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remain neutral and ignore what you can

Maturing is realizing how many things don’t require your comment. ~ Rachel Wolchin

I’d love to tell you who Rachel Wolchin is.. but the most I know is that she said this quote at some point and I think it perfectly fits with my here and now.  Let’s just say I am maturing… daily…

The last few months have proven to me that this adoption is by far the hardest thing that I have ever chosen to do.  I’ve said this to a number of people and I’ve gotten many different responses or questions in return.  And, in mulling over these comments and questions from friends and my everyday learning and growth… I’ve decided it was time for an update… so here it is!

We have indeed come a long way since November.  We now find ourselves at the  dreaded 6-month mark.  For any of you that have any experience with adoption… you will know that the 6 month mark is a milestone that “they” warn you about when you are being trained as foster/adoptive parents.  It seems that this is about the time that adoptees start getting comfortable enough to really test your fortitude.  It’s the “let’s see just how serious you are about letting me stay” phase.  And we have, indeed, experienced some of that – but truthfully, Micheal has been testing us all along.  And really – you can’t blame him.  And, this will likely continue for awhile.  So what’s the key to survival?

remain neutral and ignore what you can

Because as soon as you engage – it all blows up and nobody wins.

The good news, however, is that while we have definitely had some highs and some lows… I do believe that the highs that we’ve had are more meaningful than the lows.  As I’ve mentioned in the past… dishonesty is quite possibly the biggest hurdle that I personally have in growing this relationship.  It’s gotten to the point that I almost don’t believe anything that he says… and that is exhausting, at best.  So, last week we discussed this at our counseling session.  I explained that I just don’t get why he continues to lie when he’s getting into trouble for lying… not really what he’s lying about.  And, we give him multiple chances to own up.  It is mind boggling! AHHHHHHHHHH!

But wait… time for a new perspective… this is how it was explained to me… Think about times in your life when you’ve decided to make some big change – like an exercise routine or a diet.  So, you decide that you are going to start walking a mile every morning to get in shape for summer.  And, on day one… you get up early, you strap on your tennies, grab your headphones and out the door you go!  And when you get back – you feel great – what a huge success!  Tomorrow… here you come!  And tomorrow does come… but on this morning it’s a little chilly outside and that bed is feeling super warm and super soft… and, tomorrow is supposed to be much nicer… so it’s probably a better idea to just wait.  So you do.  And you wait the next day… and the next.  And the whole time you KNOW that if you got out there and walked… it would be SO good and you would feel SO good!  Well, when you have spent your whole life lying for survival… lying is your warm, soft bed.

Much more understandable, huh?

So, only time will make this better.  However, Micheal did get honest about a couple of things that probably weren’t so easy to be honest about.  And he did it on the first try.  And that is success!  As a friend of mine pointed out… every moment should be an opportunity for success – so, we will take it wherever and whenever we can get it!

The other complicating factor is that it really is hard to tell what things are stemming from a traumatic past and what things are just 9 1/2 year old boy.  Our boys didn’t get to 9 1/2 so this is new territory for everyone.  I must say that I wholeheartedly rely on family and friends for this one.  It really is a feel good to hear things like… “HA!  you don’t really expect him to use the laundry hamper, do you?” or “my 15 year old still can’t remember to flush the toilet.”  I will add, however,  that on the latter front… I do believe that we’ve made progress… thankfully!

Another high is that in just the 6 months that Micheal has been here, he has advanced one full year in reading level.  He came here as a fourth grader reading at an end of 1st grade level.  He came here with an IEP that didn’t even mention a reading deficit.  He got an updated IEP, he gets extra help with reading every day at school, Bob reads with him every night and he now reads at end of 2nd grade.  It is an impressive achievement and we are very proud of his efforts.

So, as for the rest of us… we are adjusting.  There are calm days and there are stressful days… but, I think that’s pretty much the story for everyone.  Next week we will be going to Faith’s Lodge in Wisconsin to spend a long weekend with our friends.  It will be the first time that Micheal has been on an airplane and he’s a bit nervous that he might be sick.  He bases this belief on the memory that he rode in a helicopter and he felt very sick afterwards.  As you might imagine… we were very surprised that he would have ever had an opportunity to ride in a helicopter… so, we asked him about it.

