Homestudy: Part III

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Sigh.

Groan.

Ugh.

That about sums up my last homestudy visit. It was a 1:1 with just me and our caseworker. I really do like our caseworker, but I very much dislike this homestudy process.

Going through the state, or at least through our state, is essentially an investigation to dig up dirt. The caseworkers are required to find every possible red, yellow, purple, pink, polka-dot flag they can, and talk about it. It’s very unlike private adoptions.

I actually brought this up with our caseworker at this last visit, and she agreed. Private adoption homestudies tend to be shorter, less interrogatory, and put a polish on the family’s life. By contrast, public adoption homestudies are extensive, intrusive, and there is nary a glimmer to be found once the caseworker has gutted the family’s life.

I’m trying not to over-exaggerate.

It makes it difficult, however, when a family with a private homestudy is “competing” for a child with a public homestudy. One showcases the family’s successes, accomplishments, everyone has pearly white teeth, etc. The other one highlights the family’s struggles, skeletal closets, and everyone has missing teeth.

It’s not fair.

I know, I know. God has the right child already picked out for us. No one can take our child. I know all of the platitudes. But it is still frustrating.

At the end of the homestudy visit, I asked our caseworker if she saw any red flags. She said “no,” but that there was an area about me that intrigued her the most and she wanted to learn more about it.

My need for control, she said. I’m assertive, she said. I’m the “squeaky wheel,” she said. And, I’m a permissive parent.

I gaffawed.

Not because any of that is necessarily untrue, but because they were presented as negative traits.

I’m a wife, mother of two, and full-time professional. Yes, I have a need for some control in my life. Wouldn’t you? Yes, I’m assertive. Yes, I can be a “squeaky wheel.” No one is going to care more about my best interests than me. No one is going to care about my children’s (or future child’s) best interest more than me. And, yes, I’ve been told I’m a permissive parent. (I’ve also been told in the same breath that I’m a natural “love and logic” parent). I’m the mom who will let her kids run in the mud puddle (and have), and will take them to preschool naked if they refuse to get dressed (and have). So, yes, I am each of these things, under the right circumstances.

So when our old caseworker didn’t return our calls or emails, after several polite nudgings, yes, I contacted her supervisor. These tactics apparently labeled me in the caseworker world as “assertive,” “controlling,” “squeaky wheel,” and “trying to steer the process.”

All the while, our child is out there, somewhere, waiting for his/her forever family, while I wait for paperwork to be filed, emails to get sent, phone calls to get returned, and people to label me as controlling and assertive and permissive.

So, I will wait, and I will take the heat.

Because there is a child out there waiting for us, who has already taken a lot of heat.

THE MISADVENTURES OF BEAR AND OTHER RANDOM TOYS

Grant has a small stuffed bear.  Bear has habit of going on misadventures and turning up in all kinds of random spots.  These search and rescue missions usually occur at bedtime while attempting to corral and calm two children.  Bear has been missing for up to four days before and often the search becomes personal as you know he’s mocking you from wherever he’s found to hide like inside a garbage truck, or golf cart.   Bear usually shows up in some place you’ve already checked three times and looks like he’s coming off an extended bender.  Most recently, he was in the bottom of a basket that I looked in several times.  I almost think he snuck in there between the last time I looked and when Jeremy found him.   You just can’t trust Bear.

What else has gone missing at the Wilson house?  Or maybe missing isn’t the right word…trapped in a tub drain is more like it.  Our tub is missing the installed pop up drain stopper so we use a rubber drain stopper.  Unfortunately, this means an open drain that is begging to drop something in it.  We had a two week period whereby several items went down the drain due to premature removal of the drain stop.  First, a small boat disappeared.  I didn’t see said boat go down the drain, but it wasn’t out of the tub and it wasn’t in the tub.  The only option was down the drain.  The water was draining normally, so I was optimistic that it made the trip out to the sewer.  Next, were four escaped tub crayons.  I could reach two with my hand and dug a third out with a hanger.  Number four was visible, but just out of reach.  The water was now draining a bit slower…I was still optimistic that it might dislodge and follow the boat out.  The third item that disappeared from the tub was Superman’s arm.  I was less sure of the arm’s whereabouts, but Jeremy seemed convinced it was swimming with the crayon and boat.  I finally gave in and called the plumber (who thankfully gives us a long-term loyal customer discount).  When he came up from the basement, he asked me if I counted cards in Vegas because what did he find?  A boat, a tub crayon, and Superman’s arm.  When Grant saw his boat he exclaimed “My boat!!  I’m so happy to see you!”  Our tub now has a temporary drain grate.

To My Daughter, on her 2nd Birthday

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Dear Sienna,

Whenever you read this, whether it’s ten years from now reading it for the first time, or seventy years from now, after I’m long gone, I want you to know these certain truths about you, and never forget them.

