Last night I had a dream where a young lady had become pregnant. She was older teenager and had a mom and dad. Everyone said get an abortion and rallied to arrange this. The daughter, her mom and dad went along with the community's assessment and planning of things. The community had done this in love. The family piled into the car with inky black skies covering them. This drive was known to be the drive to the clinic. Folks gathered round for a send off; to support the family, waving and cheering. The daughter, mom and dad all smiled and knowingly nodded at each other. They simply drove away, skipping town. Leaving it all behind.
They pulled up to a new house. There stood a huge, barren black tree in the yard. The man spoke, he was a tree man. He saw them and shook like a dog fresh from the bath. Twigs and dead branches broke off. Sort of like a hair cut.
That was it for my dream. Loved how the family bucked the system and rallied to create their own path. Love how they didn't fight the well doers and just did their own thing.
I'm sure this is very much my life, in this dream. We are less than a month from our meeting with the state. It's an informational meeting where in we begin the process of adopting from foster care. I'm not telling a lot of folks because a lot of folks give me the stink eye, in one form or another. Often well meaning stink eye but sometimes downright hostile. There is a lot of fear and myths about adopting from foster care. A lot of questions about why more kids since we have three. A lot of stuff I'm done answering.
I have no frame of reference for this life I've been blessed with. I grew up with just a brother. My husband grew up with a slightly unhinged mom, two sisters and no dad. He says he was a late bloomer. Thick coke bottle glasses. Flooded with hormones, poor social skills and no direction. This is the common theme of him growing up. I believe this is a blessing. He has loads of help he can offer our kids as they struggle. Because he struggled mightily and won. He's very charming and good looking now.
For me, growing up, my common theme was plowing ahead. Going for it even if I had no idea how. Just doing it because it called to me. At the center of it all, has been a quality heart. The driving force has been love. I care and want to help people. It's what God built me for. In a way, He also built me to buck the system. To go against what is comfortable and safe. Because His love cannot be denied.
So maybe this is a strength. I'm done fighting or explaining to the naysayers, no matter how they are trying to help. I'm done because it's already happening. God moved my heart when I was 19 years old, working as a 3rd shift waitress at a greasy spoon. I was a complete idiot and could barely take care of myself. I was not saved. I didn't know God then. But miracles were happening. I knew that I could be a mom, that I could adopt one day. Over 20 years later it's happening. It's just a matter of time.
And the tree part is true too. Got may hair did yesterday. It had been four months and man the dead ends and disheveledness. I got highlights and everything. Looking fantastic today.
I've had a federal job which involved 45 pages of paperwork, including listing all my addresses from age 16. We've been foster parents for 4 years which included about 100 pages of background checks, references etc. So we've contacted the agency that arranges adoptions from foster care, they're sending us a packet. Of paperwork.
It's just very weird. Why can't folks share these things? Why doesn't federal paperwork trump it all? Well I guess, that's not how it works.
So how does this work, I mean in the real life sense? I mean, I've been thinking about this for quite some time, since I was 19. I'm 41 now. With three bio kids. Married x 16 years. How do we add one or two more?
There are children out there free and clear to adopt from the foster care system. I know because when I signed up, to get the paperwork, I was 'matched' with 31 sets of kids. I reviewed most of them. Some of have issues we can't take on. It's the ones with incest and sexual abuse. It's not that we can't taken those kids in, it's that it places our kids at risk. Our level of supervision is not at that level. Saying no is sad and harshly pragmatic. My husband can't stomach the process of combing through files of kids we've been matched with. Imagine going to the humane society only it's real live kids staring at you.
I'm not sure how I'm ok with it. I am though. I take strength in knowing what we can do and who we are. I know what we have to offer as a family. There is something like 400,000 kids waiting to be adopted from foster care. Reading super sad back story after super sad back story doesn't get to me though. I know we can provide a home for two.
I have fears. Fears that it's so much work. Which Mr. Hall guffaws about. The work is really his. He works from home and takes the calls from school, the picking up in the middle of the day because of behaviors. He works the systems and behavior charts. He is seen as a leader to theses kids because they've often never had a dad and wow do they all love Mr. Hall. We've had 10 foster kids in the last 4 years and yeah, they love and listen to him first. Which is wonderful.