And he was right… he did ride in one… right in front of the Walmart!

helicopter

perspectives

Winners have the ability to step back from the canvas of their lives like an artist gaining perspective. They make their lives a work of art – an individual masterpiece. ~ Denis Waitley

Apologies for the re-posting… I’m having some difficulties with formatting.

I must start by saying that I sat down and wrote much of this entry 3 weeks ago… and just before I was about to launch it, I had lunch with two of my close friends and I left that lunch with a brand new perspective – and I knew that I needed to make some changes and look at things a bit differently.  I like the quote above because it talks about the canvas of our lives… whatever that canvas might be.  Bob, Rachel and I certainly have a very altered perspective because of our canvas – but still… that is only our perspective… it is not any better or any worse than that of anyone else… just different.  And I do believe that we are being forced to step back from our own experiences to understand this new person in our lives.

 

So, we have passed the 7-week mark… and my grade so far – as it was 3 weeks ago… a  B  This morning perhaps a D-… but as an average… a B.  And I will say it’s been the hardest B I’ve ever personally achieved.

 

Micheal has gotten off to a good start – not perfect – but good.  I try to keep in mind what it must be like for a 9-year-old kid to be dropped into a new world, with a new family, new school, having to make new friends, in a new part of the country… away from everything you have ever known.  Along with the fact that all he’s ever known is impermanence – so who’s to say that this is not just a temporary stop.  And… frankly, it is impossible to put yourself in those shoes if you’ve never been there.  And believe me… I know all about different kinds of shoes!  Certainly… a very different canvas.

 

At the same time… Bob and I decided that baptism by fire is the healthiest option here.  As soon as he arrived, Micheal was expected to toe the line.  Because, the last thing that we want is for him to look back and say “oh, I never knew that you expected that!”  And this has not been easy.

 

I would say that the biggest frustration for me (and likely the hardest transition for Micheal) has been the school piece – so, once again, THANK YOU FAIRFAX COUNTY for making that just a little more difficult than it might have been.  Clearly, Micheal is behind just by virtue of the difference in school systems – but not being here for the start of the school year was really not helpful.  He is also behind because he has come from a world where there wasn’t great emphasis put on education at an early age.  It goes without saying that he never had a bedtime routine that involved reading Goodnight Moon or Runaway Bunny when he was a toddler and I’m pretty sure that it is safe to say, that until arriving in Virginia, reading at night has likely never been a reality at all.  And… for all your parents out there who are  growing wearing of reading the same words over and over again… let me tell you… it makes a difference.  Because today… through no fault of a physical learning disability… Micheal is two grades behind in reading and the experts believe that it is all a result of lack of practice.  So… stick with it!  Shockingly, when Micheal came to Virginia, he came with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) which is set up to break out a student’s problem, a suggested solution and a goal – and unbelievably his IEP had no mention of reading.  So he was in a school system… unable to read at grade level and was not getting any specific help for it.

 

So, as you might imagine, being that far behind in reading makes all schoolwork just that more difficult and exhausting because, at the very least, in 4th grade you have to read directions.  But… no time like the present to get back up to speed… right?   Well, Micheal doesn’t really like that whole plan and his method of dealing with that is to mislead and/or manipulate the situation.  And sadly for him… he does this about as well as any 9-year-old – so he’s not really an accomplished fibber.  Not to mention that fact that his teacher sends emails every afternoon (to all parents) which summarize the homework assignment.  And all of this put together means one thing… I bust him every time.  And that… doesn’t work out so well for him.

 

And to be honest… it doesn’t work out so well for me either because it is incredibly frustrating.

