Monday, August 23, 2010

To adopt, or not to adopt... What exactly is the question?

Hubby and I are faced with what will likely be the most important decision of our adult lives: Whether or not we should adopt the two babies we’ve been fostering since January and February. Today, the birth mom told the caseworker that she is considering surrendering her rights. We think she’s pregnant again, which is why we think she’s considering surrendering—if she gets social services out of her life, she has a better shot at keeping number three.

Reasons aside, how do you know if you’re making the right decision? Hubby wants to sit down and do a pros and cons list, and have a conversation about it. I know we need to, but when I think about making this decision, all I want to do is cry. And I don’t know what that means.

I’ve always been a “gimme a sign” kind of girl. We have known without a doubt that we were supposed to adopt every other time we have, and I’ve been praying and hoping for the same clear signs this time, but so far, nothing. And I don’t know what that means.

When I think about the future with these babies—as little kids, as pre-teens, as teenagers, as young adults—and I see three very different paths. I see them with their bio mom. I see them with us. And I see them with someone else—usually, in all honesty, someone who looks more like them than we do. People younger. People less jaded.

I think of how hard it’s been with Marie and Dawn and Danae and Leigh, and I wonder what impact that has had on the babies, what impact it would have on them in the future. I know Leigh is a horrible influence, and that Danae would be devastated if we don’t adopt. And I still can’t decide.

I think of their beautiful big brown eyes and their faces smiling into someone else’s face and calling someone else mom. And I cry. Then I think about getting to pick them up and take them fun places on weekends as grandparents and I don’t cry as much.

I think of all the time I spend with them, that I spend doing for them, and wonder what I did before, and what I would do after, if they leave. I think about their bio mom crying, looking at the photo album we gave her and her saying, “They look so happy.” And I wonder if them being adopted by someone else would ruin the happiness we’ve worked so hard to help them find.

Will they remember us five years down the road? Ten years? Twenty years? Or will we be there with them, at our own retirement ages, as they graduate and go to college. I can’t decide which picture has the stronger pull, and I don’t know what that means. Or if it means anything at all.

Sometimes, I think the fact that I’m even struggling with this decision is a sign. But a sign to keep them or let them go? Are we being selfish to want to keep them? I know there are hundreds of young couples who are where Hubby and I were ten years ago—eager and breathless and full of hope and anticipation, waiting for the phone call that is the beginning of labor pains for them. But then I wonder if maybe the dark road we’ve traveled with our four older girls has been a test, and the babies are the reward.

Are we being selfish to consider letting them go? I miss my husband, and the marriage we had before we had kids. I miss spending time with him without kids around, and we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel with the older ones, and we starting to plan on what to do with the extra space in our empty nest. Plus, with Leigh being so completely special, we need more time with her. But what impact will it have on the babies if they leave us for another family? What impact will it have on the four who are already ours?

And what does it mean that I can’t answer a single question I’ve posted here? And that I don’t know what any of it means? And that I’m crying as I type, with no clearer perspective?

And I still don’t know which one would hurt less.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Questions, Questions

I have lots of them today. Bear with me. Answer them if you can.  Offer humor if you can. 

1.  Am I unreasonable to expect my almost 16 year-old daughter to be responsible for her own laundry?  And to not let her go out in public with me if she is not clean and appropriately dressed?  This is Leigh we're talking about--  my RAD/OCD/PTSD/Depression/BPD child, who consistently has to be sprayed down before we go somewhere because she smells bad. 

2. Am I unreasonable to NOT allow my almost 17 year-old daughter share a bed behind closed doors with her girlfriend. (She's gay, so this is not a "just a friend," this a "we're dating" girlfriend.)  I'm opposed to any sort of spend-the-nights since they are in HS and I don't care if you're straight or gay, it is not appropriate to spend the night with the person you're dating.  My friend Katie, a lesbian, agrees with me, but she says she's so conservative she beats herself up in the parkinglot. 

3.  Am I unreasonable to expect my teenagers to complete basic housekeeping chores for the good of the family, even if they didn't personally make the mess in question?  My theory is that you ate the damn food that I worked to pay for AND cooked, you can clean up the kitchen. 

4.  And along those lines, if I ask you to do something, and you don't do it or half-ass it, I reserve the right to tell you no to something you want done, just on the backscratching principle.  Right?

5.  Is it wrong that we're still waffling about adopting the babies?  Is that a sign we shouldn't?  Or a sign that for the first time in our adult lives, we're looking at something long and hard before jumping in?

6.  Since Leigh has been off her meds, I have done a lot of thinking. Is it wrong that I plan to bully her into a birth control implant that she can't remove without pain and difficulty?  Is it wrong that I am starting to fantasize about spiking her food with Prozac?

7.  And am I wrong to be FURIOUS and HURT that bio-grandma called Danae's phone?  This is a violation of our agreement to move at our speed on bio-grandma's part; and for Danae, a violation of the promise she made to NOT give her cell number to her bio-family. 