So where do I fit in all this? What can I do to help? How do I facilitate what I already see in my head and heart--a family with 5 kids? My cooking is subpar. But I've mastered making tasty meals no one the less. I'm taking better care of myself, eating better and working out. I've stepped up the massages for Mr. Hall which is his love language.
And the paperwork. "That 30 pages is all yours babe", says Mr. Hall.. and so it shall be ;)
I've been a mom for 14 years now. At this point, I'm pretty good at it. CASE IN POINT.
I get a call from day care. My littlest, River, age 4, has puked. I get over there. He's sitting on a child size bench. Little tissues clutched in puffy hands, sniffing and looking sad. I'm wrapping up his puke stained clothes and hear it. The sound of more puke coming up. I grab a near by garbage bin and he explodes streams of reds and blues. I say, "Good job throwing up!" This encouragement is needed. He's scared because when you are four and berry vomit is coming out of your mouth--this is not a normal event. So I normalize and praise. NOT horking down berries until you puke is a lesson we'll save for later. The puking stops. I GET NONE OF IT ON ME OR MY GIGANTIC, FLUFFY WHITE SCARF. Which is around my neck and touching the garbage bin. I'm just that good!
Bodily fluids are easy. Short people are easy. You are bigger then them. You can often correct things with a time out or a taken toy. My daughter is not short anymore. Argues like her mother as well. You can't really give the 'mommy stink eye' when you are at eye level with your child. Houston, we have a problem here.
It's easy to see her as older than she is. When your child uses big words and talks big ideas you can forget how old they really are. It's amazing how she feels completely right about her own reality. There is so much true in such a life, but very little lived wisdom. And that's where it gets complicated.
I'm a believer in listening to kids and trusting them. Fourteen doesn't mean she's to be automatically discounted. Plus, she's older than her two brothers. It's nice having a deep discussions with another, almost woman, in the house. I can totally see us being friends when she is full grown.
But for now, the world is largely abstract and she doesn't really care for rules. Which is why she was late for school 10 times last semester. This was not corrected by me cajoling, threatening, yelling or punishing. It took a 'truancy' hearing with the vice principle and the school cop to get her attention. Her age is the age of self centeredness I guess. Reality is like the landscape outside a moving car on the highway. Vague and sometimes pretty to notice if you happen to look that way.
We spoil our children. I know. We do. And I made the mistake of trying to reason and talk to her like a full grown up. All ten times before the truancy hearing.
So when homework was marked late for the 6th week in a row, I switched tactics. I took her phone and she cried and begged. So now, she has the power to earn the phone back with diligent doage of chores and on time homework. So far, much improvement has been noted.
1. Before I left my old job, I had a chance to lunch with my possible replacement. We went to one of those sandwiches and soup type shops. A chain restaurant that is super overpriced. Organic carrot soup, gluten free buns, bags of chips on the side... blah blah. Five minutes in-- I was done with her. She was not right for the job. Call me judgey. Go ahead.
She was older. This is not why she was wrong for the job. She was older and well into her career which provides itself with certain creature comforts. I am now in the summer of my career. It's getting nicer. People cater to you a bit more. Bonuses happen. I had a special chair ordered for my new office without even asking for it. This is what she had grown accustomed to.
This was not happening with my old job. She had been a nurse practitioner for a long time but not in mental health. Which makes my old job entry level for her. If one is entry level, one must be humble. She wasn't. One must be willing to suck it up because it was a government job. No perks. Because government. She wasn't.
Her entitlement and attitude put my teeth on edge. All within the first 5 min. The food was actually very good. The soup was layered and lovely. They had some fresh crusty bread, perfect for dipping.
She turned down the job the next day. I hold myself responsible for the quick no. I told her she wouldn't like it and wasn't a good fit. Honesty was the best policy I think. Plus, I was leaving so screw that, I'm not going to cater or wine and dine her. No one wants a practitioner that is bothered to even be there. Like I said, screw that!
2. Olive garden. Love the over cooked and heavily sauced pastas. The delish salad. The breadsticks disappoint though. Whattayagonna do eh?
I had my favorite nurse and my favorite doctor with me. The ones who had been my coworkers and friends for the last eight years. It was a private goodbye lunch and I was so sad. We were all sad. Then in the middle of it, my vision became blurry. Like someone was pouring liquid mecury in my visual fields. I could see maybe 50% above eye line. I knew this to be an ocular migraine. Painless but I couldn't see. I kept talking though. Kept laughing and soaking up the love. This was not going to stop the love fest that was my shrimp scampi lunch!