 

However… enter my two friends who each have a child with a learning challenge and here’s what I learned.  The very fact that Micheal is so far behind is likely a huge piece in the frustration and anxiety with homework – resulting in a very bad attitude.  I was standing in my world, looking at him and thinking… just sit down and do it.  If you need help, I’ll help you, but I’m not going to sit here and hold your hand the whole way.  He, meanwhile, was likely sitting and looking at these papers filled with words, letters and numbers and feeling like the world was crashing down on his head… a very different perspective.  My friends told me something that day at lunch that I am now trying to keep at the front of my thoughts… just like you cannot spoil a newborn baby… you cannot spoil a child with a learning disability – even if it was environmentally driven.  So, we do sit down and help… we don’t do the work for him but perhaps provide a little hand holding.  Bob has been at the forefront of this but I’ve also found that even if I just sit at the table and work on something else – he gets more accomplished.  Bob is also the nighttime reading parent – something that he has always taken the lead on with each of our children… and this is invaluable.

 

Now… that being said… I do want to say that Micheal has spent a very long time crafting many ways of getting out of doing homework – regardless of why he didn’t want to do it.  And, this is a habit that we are determined to put an end to.   But, we are trying very hard to determine what is manipulation and what is frustration.  We are working with the school to implement some new procedures to help put him in a position where he experiences success and has the confidence to sit down and get his work done.  Some of these ideas stemmed once again from my learning lunch with my friends.  For example, we now get his reading packet on Friday instead of Monday and this is HUGE.  He now goes into the week ahead on the reading lessons, instead of behind.  We are still working on getting every problem on math worksheets accomplished but, if needed, we can always speak with the teacher about doing reduced pencil to paper work.  So, for example, if the kids have 40 multiplication problems… perhaps he proves he can do it with 20.  And on the math front… we’ve found that  just looking at one problem at a time is helpful… far less overwhelming.  And, as part of his new IEP, he gets reading help daily along with some speech and some counseling on a weekly basis.

 

On top of all of this, we are re-evaluating his meds.  As of Friday we have stopped one medication which was a mood stabilizer.  He was on two of this type of medication.  I mentioned above that this morning was not the best… and honestly, this could be  that we’re seeing a little bit of what was covered by this medication.  It started with the dreaded homework issue… but ultimately it was his reaction to me personally and that was one of complete disrespect.  However, while I will not put up with a 9-year-old giving attitude… this is not something that I believe either Bob or I want to automatically throw medication at.  We will have to see if he is able to learn to work through this without drugs.  And it is very likely that he never had to do this before.  One of his foster families had him up to 8 medications and while I cannot judge that which I do not know… I am hopeful that we can keep him on the straight and narrow.  I also believe that he comes from a world where men and women are treated differently – which, for those of your who know Rachel and me, should give you a bit of a chuckle… not really the “little women obeying the big strong man in charge” that he might have been envisioning.

 

And so… we venture on… still confident that we made the right decision.  Because, he is ultimately a good kid with real emotions and, if nothing else, he is just so needing to know that he is loved.  So, we believe that all these other things can be turned around.  It would, however, be nice if we could speed that process up.  Rachel has been amazing really.  She does occasionally become a little overbearing… perhaps bossy – all with the right intention – but we are working on that.  It is a role that she should not fill – I can handle that all on my own.  It is difficult (for all of us) to really put our heads around the concept that you can be handing someone the world and they might not thank you for it right away.  It is something that Bob and I knew going into this – but it is still hard to understand.  So… one step at a time.

 

Delilah and TobyAnd finally… Toby.  Toby continues to be skittish… however, he is now venturing on to the deck and coming over for a brief petting… but all the while ready to run away to his hidden lair under the deck.  He and Delilah, however, get along great.  He is still working out his relationship with our neighbor’s dog Brody who is Delilah’s best friend.  Delilah is Robin to Brody’s Batman.  But, I think they are working it out.  It is pretty amusing to watch as Delilah plays middle dog – keeping both of them in check when their egos start causing problems.  We have gotten Toby into the house on a few occasions… the photo below is one of those.  You would never guess that Toby (on the floor) was laying there physically quivering.  It would be interesting to know what his canvas looks like…

change of seasons

When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm. Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring. ~ Madeleine M. Kunin

[written this morning at 7:30… posted this evening:)]

Well I am on a train to NYC for a 2-week trial which starts on Monday 9/21. Leaving home was hard – particularly on Rachel, who, as you might imagine doesn’t hold the best connections with me going away after my long trips with the boys to Minnesota, the incredibly difficult goodbyes at the ends of her visits and, of course, the ultimate outcome of those trips. Many tears this morning… but hopefully this time will go by quickly and we’ll be talking a lot and… well, that’s about all I can do. Sadly I will be missing her birthday during this trip – which makes it extra hard. I am sure that Bob will make it a very special day!

