Saturday, September 26, 2015

Adoption Blog #6: Waiting

 Now I understand why pregnant women don’t like to tell people that they are pregnant until they are certain that everything is fine, especially if they have lost a child and/or have been unable to carry it full term. As I wait, having done all that I am supposed to do, people ask me what’s going on with my adoption.  I know I opened the door, but to be honest being asked constantly
, not by the same person, but by different people can add to my anxiety. I am forced to talk about what I can’t do anything about at this point.  I can only wait.  I have been reminded again that the system is overburdened, that the system is run by people who have their own lives and issues and that mine will not necessarily take priority, that faith is not knowing but continuing to hope for the best… I know it takes time. For me, it has been over a year since I started this process.  However, some of my friends and well-wishers have only come to my story a short time ago or during this waiting segment; this is not where my story began. But I still must wait and continue to prepare to receive my child.  One can never be over prepared or fully prepared to parent a child.  I have never been more anxious and looking forward to my life to be drastically interrupted. And I don’t even know, I’m sure, what all that will entail.  I’m looking forward to it because it is not about me.  I have never had some overwhelming desire to be a mother, biologically. And it has nothing to do with loving children. I don’t even fully understand why. But I do have a deep commitment to make a positive difference in a child’s life at this time of my life. 

What am I doing while I wait? Making adjustments. I teach evening classes and so I have not been a morning person, not consistently.  During this waiting period I am turning my body clock around, instead of doing a drastic 180 when she arrives. I have commenced going to bed early (or at least laying in bed for three hours before falling asleep at the time I would have normally gone to bed late). That will take time too! I have writing commitments that I am trying to get a jump on knowing that it will take time when the child arrives to work out a new or different writing schedule. And I know there will always be interruptions. I decided it is time for me to get a primary care doctor, rather than just going to specialty physicians. I am taking care of the stress I have had for some time in my lower back, which has turned into sciatica.  I need to be able to stand in long lines with less physical discomfort and so I am in therapy for my back. A week before I started therapy I had a marvelous hot-stone massage from a masseuse that definitely knows which muscles need the most attention and how much attention; my back felt brand new for several days.  That will be my long term therapy, and I will need to budget for it.

I am making other adjustments during this waiting period as well, and I am sure I will discover others. So I will try to be grateful for this time even as I look forward to the future. Hopefully in the next week I will receive a report on the child I am interested in adopting. Nevertheless, I pray each day for my child to be that she is safe and well-loved in the meantime.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Adoption Blog #5: I finally had my first home study visit!

As some of you know from a recent Facebook post, my journey to motherhood is on track.  I have finally been assigned a licensing caseworker and she made her first home visit with me shortly thereafter. Yay!  I am very pleased with the experience, professionalism, expertise, and compassion that my licensing worker brings to this process.  She has worked as an adoption worker as well as a foster care caseworker.  She brings over ten years of experience to the ministry of helping me through this life altering journey. In
addition to several forms that Ms. K, as I will call her, required that I fill  out during our first home visit, she checked the temperature of my hot water; it was too hot (more than 120 degrees F). I have a temperature control dial on my hot water heater, so I have attempted to cool it down. Ms. K will recheck it during the second home visit this month. Ms. K also had to measure all the rooms in the house to make sure there is adequate space for the number of people who will be living in the household including the child (just me and her). She had a gadget that she placed on an opposite wall and it beamed a red light to the other end giving her the measurements from wall to wall -- cool. I think it is a laser distancing tool. She also asked about any medicines I take and whether they are properly stored away. The only medications I take on occasion are aspirin, Aleve or Ibuprofen, which are kept in the medicine cabinet or in my purse. That seemed to satisfy Ms. K.  

When the child first enters my care, she will be a ward of the state and thus in foster care while in my home until the adoption is finalized. Thus, the state will make sure that every effort is made to maintain a safe and healthy home environment. I had to develop a home evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency, submitting a copy to the agency and keeping one for myself. I will discuss this plan with the child when she arrives in my home. Also, a phone must remain in the home at all times for emergencies. Since land lines are being phased out, it is now acceptable to have a cell phone that is always kept in the home (along with emergency contact numbers). Check!

Something I never thought about as a safety risk was the small pond behind my apartment. Post the first home study visit, Ms. K informed me that I must put an alarm or bell on the patio door that faces the pond. To my surprise there are several types of wireless bells or alarms that can be easily installed. I purchased a set of two for about $15 at Home Depot, placing one on the sliding glass door and one on the screen door as well. As soon as one opens either door a loud shrieking sound alerts me that the doors have been breached. It took me less than five minutes to stall them.

Ms. K did not leave me without my homework. I had to complete an eighteen page self home study that asked me in detail about my upbringing, my parents and their backgrounds, my siblings and my relationship with them growing up and now, all the schools I attended, what I learned from my parents and what I would do differently, my knowledge of child development, what values I would install in my child, my parenting style, the demographics of my neighborhood, the schools my child would likely attend, what recreation facilities and parks are available, my faith and religious habits, my work history, etc etc. I sat down for hours to reflect and complete the self home study. This was a good and helpful exercise. I am becoming more and more aware of how planning, intentionality, and consistency will be my some of my closest allies.  Another lengthy form that I had to complete was a self assessment of the characteristics and challenges I was not willing to deal with or would be willing to deal with with appropriate training -- issues like bed wetting, aggressions, withdrawal, sexual abuse, children who are on medication, mental disabilities of various levels, etc. I know that it is important for me to be realistic about what I can physically, emotionally, and logistically handle. I know that some issues could arise later in life, but I must be honest with myself in terms of my situation now. I will, of course, continue to work/teach (God willing), but also to write. This expectation figures into what kind of issues I can handle or want to handle. While I plan to devote the necessary time to the child  I adopt to ensure she is well nurtured (educationally,emotionally, spiritually and physically) and loved, I cannot lose sight of self care and nurture. I will certainly have to rearrangement my life, but I don't have to give up my other goals, as some seem to think or have suggested. Someone recently said to me that I would not be to write anymore. I feel that a big part of what I do or do not continue to do is up to me and my ability to be creative and take care of myself while taking care of my daughter. It will certainly be an adjustment(s), and it will likely be quite rocky at first. But I believe it is doable, and with sanity.

Over my lifetime there have been people (non family) to offer me help, but when the time came to do what they offered, they fell short -- too often. So I was (and maybe still am) a little worried about my support system.  All of my immediate family (siblings, nieces, nephews) live in Ohio. Since I started on this journey several people outside of my biological family have said that they would be a part of my support system when I need someone to step in and care for my child in emergencies, particularly. I was told that people will promise to help but whether or not they will submit to the needed background check is another thing. So far the three people who offered to be a source of support have submitted to background checks. I am grateful!  I am also grateful for sisters who have adopted (one a baby and another a teenager) who have stepped forward to offer a listening ear and/or advice -- they know who they are. At a later time and with their permission I might mention their names.

I was also very pleased when Ms. K offered to reach out to the caseworker of the child I am interested in adopting. She has requested a report on the child and when it arrives it will be shared with me. Keep praying for me and for my child to be--wherever or whoever she may be.