Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Will we adopt her?

The short answer is Yes.

The long answer is Yes, but I feel a little guilty about it. Here's the thing, Brooklyn has been with us for 18 months so far. When she came to our house she was mostly emotionally non-expressive, couldn't walk, didn't crawl, and wouldn't (or couldn't) talk.

Now she is a happy (if temperamental), healthy, walking, running, skipping, trying to jump, almost 3 year old, part of our family. She has made so much progress in the last year and a half and she in incredibly bonded to our daughters. It's been our honor to watch her transform.

So, we simply can't imagine NOT adopting her. I also can't imagine the consequences of moving her to another home at this point. As much as neglect was involved in her state when she came to us, I know that part of it was the abrupt transition, too. She must have been scared sick, and it took her A LONG TIME to come out from wherever she was before. So even if we could wrap her heads around her not being with us, I don't have any mental space to contemplate what her being somewhere else would look like.

That said, we certainly weren't planning to adopt again, especially someone who is four months younger than our youngest. I worry about the impact this will have on our family in the long term. I know it means that Lily and Lucy will not have some of what they might have if we stuck to just two. Attention for one, cars for another :) But they love Brooklyn, and she loves them.

I feel guilty because I'm not over the moon excited about adopting her. I can't help but think about what we felt when we knew Lily would finally (FINALLY) be available for adoption. I worry about whether those feeling show through. I know that I don't consciously treat my children differently, but I worry that a part of her gets it.

And then a couple of weeks ago, PB and I sat on a preservice panel - the last meeting of training for new foster parents. Brooklyn was with us, and sitting behind the table where we were. I saw a few couples in the room looking at her and smiling, and I knew. They were us. The us of four years ago. Any one of those couples would feel about adopting Brooklyn like we felt about adopting Lily. What right did I have to stand in the way of that?

I've been poking at these feelings for quite some time now, and I think part of it, too, has to do with the fact that quite simply, she hasn't been *mine* for as long. The reality is that I brought home Lily as a tiny, tiny, baby and she was mine LONG before she was officially mine. That's why I was so sick at the thought of her leaving. She has (almost) always been MY child. Admitting that is tough, because it means that I didn't really want her to reunify, as much as I wanted to want her to reunify.

But I think I feel more like a foster mom to Brooklyn. She was, quite simply, someone else's child. She saw her mom a lot. Her mom was working very hard to get her back, and I was doing what a good foster mom would do - I loved her, and I did whatever I could to facilitate a bond between Brooklyn and her mom. I fed her, and bathed her, and played with her, and loved her. But the reality is that I loved her like I loved someone else's child. Not just any child... more like I love my nephew - I'd be really, really, really sad if he was gone, for instance, but my life wouldn't crumble.

I don't know if that makes sense. But in the last few weeks I've done a lot of thinking and lot of rehashing with PB. Understanding the Brooklyn is ours, and loving her like she's ours will be part of the process of adopting her. Those other couple at the panel aren't us. They haven't loved Brooklyn for 18 months. She's just part of our family, and so, of course, she will stay.

Friday, March 25, 2011

In case any of you don't follow fosterhood

Go show Rebecca some love. Her FD, Jacket, is about to go home permanently with basically no transition.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For those who are still interested....

First of all, happy birthday to my sweet Lucy. Breakfast cake was enjoyed with Gusto at Chez Psychic.

Brooklyn is obviously still with us. After making lots of progress, including getting a job, and a place to live, and completing nearly all elements of the caseplan and proceeding to unsupervised visits, her mom... disappeared. This is not the first time this has happened, but I suspect it will be the last. Brooklyn's next hearing is scheduled for June, and from what c/w is telling me based on information (which I do not know) from the probation officer, Brooklyn's mom would have to start all over on the caseplan.

I am thinking this must mean she is in really bad shape. Since they have already filed a first extension, it's unlikely that one more extension (which is all that is allowable by Federal law) would be enough time, even if she resurfaced right away. Which she didn't.

So we're left having dinner conversations about how sometimes adults use medicine that they shouldn't, and when that happens they can't make good choices for their babies, so it's not safe for babies to live there. And saying "I don't know" when asked when we might see Mama M. again. And watching an almost-three-year old look disappointed and confused.

Which is really nothing compared to what this is like for Brooklyn's older brother who "stays with" Mom's cousin. He was (until about 6 weeks ago) visiting regularly with his Mom, spending weekends with her. He is old enough to really and truly understand what's going on, and I can't imagine what this is like for him.

I am angry. But I also feel badly for Mama M. I know that this addiction is something she has fought so hard against and I do know that deep down she loves Brooklyn. That said I can't fathom an instance in which I would let anything stand between me and my children - not drugs, or a caseplan, or a boyfriend. Nothing.

That ambivalence is rough. Not nearly as rough as what Brooklyn and her brother do (and will) have to deal with. I've got the easy road here.