But, I thought I would take this time to put together a short update and share our latest news… received just this past Tuesday… and that is that everything is approved and Micheal is coming to join our family!

So, boy and dog will be on their way and arriving on the 28th of this month. WOW!

Now, for those of you with calendars nearby, you might note that the 28th does not allow for the actual completion of this trial… which means that I will not actually be home when he arrives… thank you Fairfax County!

Of course, we could have delayed his arrival. However, the first weekend of October is the weekend that we go out to the Halloween weekend at Jellystone Park in Luray to with a bunch of families and we really thought this would be a good experience for him. There will be lots of kids of all ages and it will give Rachel and Micheal time to be together and time to be apart.

So, we are now dealing with getting him enrolled in school… somewhat remotely; figuring out logistics on adding a new 4-legged critter… somewhat remotely; and making sure that this transition is as smooth as possible for Rachel… somewhat remotely.

And for all of you within arm’s reach – we may be calling on you – again!

More to come as the adventure unfolds!

a speck of light

I will continue to treat people with kindness even when they try to trample over me emotionally.  I will be triumphant in the end. ~ Alex Elle

This has been a long and frustrating summer on the adoption front.  I have tried and tried to get my head around updating this blog… but given up each time.  However, it is possible that there is the teeniest, tiniest flicker of light at the end of this very, very long dark tunnel.  The unfortunate part is that we do not know if that is daylight or the train – because, of course, we are not privy to that information.

OK… I’ll back up and fill you in…

First off, it is important that you understand that when you are adopting a child from another state… it is a little more effort for the agencies involved than a local adoption.  Basically there’s more paperwork because the two local agencies make recommendations and those recommendations go to the interstate agencies and then they decide if it’s a go.  This required extra effort, sadly, is why we have so many children looking for homes across this country.  When we started looking domestically, we probably put in inquiries for about 15 different kids.  We were asked to send our home study (which would provide information as to where we live) for almost all of them – meaning that they were still actively looking for homes.  We were contacted by one.  It’s a good one… and, we believe, the right one… but still, that’s pretty sad.

Anyway, back in April, this case was referred to Fairfax County and unfortunately someone… somewhere along the way… check a box that required Fairfax to rewrite our home study vs. amending it.  But, no big deal… right?  I mean, our existing home study was just done last October and that agency offered to send it to us as a Word document.  Easy Peasy!  Not so much!  That would have made way too much sense.  Now, I understand that reports need to be re-run… like CPS reports and FBI reports, etc.  But let’s face it – where we grew up, where we went to school, the friends we had, the jobs we had, the places we have lived, our favorite cartoons… yada yada yada – that is NEVER going to change.  Why re-write this?  I’ll never know!  This is just the fine work of our county government… so glad our tax dollars are hard at work.

So the case was referred to Fairfax as “fast-track.”  And since it is now August… I guess we should have asked early on what “fast-track” actually meant to them.  What it meant to us was… get the paperwork redone quickly (which is akin to the amount of paperwork required to buy a house), setup a home visit and drop everything and commit to attending a 3-hour class each Thursday for the following 6 weeks in addition to 2 – full day Saturday sessions.  The latter piece… not particularly easy with a daughter who has field hockey 30 minutes away every Thursday, had a full-day field hockey tournament on one of the Saturdays in question and, on the other Saturday, had her one and only All-State Chorus recital.  And, just in case you were wondering, both Bob and I had to attend the class and we had to attend ALL sessions.  But somehow… we worked it all out… because it was just that important.  And when we finished that class we thought… “this is it!”  But then… we really hadn’t gotten to know Palinda (our case worker – and I use the term “worker” very loosely) very well by this point.

