We are a few weeks away from working toward our adoption for a year and there’s been another delay. I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about it, so I won’t, but I can say that this is starting to take an emotional toll.
When we were at the ninth month it felt kind of right; an expectant mother has that time to prepare for and fall in love with that little miracle. When we hit roadblocks or long waiting periods I would fall back on that concept and find my strength again. We’re unsure of how long this delay will last and it’s honestly worrisome that we won’t have enough time to go through all of the stages and get to placement by the time the new school year starts. We still need to go through private profiles, go through the BIS process (a conference call between the officials to decide if it’s a good enough fit to allow more in depth consideration), making the decision on who to meet, meeting them (and if we make a match the first time we don’t have to go back through the profiles, BIS, and deciding who to pursue this time), have at least four visitations with one being an overnight stay, and, if all works right, we get legal custodial rights and Kiddo is placed with us. After six months the case gets reviewed, make sure things are going well and we’re bonding, and then we get to adopt Kiddo. If this delay takes more than a couple more months I really can’t see how Kiddo will be ready to start school here next year. I hate the idea of having to change schools in the beginning of their year, especially if Kiddo is just starting high school. I had hoped we’d have placement by summer, so we’d have the time to work at really bonding and it’d be a little less stressful for Kiddo, since school itself will be a lot of stress, not to mention living in a new town, making new friends, etc.
I think one of the hardest parts of the waiting period is how much of our lives is in someone else’s hands. Realistically, if everything goes well, our entire future is in the hands of a social worker, a case worker, a foster parent (or parents), a judge, and Kiddo. We have the bizarre ability to pick our preference like a puppy in a litter, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to get to take the puppy home and raise them. We don’t just want to raise them until they’re 18; we want to be the forever family for Kiddo. And there isn’t anything we can do right now to help the process. If anything we were over prepared, over excited, and we can only do so much parenting and trauma research without knowing Kiddo’s actual needs, so we just wait for the email.
As a Spoonie I have so little control over my health and knowing when I’ll have a “good” day, so my natural “get it done” personality is stronger in the other aspects of my life. Kiddo’s room is done, I’m not really able to shop anymore for Kiddo until we know their needs, wants, and sizes, and there isn’t a whole lot to scrapbook for her about our journey when you’re sitting around waiting. It’s doggone hard to not have an ounce of control over any part of the most important path in my life. I’m blessed to have an incredible psychiatrist that not only helps with coping with becoming disabled, but helps me not get fully depressed. She even wrote a letter for DCF stating that I’m able to parent despite my illness, because I seek out help when needed, have a lot of coping techniques in my pocket so to speak, and it’s been almost 20 years since I went through my traumas, so Kiddo’s traumas won’t trigger me. We can’t really work on my concern about Kiddo not bonding with me, since that’s a “what if” scenario, and really it’s just me doing my usual “risk analysis” instead of it being a true worry. When I became a HIPAA Officer and had to learn to do risk analysis, I would never have guessed that the mindset would stick with me for the rest of my life. *laugh* Anyway, I’m trying to learn to take one day at a time and focus on what I can control, like coloring in my smart aleck affirmations coloring book. *grin*
We also realized that underneath some of that concern about Kiddo not wanting me is the worry of being rejected once they see the real me. Ask pretty much any Spoonie and they will admit that they try to always have a mask of “I’m okay” on and that very few people ever see what life is truly like for them. We hide our bad days because we don’t want to be a burden and we know that people don’t usually want to hear that things are still kind of cruddy. They usually just ask out of polite conversation etiquette instead of wanting to see behind the mask. We hide the days we need a walker to make it from bed to the bathroom, the days and nights that seemingly go on forever because we can’t sleep or get quality rest, the cushions, heating pads, and meds that help us have some quality of life. When Kiddo has stayed here for a bit and the honeymoon period has worn off my body will override my emotions again, and I’ll be back to my normal, so Kiddo will be one of the few to see the real me. It probably doesn’t make any sense to healthy “normal” people, but it’s a scary thing for us usually. We tried for so long to be successful in life, then we were told for even longer that we were okay and it was all in our heads when the symptoms made life so difficult, and then we have to endure having a diagnosis that a whole lot of people think is made up because they can’t see it. If we had our legs amputated or had lesions where our trigger points are, then there’d be a lot more compassion and empathy. So we develop our mask as a coping mechanism to protect us from rejection. And it becomes really scary to think about someone seeing the real version and rejecting you.
In the first six months we had so much to look forward to, so much to work toward, and it seemed like we’d fly through the adoption stages because we were so prepared, so there wasn’t time for fear. The waiting period is almost completely spent in the dark corners of my mind. Once I realized this and she helped me acknowledge that it’s something that I can’t change, so I need to let go of the concern, my mind went to how many more delays will there be? Can we emotionally handle another six months or year of waiting just to get to the next stage? The imaginary time line is gone and every extra day tears at the heart. It’s hard to focus on the hope and joy of the future when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore, and it is even harder as a Spoonie.
So we’re going to quit looking at the featured kids and picturing the one we think would be a good fit in our lives actually in our lives (now that complicated sentence is almost as complicated as our feelings! LOL). We’re going to quit hoping that the one profile we really liked will still be available by the time we get the chance to inquire about her. We’re just going to wait. Our hearts break over how many children are in the system and how scary the statistics are for them if they age out, but we’ll try to focus on patiently waiting for the one ripple we’ll someday make in that sea of need. We need to find a way back to the joy and hope we had as we painted her room, put in the bed and imagined having our own daughter sleeping in it, and those moments when we felt our hearts would burst from the love for her – the love for our own future daughter. And we will have a laugh the next time someone says we’re jumping in the deep end by adopting a teenager. Raising a teenager is hard, but we’re all ready going through hell just to get the chance to raise one.
Since the long waiting period has been so difficult to endure, and has tested us to remain patient, hopefully God will help us make the right choice the first time and we will minimize the extra trauma by getting her settled before the school year. Then we can worry about rejection, the risks and stress of teen life, how to help her with her traumas, and which store will have a prom dress she might like. 🙂