on the flowers on the dining room table and ensured the right music was playing. She walked in to our house a few moments later with a somewhat hesitant demeanor. Her face said, “Hiee!” but her body said, “I’m here on business, and I do have to keep this professional.” It made me nervous. Nervouser.

She sat down at our dining room table and spread out all of her paperwork. She began checking things off and flipping through folders, and I watched her. Feeling she was being watched, she stopped. “How are you feeling?”

“Nervous,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because, well…” I went on to talk about Gay Rights going to the Supreme Court. Of course, that had me anxious all day. I’m not sure why that was my first response. I guess because I didn’t want to admit that I was terrified I could be handed a kid within weeks. “I just get so fired up about this topic, I want people to be equal and I will stand up for them and their rights. I mean, this is America for fuck’s sake, and people can’t get married?! Don’t write that…”

“Write what?”

“The ‘f’ word.”

“Ok,” Connie smiled.

Connie interviewed us for about 2 hours. She asked about where I went to high school and what it was like. She asked how David and I met and I told her we met after his ex-girlfriend and I became friends when he dumped her and then I ended up secretly dating Dave a few weeks later without her knowing and then she hated me.

“Don’t write that.”

She asked if we liked our careers. She asked about our parents, our family histories, the different dynamics between us and our siblings. She asked us to describe our marriage, to which I immediately responded, “Normal but also adventurous,” and my husband immediately replied, “Boring.”

“Don’t write that,” I said.

“Which part?”

“Any of it. Just put that we’re best friends.”

She asked us about our house, how many fire alarms we have and such. It was about this time that David announced, “We need snacks.” He cut up cheese, got crackers and pretzels, and also a small tub of pimento cheese spread. He laid it all out and Connie ate as she asked us more questions. She asked us where we were born, where we were raised, what our relationships with our own mothers was like. She asked us questions for about 2 hours.

“Ok! So now I’m going to take pictures. Is that OK?” Connie asked.

“Sure! Um, just, go ahead wherever you want to go!” She walked around taking pictures of everything from every angle while I started cooking dinner. After taking pictures, she spread everything back out over the dining room table and began writing again. She made notes and drew lines and checked boxes. I chopped shrimp and sauteed ginger. “Do you eat shrimp?” I asked.

“Yes!”

“I’m making shrimp lettuce wraps for dinner, so, please stay and eat with us if you’re hungry!” I have never taken such care to cut perfectly cubed pieces of shrimp as I did last night. I chopped the cilantro like a damn 5-star chef. If you only could have seen the precision with which I whisked the peanut-sauce…As I prepared what I hoped would be the greatest meal I’d ever made, Connie started with the child check-list. This was the hardest part.

“So I’m going to give you some possible scenarios and you are going to tell me ‘Acceptable,’ ‘Would Consider,’ or ‘Unacceptable.’ Ok?”

David was on the floor in the living room with Abraham and I was in the kitchen. Connie started. “A child with dental problems.”

“Acceptable,” we both said.

“Orthopedic issues?”

“Acceptable.”

“Difficulty connecting with parental figure?”

“Acceptable.”

“Difficulty connecting with maternal figure?”

“Acceptable.”

“A child who has been sexually abused?”

Pause. “Unacceptable,” I said.

“Would consider?” David asked.

“But we have Abe. If the child was sexually abused, the likelihood of him or her perpetrating is high. We can’t do that.”

“Ok. You’re right. Unacceptable,” he relented.

“A child who has been physically abused.”

“Would consider,” we said in unison.

“A child who was abandoned.”

“Would consider,” we said.

“A child who is drug-addicted.”

“Would consider,” we said.

“A child with behavioral issues.”

“Would consider.”

It went on like this for about 30 minutes. We discussed, we debated, and we deferred to Connie for suggestions, which she gladly helped us talk out. In essence, we built different versions of a child we would accept and then trusted that we could handle the things we think we can handle because, damnit, then we signed the papers. We signed off on the kind of child we agreed to adopt.

We signed. The papers.

“Do you drink wine, Connie?”

“I’m a social worker. Yes, I drink wine,” she quipped.

“I’m a drinker. I love me some wine. Don’t write that,” I said.

We clinked over shrimp filled lettuce wraps and the evening took a deep breath and exhaled a sigh of relief. We signed. That part is over. And as I refilled Connie’s wine glass I thought, Well, I guess we passed.

In the end, Connie and I turned out to be long lost friends. We know each other from a former life, we’re so similar in our behaviors and life stories. We sat on the front porch for hours, literally hours, laughing and being honest and telling our secrets. David passed in and out of the conversation, but mostly it was just us girls. “I’m so glad I’m going to Haiti,” she said at one point. “This would be way more inappropriate if I wasn’t leaving my job next week.” Don’t write that, I thought.

Finally, at about 10:15, I told Connie it was time for me to get to bed and she agreed it was time for her to head home as well. We came inside and signed the last piece of paper, something about SIDS, and gave each other hugs. My case worker ends up being my friend and all that panicking was for nothing.