And so, the class ended just before Memorial Day weekend and we were ready for an update.  I was making summer arrangements for Michael once he was moved up here.  We were getting the room ready… etc, etc, etc.  But there was no update… because during that 6 weeks that we were attending the class – she literally did nothing.  We should have had 2 more home visits during that time… not even on the calendar.  There were reports that were missing – no notice, not a word.  So we thought… ok, well let’s just get it moving now – should be quick, we already have a valid home study – all you need to do, Palinda, is copy it and update it with Micheal’s information.  But no… that’s really not how Palinda operates.  And again… I really do struggle associating any action word with Palinda because her efforts have been pathetic at best… and I am being kind.  Honestly, it’s been almost as if she has some other agenda on this case – always looking for a problem, like she didn’t want it to be approved.  This might seem far fetched… but remember, Micheal is not a Fairfax County kid and we are now a viable Fairfax County foster/adoptive family.  Why use this resource for some other state’s problem?  Sounds pretty bad… but this is the reality of the system.

And this effort of pulling teeth to get anything done went on… all summer.  We once believed that Micheal would be moving here as soon as school let out in the spring… then we were certain that he would at least be here when we went on vacation… we are now just hoping that he might make it here before school starts in two weeks.  The folks in North Carolina were worried that we had changed our minds.  And we can thank Palinda and Fairfax County for this “fast track” process –  100%!  Emails went consistently unanswered, home visits rescheduled, things that should have taken 10 minutes took a week and 10 minutes.  And sadly… in the middle of all of this is a 9-year-old kid!

OK – deep breath!

Anyway, it appears that by the end of this week we will have a recommendation package that will be ready to send to the Virginia interstate folks and after their review, it will go to the North Carolina interstate folks and then, I believe, a decision will be made.  What will the recommendation be?  Well… remember the potential train I mentioned above?  We don’t know what the recommendation will be – because Palinda cannot or will not give us that information.  I mean really… why do we need to know?  Right?

And… that’s where we are.

On the positive side, we had Micheal here over his birthday in May and again for 10 days in July.  As it turned out… he wasn’t really supposed to be allowed to make any of these visits – but the rules were not clearly written.  As you might imagine, I couldn’t be happier that we were rule-breakers on this front.  We had an opportunity to get to know him and to confirm for us that we were making the right decision.  The interstate folks should really focus their efforts on developing some rules dealing with deadlines as far as I’m concerned.

Our visits with Micheal were good.  Are there things that need to be adjusted?  Absolutely!  But they are kid things… not broken kid things.  He has proven to be a kid who can persevere and I think that he has a bright future ahead of him.  And, we are hoping to be part of that future.  Will we be?

Only Palinda knows…

the other shoe

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”  ~ Madeleine L’Engle

This past week was a big one for us.  It was the week that we were waiting for.  Finally, Micheal came to visit.

And it was a good week… a good visit… and a real eye-opener… but about things I never expected.

Micheal arrived on Tuesday afternoon.  He was driven up by a social worker, Gary, who was so kind to take the time to bring him AND a delightful person to boot.  Micheal was very excited to be here and Rachel  greeted him with a treasure hunt for some Easter treasures that we had put together.  The hunt took him all around the house and yard and was a great way for him to get to know his surroundings.  Tuesday evening we had dinner on the porch with Gary and Michael and after dinner Gary left and we were on our own… yikes… but no problems.

On Wednesday we went downtown to the Museum of Natural History (as requested by Micheal) and took a walk to see the White House.  DC was crowded.  We had a really hard time parking.  The museum was full.  But guess what?  No real problems. Michael was  respectful and a good listener.

Wednesday afternoon we rested up, had dinner on the grill and then watched the first half of Batman.  When it was time for bed, we stopped the movie early… and still, no problems.

