Tuesday, 18 November 2014

How we found the foster/adopt path

I realized the other day that I never really explained here how S and I came to consider foster/adoption.

I don't recall S and I ever  discussing in depth before we got married what our future family would look like. Or possibly even mentioning it all. Perhaps because we'd sort of been friends for quite a while, we skipped over a lot of those important conversations and kind of jumped right off the precipice without looking. We did this a lot with big decisions and yet somehow we always found a soft - or soft enough - landing. This was no different.

As it turned out, we both felt that there were already an awful lot of people cluttering up the world, and so the voluntary human extinction movement seemed to make sense. It fit with our crunchy granola tendency to tree-hug,  and after all, there are hundreds of millions of orphans out there needing families. We reasoned that when and if we wanted to raise a family, we would adopt a little girl from China. We’re an interracial couple anyway, so my lily-white ass would be the only odd one out. That was plan A,  and it seemed perfect until we realized how much it cost. What can I say- we were young(ish) and naive. And broke. So much for China.

We'd mentioned our plan to a few friends and family members,most notably a relative who had worked in social services. She assumed we meant to adopt domestically. She'd witnessed the struggles her colleagues had been through with their adopted kids, and she regaled me with every horror story she could dredge up. It worked; I was inexperienced and childless, and parenting is murky water anyway. I was convinced I couldn't handle it. With foreign adoption a lottery win away and the perils of domestic adoption fresh in our minds, it was time to develop plan B. (Of course, now I realize that all adoption is rooted in loss, domestic and international, and that is a traumatic event for every child...but that is a whole other post.)

Several years later, Plan B arrived, followed shortly after by Plan B Mark II. We thought we were done until the kidlets got much older, when we planned to foster. Then last year, I learned about foster adoption in our province. I read everything I could about the program. I haunted message boards, did some deep thinking and some obsessive googling. I realized that I still wanted this -really wanted this-  and that the relative who had warned me from this path years ago is someone who not only hates to be inconvenienced, but isn't actually all that fond of children. Of course that person would advise against it! Now I was excited. The murky parenting waters had cleared a bit. I mentioned it to S, who was cautiously on board and agreed to attend an info session with me. The information presented in that session made it clear to us both that this was probably the right thing to do for our family, but it was probably not the right time to do it. 

We think the right time is now, or coming soon. Tomorrow we attend the second info session. This is a sort of joint evaluation, I think - they are looking at us looking at them. If we all agree that we like what we see, then they ask us on a second date -they invite us to begin the application process. I’ve been told that is a mountain of paperwork (it can make  friends with Mt. Laundry ) and can take up to a year for approval once the application is in. Then we wait for placement.

We know this won't be easy, but we believe it'll be worth it. We know it’s a hard, long process –and I am not the best at waiting. I find I handle it a lot better if I can plan and research, so I've read anything and everything I can find that is related to adoption, attachment, trauma, and fostering. I am still looking for more. I find it's reawakening my old punk self, tempered now with more common sense but still passionate about advocacy for the overlooked and disenfranchised, the poor and the disdained. My husband’s passion (other than art-making) is  in the conversation  around the treatment of  Canada's First Nations and the residential schools truth and  reconciliation. It is all part of the same whole to us. I think we may have found our thing. 

There is a quote from one of my all-time favourite novels, JD Salinger's  Franny and Zooey:

In my opinion, if you really want to know, half the nastiness in the
world is stirred up by people who aren't using their true egos.
Take your Professor Tupper…. I'd lay almost any odds that
this thing he’s using, the thing you think is his ego, isn’t his ego
at all but some other, much dirtier, much less basic faculty….
Scratch an incompetent schoolteacher — or, for that matter,
college professor — and half the time you find a displaced
first-class automobile mechanic or a goddam stonemason....
Nobody who’s really using his ego, his real ego, has any time 
for any goddam hobbies.

I’m not incompetent at my job, but we want a life where we don’t have time for hobbies. This is one step toward that meaningfulness in our daily lives. Wish us luck.

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