“Holy hell, what have we gotten ourselves into?!”
Man, those Wednesday’s Child commercials made it all seem so simple -- you sign up, get matched with a child and voilà – instant family. But as class rolled along, it became evident just how little we really knew about fostering, about adoption, about social workers and the process of navigating the path to becoming a parent through foster-adopt. Sure, we were up for the challenges, the therapy and all of that "other stuff" that we had heard about, but never did we imagine the amount of work on ourselves and our relationship that would come into play before we even got to the whole “raising a child”-thing.
While we managed to absorb everything we possibly could, the one thing we longed for more than anything was some simple handholding. There are countless books and websites geared towards helping people prepare for “after the placement” - “how to be a better foster parent,” “how to talk to kids who have experienced abuse and neglect,” “how to support children separated from their families” - but there just aren’t many guides for gays and lesbians who are either thinking about foster-adopt as a way to build a family or who are currently navigating the process prior to placement.
The truth was, with no one really close to talk to about our feelings, apprehensions, worries and fears, we began to feel alone. It was as if no one in our circle could understand what we were experiencing, or what our hopes, goals and fears were - or why we were even having a child in the first place. And whaler friends and family were unbelievably supportive and intrigued, they just couldn’t grasp the often painfully raw information being hurled at us – and at junctures in this journey, we couldn’t either.
But we carried on, periodically reminding our friends and family that we would soon have to "disappear" for a little while. And this wasn’t us “having-a-baby" retreating — this was us “having-a-child-who-has-experienced-loss-and-that's-why-we're-keeping-their-world-as-small-as-possible for awhile" getting away.
Eric and I had become part of this world that only the two of us could understand and while we certainly didn’t go into this looking to make friends—you’re there to build a family—we felt disconnected from our classmates, all experiencing their own unique feelings of excitement, confusion, love and vulnerability.
Social workers only added to our sense of isolation by constantly reminding us that they’re not in the business of finding children for families: they’re there to find families for children. With a mountain of unknowns piling up before us, we started questioning if making this life-changing decision was even the right thing for us to do—and suddenly cuddling up with Travis the dog on Friday nights didn’t seem so bad after all.
To read Jason P's next article in the series on Foster-Adopt, click here.