Thursday was Micheal’s last day with us.  And I have to say that I was exhausted.  But, I really wasn’t sure why.  I guessed that it was just our travels downtown the day before and, perhaps, the nervousness that these few days brought with them.  Micheal had breakfast… finished watching the movie from the night before… got dressed… packed his bag.  Wait!!  He packed his own bag?? I just stood in that room, staring at that bag.  And it was at this point that everything made sense.  I knew exactly why I was exhausted.  I contemplated our adventures over the last two days and realized that I was constantly waiting… waiting for disaster.  Why?  It all boils down to one name… Maria.  For those of you who don’t know this story, Maria was a child that we hosted from Ukraine.  For all the details, you will have to read earlier posts.

And I also knew that I had to repack that bag.  Because you see, when Maria packed her bag to leave, it was full of things that didn’t belong to her.  Things that had no meaning to her but were very meaningful to us.  For example, she packed a ziplock that held clippings from Jacob’s hair.  Clippings that I took in the hospital and something that she dug out from a special box that was on the top shelf of a closet when no one was looking.  She could have shoved any toy in that bag and I really wouldn’t have cared… but she looked for and found things… little things… that were irreplaceable and would have broken my heart to have lost.  And this was only one example of our Maria experience.

And so… I repacked Micheal’s bag.  And you know what?  It was just all his stuff.  Not a slip of paper that he didn’t come with.  And while I admit that I felt guilty – it was a step that I needed to take.  And, now his stuff was folded – an improvement… right?🙂

And, I will tell you that Rachel had some ups and downs while he was here.  She was a little bit hot and cold.  So, on Thursday afternoon, she and I talked about it.  And as it turned out, she was experiencing the very same thing.  She felt compelled to watch every move he made and it wiped her out.  She just dealt with it as a 12-year old which meant that she could just decide she was annoyed at any moment… and act upon that feeling.  Suffice it to say that it is exhausting and frustrating and annoying to constantly have to monitor another human being to be sure they are not doing something destructive.

So… good news!  We found that other shoe.  And it had not dropped.

And in the end… we all agreed that it was a successful visit and a good visit and we are all certain that now that we are aware that we don’t have to be on-guard at every moment, the next visit might even be just a really fun visit.

Micheal of course had no idea that any of this was going on in the background and I do believe that regardless of our underlying “issues” – this boy had fun…

IMG_1771 IMG_1772 IMG_1773

He has found a home that he would really like to be part of and before he got into the car to leave, he turned around and said “Please tell Rachel that I will miss her.”

And that is sweetness, I think.

L

karma and the unexpected

But life inevitably throws us curve balls, unexpected circumstances that remind us to expect the unexpected. I’ve come to understand these curve balls are the beautiful unfolding of both karma and current. ~ Carre Otis

After two years of of hurry up and waiting… and then waiting some more… the past two weeks have been amazing.  This thing is really happening… like… for real!  Here he is again…

michael2

Following my last entry, I waited about a week and then worked up the nerve to call Karen, Michael’s foster mom.  We were all so anxious to know what had happened after his meeting with Ginny… after she planted those seeds.  So, while Gramma and I were waiting at Rachel’s field hockey practice (Gramma and Grandad were visiting), I decided to call.  The conversation went kinda like this…

Karen:  Hello?
Me:  Hi Karen, this is Leslie Osman.  I just wanted to give you a call because I was wondering how Michael made out this week after his meeting with Ginny.  Has he said anything?
Karen:  Well… actually… he’s been talking about it everyday.  And… basically… he says he’s ready to go! (hence the excitement above)
Me:  [big smile, nervous laugh, not sure how this would feel to  them]
Karen:  He told me… well, you know I’ll miss you and everything, but…
Me:  [more nervous laughing]
Karen:  But, you have to understand that we’ve been very honest with the kids that have come to stay with us that we are not adoptive parents.  We are here as long as they need us… but we are not in it for adoption.

and there you have it – he’s ready, we think we’re ready, and this thing is really happening.

[and just to insert a little honesty check… I am indeed excited… but I am also really scared.  BUT – each time I get scared I check myself back in and ask why we are doing this… and the answer is… because we can. And, if we can… shouldn’t we? Isn’t that good karma or somethin’ or other?]

And before I hung up the phone that night, I got to talk to Michael.  It was a short conversation with a promise that I would call again when Bob and Rachel were with me.

