Tag Archives: Foster Parents

The Big Year

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You know life is good when you’re blowing out the candles on your birthday cake and you have to struggle to come up with something to wish for. Especially when said cake is in celebration of your 39th birthday, an age that stereotypically speaking prompts bouts of anxiety or self-doubt.

But that was me recently. So full of things that I’m grateful for that it actually took a couple of seconds to form a wish. Considering that my last ten years of b-day wishes came true with DJ’s arrival, it’s hardly surprising that this year’s wish was for him to stay as happy & healthy as possible.

And the icing on the cake, DJ used my birthday card to announce that he was going to take our last name. Best. Birthday. Ever.

But the family celebrations didn’t end there. On April 30, the adoption was finalized! I was actually in the park supervising DJ’s “wrestling club” consisting of him and a couple of kids from the neighborhood when I saw the voicemail icon on my phone. Our lawyer was calling with the good news that the judge had ruled a few days previously and DJ was now officially adopted.

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In their typical awesome fashion, my family immediately leaped into action after hearing the news and threw an impromptu adoption party for Dom.

Even now, a little over a month since I got the call, tears are running down my cheeks as I type this. Not that I love DJ any more than I did before because that’s simply not possible, but there’s a sense of permanency and relief that just wasn’t there while we were waiting for finalization.

I no longer have to identify myself as the foster mom when I’m filling out forms for school or the doctor’s office. And as unrealistic as it was, there’s no longer that small fear in the back of my head that at any moment all of this could fall apart and we could lose DJ to another adoptive family.

This is real. This is forever.

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A Day at the Museum

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To be perfectly honest, it was closer to 1 hour & 29 minutes, but that’s still pretty good for the boy who has been telling me for weeks that he doesn’t want to go to the Carnegie Natural History Museum. I’ll admit though that I took him to Bruegger’s for bagels this morning to soften him up, and after several rounds of no’s he finally agreed to go. (For those of you who were really paying attention at the beginning, there were concerns about him being sensitive to gluten, but so far the only allergies that still seem to be significant are peanuts & pork.)

Although DJ vehemently hates getting his picture taken–so much for the photo album that I bought to keep pictures of all of our family firsts–I managed to get a few shots. His favorite exhibit, by far, was the minerals & gems, which was one of my favorites as a kid.

Polar World at the Carnegie Natural History Museum

DJ’s unwillingness to try things has definitely been one of our biggest challenges. And like so many things, it’s hard to discern when his reluctance is your run-of-the-mill 9-year-old behavior or something deeper or most likely a bit of both. I’m sure that I’m not the first mom to say this, but if I hear “Boring!” or “I don’t want to” one more time, I might lose my mind.

But as I keep reminding myself, I always knew that parenthood would be one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever attempted to do.

When you go through the adoption process for an older child, you are asked many times & in many different ways what kind of child are you willing to accept. I’m sure for every couple some questions are obvious, even idiotic. For us, accepting a child of any race was a no-brainer. We also knew that there was a strong likelihood that our adopted child would be born of parents who abused drugs and alcohol, possibly while pregnant.

And then there were the difficult and disturbing questions that remind prospective parents yet again how much these waiting children have already endured in their short lives. Are you willing to accept a child who has been physically or sexually abused? A child with a terminal illness? A child of rape/incest? A child who starts fires or smears feces or abuses animals?

After years of filling out these types of forms and attending classes for foster/adoptive parents, I feel like we had a fairly realistic picture of the types of issues and challenges that our adoptive child might be bringing to our family.

So while we’ve probably had more than our fair share of “bad days” and hours-long tantrums in the last two months, I’m choosing to focus on the incredible job that DJ has been doing as he adjusts to his new life with us. The times that he said “yes” to something new, like going to the museum today, or told us that he loves us “the mostest.”

And when I think that I can’t take him choosing to play video games over going for a walk on a beautiful summer day like I imagine all of the “good” moms & kids are doing, I’m going to remind myself that my boy is trying his best, and I love him exactly as he is right now.