1. I love you. I love everything about you. From how your eyes turn into crescent moons when you smile big, to the frown on your brow when you don’t get your way. I love it all.

2. You will never lose my love. I know there will come a day when you slam the door in my face, when you curse my name, and maybe tell me you wish I wasn’t your mom. I’ve steeled myself for that day, and I want you to know now, before it even happens, that I will love you still.

3. You are wanted. Mommy and Daddy longed and ached for you, for years. God moved mountains to bring you into this world, to create you, and to bring you to us. So when that first boy breaks your heart, or you get that first grade you didn’t deserve, or you don’t get the job of your dreams, know that you will forever and always have parents who want you still.

4. Your brother loves you. You are his favorite play thing. You two were meant to be siblings. He adores you. He always asks about you. He gets the biggest smile whenever you are around. He wants to steal your toys just as often as he wants to share his food with you. He wants a reaction out of you – whatever it is. He delights in you. Just remember that the next time that he makes you angry.

5. You are beautiful. You are a gift. A treasure. You are a child of God, on loan to us.

Daughter, we will do our best to raise you in these truths. Please know that although we will mess up in raising you, we really are trying, and we really do want the very best for you.

You are my child. My firstborn daughter. My beloved.

Happy birthday, honey pie.

Love,

Mommy
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TEE BALL aka HERDING CATS

We recently started tee ball.  It’s been a long time coming.  I signed the kids up in March and didn’t realize how long that was for a three year old to wait.  Grant has been excitedly telling people about playing tee ball since I registered them.  We recently had orientation and their first practice.  Grant was all in and Maria declined to participate, which didn’t really surprise me.  Our coaches (volunteers, who are likely atoning for past sins) said not to be concerned if some kids decided they didn’t want to play or wanted one of their parents right next to them.  These are three year olds and often the exercise is more akin to herding cats than anything.

Our first game was June 1 and again Grant was all in.  Maria agreed to practice and did throw the ball to her coach and practiced batting, but when it came time for the game, she lost interest while the other team was at bat.  Grant stood in the infield ready for a ball to come at him, although he didn’t quite know what to do.  Maria, stood in the outfield with me by her side, but when it came time to bat and run the bases, she declined.  She was not thrilled with putting on the batting helmet and become more interested in the snacks to come after the game than the game itself. 

Jeremy decided to get them a batting helmet and a tee so we could practice at home and hopefully get Maria engaged and comfortable enough to participate.  In practicing at home, both kids have demonstrated their preference to bat opposite of their dominate handedness.  Maria, a lefty, is batting right and Grant, a righty is batting left.  We chalked it up them just doing their “twin thing.”  Maria has also grown comfortable with her batting helmet and demonstrated this while streaking naked throughout the house after baths one evening.  Time will tell if this comfort level will carry itself to the ball field while fully clothed.

The season only lasts five weeks, which at first seemed short, but once I realized that both teams have all kids bat twice, five weeks didn’t seem quite so short.  Honestly, I’m not a fan of baseball and won’t be sad if they decide they don’t want to play again next season!  Given Maria’s soccer ball dribbling skills, I think (hope) we’ll end up more involved with soccer down the road.  For now, we’ll enjoy the entertainment that is three year old tee ball. 

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THREE YEAR OLD PHOTO SHOOT

We recently had Grant and Maria’s three year old pictures taken.  These were the teasers sent to me from our wonderful photographer.  I might be biased, but I do believe these might be some of the best looking kids I’ve ever seen.  I especially love the ones of them together.  Personalities perfectly captured!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Homestudy: Part II

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We had our second homestudy visit last week. Apart from a few awkward moments, it went well. The caseworker interviewed Tygh separately, and “observed” our children. She later told Tygh that our children are “perfect.” (What parent doesn’t love hearing that?)

This time around is just very different than our other homestudy visits. Every word, gesture, glance seems scrutinized and, dare I say, judged?

I understand why. Unlike domestic adoption or embryo adoption where the birth/genetic family get to choose, here the State is choosing. And, also unlike domestic adoption or embryo adoption, there likely was not much willingness on the part of the birthfamily that caused the relinquishment/termination of parental rights. So, in a sense, the stakes are higher.

But, it is still really uncomfortable to have a 360-degree analysis of your family and your lifestyle.

Next up is my one-on-one visit with the caseworker, followed by one more “family observation” visit. Still hoping the report will be complete, and we’ll be officially a “waiting family” by August.

One very cute and heartwarming moment happened right when the caseworker arrived. Brae greeted her at the door with the following exchange:

Brae: “Hi. I’m Brae. B-r-a-e. I’m adopted. I’m special. When are you going to give us a baby?”

Caseworker: “Hi. Yes, you are special. It’s going to be a while.”

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