We have 2 classes left and, as soon as those are complete, we are on the list and ready to go. And then, we could wait 5 years for a kid. Or, 5 minutes. There is zero way of knowing. And I kind of like it that way.

 

 

 

T-1 Hour

michelle-duggar-300I’ve spent this day organizing, cleaning, detailing, spraying, wiping, preparing, and cooking. I just realized I forgot vacuuming. I still need to vacuum.

I realize none of this has any bearing over whether or not someone chooses to place a child with us. Playfully leaving toy cars and trucks all over the house will not convince the case worker that we’re organized but still totally cool about toys lying around because, “Hey! We’re super chill and organized parents, all at the same time!” Buying yellow flowers for the dining room table won’t make or break this deal. So we’ll just say I bought the yellow flowers this morning for myself. Giving Abe a bath before nap time so he’s clean and fresh for her visit this afternoon is not the deciding factor, but he was really dirty and we got home late from Passover last night and there wasn’t enough time for a shower. And I let him watch Dora the Explorer the entire time was in the shower this morning so I didn’t get to clean him up then, and obviously, don’t tell the case worker I let him watch TV on the iPad this morning instead of being a parent.

Stuff that makes me a normal parent is the stuff I’m scared will click the blue pen in her hand and convince it to do something awful.

So I sat down to chill out for a minute and saw this: Duggars Considering Adoption.

Really, Duggars? You deserve all the kids you want, you obviously take good care of them. But can you’ve got TWENTY. TWENTY. Can I just have ONE? Just leave ONE for me. I don’t want to be in competition with you. No one’s going to walk into your house and wonder why there’s crap everywhere. It’s because there’s people everywhere. No one is going to question how many kids are sleeping in a room or whether the flowers in the kitchen are fresh or dead/dying or if you’ve cleaned out your refrigerator/pantry/underwear drawer. They’ll be thrilled you’ve kept 20+ people alive for 20+ years. I’ve only got one kid, I find him overwhelming as hell, and I didn’t even eat breakfast this morning. Stop. We get it. You’re amazing. LEAVE A KID FOR THE REST OF US.

My dearest friend texted me as I started down a shame spiral about my worth as a mother and said, “Don’t detail everything. Perfection is not in the details. It’s in who you are.” And if I haven’t read enough Brene Brown to know that…

So, in T-1 hour, I will be touring my house, checking off lists, signing paperwork, and cooking dinner for my family. I have no idea how much bourbon is suggested for an experience like this, but I don’t think there’s enough in the house.

Who here thinks…

“Who here thinks that, like, when you adopt  a child, you should talk expecially bad about their bio parents to them?”

For three weeks, these are the questions I’ve been facing/dodging/drinking through. Let’s just ignore the fact that the grammar is completely atrocious. And let’s ignore that pesky little, “like” that snuck into the middle of that sentence, serving no purpose. Sometimes the questions in my adoption class are so unbelievably asinine that no one can even figure out how to begin answering them. Like this one:

“In the video, Norma is 15 and she was incredibly angry at her adoptive parents for taking her out of her bio parents home. Why do you think she was so angry?”

Do I just re-state the question back to her? Do I come up with a reason, like she stubbed her toe on the way out and she’s always had a thing for blaming other people when she stubs her toe? Do I point out that everyone in the room is 7 levels beyond this question and would prefer discuss the ins and outs of the legal system as it pertains to the likelihood that they’ll ever be matched with a child to raise and love like their own???

Then someone interrupts my train of thought and slowly asks, “Because her adoptive parents took her away from her bio parents and she misses them?”

“EXACTLY,” our teacher will reply.

It’s like Jeopardy for 4th graders.

We also have massive amounts of “homework.” It entails us answering questions similar to those above. If I’m answering most of them honestly, my answer is that the kid is going to be totally screwed up and it will take months and/or years to normalize their routines and get them comfortable in our home while still acknowledging that they will ALWAYS remember their bio parents and wonder about them and throw them in our faces (“You’re not even my real mom.”) and then leave us to go find them when they’re 18 like we never existed. But, usually I just write, “Yes, I think Vernon will have a hard time adjusting.”

I’m good at jumping through hoops and doing my homework and all that school-based stuff. It’s just that I think as a class that’s meant to be preparing me for owning and operating a child, it’s not teaching me any applicable information. They keep telling us, “We’ll cover that during the Home Study,” which now appears to be a catch-all for anything that isn’t covered in the class. I mean, when they finish a section with, “Any question?” and someone asks, “Yes, once we adopt the child can we move out of state?” and the answer is, “Oh, you can’t do anything with the child for 3 months until the adoption is finalized. You can’t leave them with anyone else or go anywhere outside of the county until the adoption is finalized,” DOESN’T THAT SEEM LIKE AN IMPORTANT FACT THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MENTIONED IN THE CURRICULUM ITSELF RATHER THAN THE HAPPENSTANCE FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS??!!

Sorry for yelling.

4 more classes.

Have a beautiful weekend.