That's all for now.  Thanks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Messin' with the Kids

Sometimes you just have to mess with your kids to have a little fun. 

Yesterday, Hubby and I had a date. We took the babies to daycare, sneaking out of the house while the teens were still asleep, and went to the beach.  We packed two small coolers with our adult, refreshing beverages, and parked on the beach. 

I have a new favorite drink--Smirnoff Ice Green Apple Bite.  Amazingly delicious.  Like a Jolly Rancher Candy in liquid form.  But I'm birdwalking.

We spent th eday sunning, swimming, eating, drinking and generally enjoying each other's company, reminding ourselves why we got married in the first place. 

After lunch, we went for ice cream. The problem was that it was over 100 degrees, and the chocolate ice cream kept attacking my husband's clothes. By the time we got home, it looked like dried blood stains on his shirt and shorts, so we went with it. 

Leigh:   What is that on Dad's shirt?
Me:   Blood.
Leigh:   What happened??  (Shock and interest)
Hubby:   Someone was hitting on your mom, so I handled it.
Leigh:   No way.  You hit someone?
Me:   No. He knocked someone's lights out.
Leigh:   Did the cops come? 
Me:   Not sure.  We left pretty quickly after that. 
Leigh, running from the room:  Danae!  Danae!  Dad got in a fight at the beach today and has blood all over him!!
Danae, coming out to look: OMG, Dad. Did you really hit someone?
Hubby just stood there, with his arms out, letting the girls get a look at the stains. 

It was THE topic of conversation yesterday.  Apparantly, word of my husband's alleged bar fight made it to my mom, twenty-three hours away, with the information that I'd gotten a tattoo.  They left out the part about it being henna. 

So now, Hubby has some street cred with the teens, I giggle everytime I think about it, and all is normal in our world.   I know it's probably against good parenting to mess with your kids like that, but it was just so amusing, we couldn't help it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Funny at the Mall

We were at the indoor playground at the mall, MoMo was running around, and I was rocking NaNa in her car seat.  A precocious little girl with big blue eyes and dimples skipped up to me and said, "She doesn't go with you."

I smiled at her, and said, "Yes, she does."

Girl, looking at NaNa and then at me:  But she's black.

Me: Yes she is.  Do you know what adoption is?

Girl, looking puzzled: No.

Me:  When a mommy won't take care of her babies, and someone else does, they call that adoption. 

Girl: Oh. 

She skips off to the slide.  Convo over.

I told Blue Eyes' parents about our little conversation before we left.  They were really apologetic.  I assured them that I wasn't offended, but that I wanted to let them know in case the subject came up later.

Still makes me smile a little, even though we haven't adopted the babies, it was the easiest way I could think to explain it on the spur of the moment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Seven Things I Didn't See Coming... Last Week

So, instead of a wrap-up, I'm just going to start looking at the things that surprised me, the things that were unexpected. 

So here are my seven from the week of August 8.

1. I went to a drag show with my oldest daughter, Marie. I gave a drag queen money, which he/she took from my teeth with her (his?) tongue. No touching. And, as an unexpected bonus, I was sober.

2. Then, we went to a dance club. At 1:30AM. I have not danced, in a bar, around other people, since 1995. Again, I was sober. However, the man who kept grinding on my backside and elbowing everyone around us was not.

3. Leigh decided to take herself off her meds. She did okay for the first week, but this week, back at home, she’s not doing so well.  (You can loosely translate that as we want to kill her, but haven't found a way to get away with it yet.)

4. I found out that Leigh is having sex. Again. But with whom I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to know. With her off meds, she is not taking pills daily, which means being on the pill is no longer the best, easiest option to keep her un-impregnated.

5. The philosophical dilemmas I’m having with #4 are many. First, Leigh is 15. Sex at 15 is a bad idea no matter what, and we’ve been battling sex issues with her since she moved in with us when she was six. Second, if she gets pregnant, there are obviously many other big, big issues. Like the fact that I don’t believe in abortion, and that mental illness runs deep in her bio-family. And she is completely incapable of caring for a child. She can’t remember to put on pajamas. I shudder to think how a child left to her care would survive. And I don’t want to raise another baby, but I feel very strongly about keeping families together. Borrowing trouble? Maybe. But I’d rather prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

6. One week left until I go back to work. Ugh. Summer vacation is great. Ending it is not.

7. I haven’t heard from Dawn in two weeks. She made the mistake of asking me to be honest with her, and then not liking the answer. She’s also ignoring everyone else, which only makes me feel marginally better.

That's it.

Next week comes with more court, more caseworkers, more therapy, and my last week of summer. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons From Vacation

Vacation is not as much fun as when I was a kid. Or before I was a parent. Or before I became an adoptive parent to special needs kids.

In the interests of spending time on the beach and time with my brother, getting to know his preggo wife, I rented a two bedroom condo with a pool and beach view.