Since that phone conversation, Michael had another session with Ginny and we had another phone call with Michael.  Ginny called to give me a recap of their session and told me that not only is he very excited, his teachers have reported improvements in class.  Amazing how far reaching hope can be.

Michael also wrote us this letter responding to some of the questions that we had asked.

Letter from michael

 All I can say is… thank goodness he likes pizza!!

So, perhaps you are asking… “Leslie, what curve balls could you possible be speaking of?”

Because, of course, I carefully pick my quotes… and I do love quotes.

Well, this boy… comes with a dog.

meet Toby…

toby

and this is a curve ball that we will not turn down… because how can you???

Clearly, our adventures continue.

stay tuned

leslie

spring planting

Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God. ~ Pope Francis

“Land full of thorns and weeds” – whatever could he mean??  HA!  I know this is a concept that we have all experienced in different ways.  However, this week… a good seed was planted – and that seed was the idea of adoption.

Now truthfully, I didn’t really think about this until we made the decision to move forward with Michael.  You see, with the Ukraine adoption… the kids are in an orphanage.  They know what adoption is… they know what a U.S. adoption might mean for them.  And they want it!

However, with a foster situation, particularly with an 8-year-old kiddo who started with family foster at 6-months and has been in state foster care since they were just 5 – the idea that the family you are living with today can be your forever family, if you play your cards right, would be a logical one.  Foster parents and social workers know that this isn’t the case… but that’s not really the message that you want to send to a little boy who has been through things that most of us would shudder to imagine.  You want him to feel loved and secure – the same things that an adoptive, forever-family would give him.  And there you have the big… giant… gray area.

and so…

Just this past Monday, Michael’s therapist – Ginny – met with him to talk about adoption.

And after speaking with Ginny for quite some time Monday night, I would say, the conversation went well… the seed has been planted.  When asked if he knew what adoption was… he did not.  When he got a general description of adoption, that being a family that you would live with forever… he responded “like the family I live with right now?”  And this… is a good thing.  It shows attachment and it shows that he is being loved.

But Ginny moved onward… she next mentioned that there might be families interested in adopting him.  And then she said… “and perhaps you will get to do some visiting” – to which he replied – “oh yes, my dad said that if I am good, I might get to go visit those people who were here after Christmas.”  Now that was music to my ears!  And so… “those people” entered the conversation.   And just by chance, “those people” had sent some pictures to his therapist… just in case “those people” got brought up.  Here’s what we sent…

Those People – Take 1

And the reaction to these photos… was exciting to hear and, I think, telling in some ways.  We made the decision (with the advice of the folks in North Carolina) to talk about the boys from the beginning.  And, most all of you who are sucking up their valuable time reading this know one thing about me… I always want to lead with this story.  Because… if you don’t, there is inevitably “a question” which, if you are honest, leads to “an answer” which makes the asker feel really bad… and then…well, sometimes they cry and then… I always cry. So deciding to do this… was good for me.  And young Michael got teary-eyed when Ginny told him the story of the boys and that tells me that he has empathy which is a good thing.

He also got very excited about the picture of the lake… how pretty it was.  But then, he got worried that there might be snakes.  And Ginny took a good 15 minutes to discuss this with him and to assure him that parents protect kids from snakes… well, actually “dads” protect kids from snakes… which I  totally agree with.  The good news here… this child will not want the “snake” pet.  YAY!

And, of course, he loved the last picture of Rachel.  Good news here is that I have so very many photos to choose from… so I can always end our photo shows with something like this.  Rachel, loves taking pictures of herself… YAY!

So, that’s about it.  I am so interested to know what questions he has asked at home this week… and I will be sure to call his foster family this weekend and report back.  They are such wonderful people who have totally opened themselves up to Michael and to us.  It takes really special people to do what they are doing and I am honored to get to know them better.  I feel pretty confident that they will be part of Michael’s life forever.

I have had many beliefs shaken over the past 6 years but I do believe that God brings people into your life at different times… for different reasons.  I am glad to have all these people AND all of you in our lives right now.

more to come…

leslie

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