It was phenomenal that lunch. Top three in my life.
We are the Halls. We've been looking for you. We are a wacky bunch. I'm Miss Stephanie. I steer the crazy ideas and untold expansion of our tribe. When I was 19, I had an idea of wanting to be a foster mom. Back then I was really, REALLY not capable of such things. But I chugged along, met your father, we had your sister and two brothers. Somewhere along the line your mom had you and a few others too. I'm sad that your mom and dad can't be what you need. So we want to be that for you, a mom and a dad.
It's probably too early to talk about this. We haven't even met yet. All we have is a photo of you two. Our social worker called your social worker and we're waiting to hear back.
But these are details darlings.. details....
If this works out it will be epic. We are a fantastic family. We like doing stuff. Going places. Eating tacos on Tuesdays. Any days really. We have a dog. She's fantastic too. We've been taking in kids for four years before we came across you and you.
If it all works out I can promise you this, I am a very loving mom. I have a lot of strong opinions about so many things big and small and can't wait to hear yours! Do you like tomatoes? Are you a fan of sharp cheddar? Do you sing in the shower? Can you do a cartwheel? Would you like to learn? Can you run faster than me? I'd like to see ya try!
But promises... I promise we're not perfect. That much will be clear. I get overwhelmed and cry sometimes. I get to hung up on things. I don't cook very well but what I can cook, I cook a lot of. I sometimes forget small people are just learning, so I pile too much on their plate. Sometimes I let things slide and need to ad just the right amount more! I'm still learning how to be the best mom. I know you'll both be great teachers!
I can promise I love Mr. Hall. He is really a great daddy. He's strong and patient. He's funny too. He's the best husband in the world and will show you how to love and be loved little girl. And he'll show you how to be a good husband and dad little guy! Our kids know you're coming, even the little 4 year old. He doesn't know what that means. I'm not sure we do either!
We do know our hearts are open and waiting. We are ready for you. And just like with our other kids, you both are very VERY wanted.
Settling into the new job. Super fancy here in the private sector. They ordered me a chair, painted my office and sent my flowers. There is a whole marketing department. That is weird. It's all weird. The work is the same. I see patients for mental health reasons. I prescribe mental health medications. I do what we mental health nurse practitioners do.
Only it's bananas and super hard. At least it was. This organization is BIG. The patients are COMPLICATED. My coworkers are WICKED SMART. All of which forces my growth. Not growing is why (in part) I left my former job. I needed to grow. My brain isn't completely demolished from all the kids. It needs very science and caring things to do in the service of others. Which is what I do at my job.
For the first two weeks I felt very overwhelmed. Felt very exhausted and began to have nightmares. I took ambien for a week straight. I take ambien maybe once/twice a year. I started saying things out loud to Mr. Hall. My scary, sad, stressful emotional stuff. He laughed and hugged me. Because he's happy for me and my struggle.
This is the same Mr. Hall who happily cheered on my contractions during labor. All smiley and RAH RAH RAH!! That's right. He didn't comfort me during labor so much as cheered me on because it was happening and it's awesome. Because struggle is growth and happiness in the end.
So the nightmares and the constant rumination. I would never be without thoughts of what I said or did at my new office. At night I would dream I was there too. It was no good. It all broke loose when I went to church on Sunday.
I hadn't been to church in a long while. Holidays/lazy/what have you. But I woke up 5 minutes before the service and high tailed it there. During the singing I reached on up and asked God for help. It was then I had a revelation.
I had forgotten about that up there. God calls whom He calls because we are the ones to do what we are needed to do. I'm not here, at my fancy new job, because I'm the smartest and most capable. I'm here because He put me here. And it will come. The knowledge, the workings, the reasons I'm here will become apparent. All this rumination and second guessing it the evil one shooting me down, coloring my thoughts and he is wrong.
It was a great lift of ugly. Then there was this silence in my head. No more second guessing or reviewing everything I had said and done at work. No more feeling consumed by work thoughts. Just silence. It took some getting use to. It took a couple of nights but my sleep is 99% back to normal. My energy is returning. And all is well in the House of Hall.