It was a lot smaller than the pictures, a lot farther from the beach than the pictures, and very over decorated. Yes, it’s a beach condo. We do not need to be reminded of this fact with a fish or boat motif-ed in every square foot. But I birdwalk.

Here are the things I learned on vacation:

1. Not all technology definitions are equal. Our landlord for the week assured me before I paid him that we’d have Wifi. My brother works from home on-line, so he had to have the internet. I’m taking an on-line class and wanted to blog and stuff. So it was a priority. Our landlord’s definition of Wifi was to use the neighbor’s. The problem was that the neighbor changed the password and wouldn’t return our landlord's call. Brother spent a lot of time in a national-chain overpriced coffee shop. I just turned my school work in late. Lucky for me, I have an online prof who is very understanding.

2. Not everyone has the same level of tolerance for crazy that I have. You have heard from my blog that my children are kind of special. We have lots of things going on, and lots of behaviors that are outside the realm of what others might see as normal. My brother and his wife—Don’t get me wrong, I love them—they don’t live my life, or near my life, so they don’t know what normal is for us. Our normal level of crazy, I think, might have made them twitch. There were several moments when I caught them looking at me like I was either crazy or, well, crazy.

3. Not everyone has the same gag reflex. I think nothing of changing a diaper on the floor in the middle of the living room. And honestly, I don’t care how many people are there. Or what they’re doing. A wet baby is a screaming baby, and ending the screaming humanely, without me going to jail, is way more important to me than the fact that you’re eating squash casserole. Which, I must say, looks remarkably like what was in the diaper. Which is probably why you started gagging and running from the room. I’d apologize, but you’re pregnant, and you needed to learn that lesson before you finish procreating. Baby poo is gross. Accept that fact and life will be much easier for you in five months.

4. Your intoxicated brother can and will tell your kids stories about you that you don’t want them to hear. I really didn’t want my kids to hear about me giving my brother and all his friends condoms when they were in HS (no pregnancies in that graduating class, thank you very much). I didn’t want them to hear about us rescuing my drunken father from the back office of a bar. I didn’t want them to know I smoked, or drank, or dated before my husband. I was a perfect, virginal pure young lady prior to my wedding day. (Yeah right, but you know where I’m going here, right?) My brother, after a few drinks, decided to tell them all about my sordid past of teenage infatuations with bad boys and cheap wine coolers.

5. Whether or not the stories are true is beside the point. See number four. I deny everything. Those pictures are clearly photo-shopped.

6. Your time spent on the beach will decrease inversely proportionately to the number of children in diapers. I spent about $1000 on the condo, about $200 traveling, and about $400 on supplies from food to toilet paper to beach stuff. I spent less than two hours on the beach the entire week, despite the fact that it was less than a football field from our condo, and despite the fact that I was desperate for beach time. Two kids in diapers will do that. So will four teenagers who do not have any appreciation for the deeply brewing insanity inside their mom’s head.

7. If there is a chance for the crazy to come out in your kids, it will. We’d been there for five days. It was inevitable. Danae and Tonya (her “friend”) got into a screaming, yelling, cursing fight in front of the condo. Then it came inside where a table and chair got broken. It went back outside, and Danae and Leigh ended up in an actual physical fight. (I mentioned the place was small, right?)

There was lots of noise and yelling and stomping, as Leigh got more involved. CC just watched the whole thing, wondering what the heck she'd gotten herself into.  Security was called. I explained to the nice man with the patch on his arm that I have crazy teenagers, and they’ve almost got it out of their system. But that if they couldn’t settle down in the next ten minutes I’d be the one calling the police. Security didn’t seem convinced and Patch-man hovered under our balcony for about 45 minutes.

8. If the crazy comes out, and security gets involved, prepare to be embarrassed. Everyone around us looked at us funny for the two days left of our trip. At least back home, our neighbors can’t HEAR the crazy. In public, we usually take great pains to keep our crazy tucked away for later. And I’m sure that the stares had nothing to do with my openly gay daughter walking around holding hands with her sweetie, or Leigh’s friend CC, who is tatted and pierced and has pink hair, or our decidedly dark-skinned babies that none of us could have given birth to. I'm sure it was the ghetto-style brawl.  Right?

9. You will not want to cook as much as you plan to. We planned to eat out only once. My brother and his wife bought groceries for the rest of the week. We ate out four times. And they took the groceries home. Next summer, we just plan to only cook twice. It’s easier that way.

10.  Everything is more expensive the closer you get to the beach.  Brother and Preggo bought two back-pack lawn chairs from a Wings chain store. They spent $85.  Several giant chain stores sell the same things for about $20 each.  Gas was up 30 cents a gallon. And speaking of gallons, milk was outrageous at about $4 a jug. 

11. You will not be invited to rent again if any of the following happen: broken furniture, broken knick-knacks or complaints about your boogey-board and towel placement. I left the landlord a check to cover the damage, and asked him to call me. So far, my phone has not rung, and I am not holding my breath.

Oh well.

As Preggo pointed out, there are lots of places at the beach.