This is the 15th article in Jason P’s series about Foster-Adopt. To read the first in the series, click here.
Upon completion of the third-and-final home study interview, we found ourselves in a much different place than where we began this journey.
By now, the novelty of sharing the transition occurring in our lives had clearly lost its luster and yet the only people who could quite possibly relate – our former classmates – had now mostly faded into obscurity. We would hear bits and pieces about some who changed their minds or others who had forged ahead, but for the most part, these people with whom we had shared a deeply intimate experience were now complete strangers again.
We cruised through CPR/first aid training and passed our home safety inspection with flying colors - tot locks and all. Our home was deemed safe for a child - which meant one thing - only a few short steps remained between us and a child. We were then fingerprinted and underwent background checks. I was honest from the beginning that I was a bit mischievous back in college, so there was some additional paperwork that needed to be tracked down but within a few short weeks, we were licensed and certified.
And just like that, this deeply personal and extremely invasive process had finally come to a close (or beginning, depending on how you look at it). All that stood between us and a child now was time. Time spent waiting for the social worker to call. Time spent wondering what she would say. Time dreaming about the possibilities. Time wondering what we would ask. Time wondering what we should ask. But mostly, it was just time. Time waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Our future son’s room sat waiting too – waiting for a little boy to call it home. Eric and I would sit on the floor in his room at night and wonder and dream and talk. We’d dim the lights and listen to the silence, knowing full well that any day now our lives would change.
With tens of thousands of children in need of homes, why wasn’t our phone ringing? Was something wrong? Was it even plugged in (ps- you are required to have a landline)? Was our information entered into the system incorrectly? Was our dream child being placed with another family? The worry of the unknowns came rushing back into our lives and just as I was about to go into a full-fledged panic mode ...
Ring ... ring ...
Was this it? Was this the one? Was the moment finally here? Of course we had a neatly organized list of twenty questions that we carried with us everywhere - we had one in each of our bags, one in each of our cars and several at home. Nothing was going to get by us and our list would guarantee that.
Our excitement, our joy, our dream of being a one-call-and-done family came crashing down as soon as our social worker started relaying the story of this one young boy and all of the pain and heartache he had suffered. She didn't paint some rosy picture of a life filled with casual issues, she was to the point. She didn’t try to gloss things over as if that was even an option. Maybe her education and experience allowed her to remove herself from the emotion of it all but at that moment, for me, life was suddenly all too real. The story I heard was one of pain - a life like nothing I could ever imagine.
I also unexpectedly found myself feeling unknowingly selfish for having coped with my own loses by equating those tragedies with some kind of luck. "If losing my mom when I was 29 and my dad at 32 was the worst thing to happen in my life," I would tell myself, "then I should consider myself lucky." But suddenly equating "luck" with losing my parents felt trivial. I realized that if I was considering myself "lucky," that meant I was labeling others, these children, some of whom have experienced really awful situations, as having less luck - as if this had anything to do with it. Here I was, another person labeling these children, albeit to myself, when the truth of the matter was they were being let down and that was nothing to do with luck.
“So, what do you think?” the social worker asked, while I was still digesting the emotional impact of what I had just been told. I frantically searched through our list of 20 questions, stuttering, unable to find a question that didn’t seem trivial.
“This is life,” I thought to myself. “How can it be so cruel?”
To read the next post in Jason P's series about Foster-Adopt, click here.