I just found out that tomorrow is National Adoption Day. Seeing as how we’ve been flung (joyously but unexpectedly) into this whirlwind that is adoption, I feel as if I should write something about it.
Often times people think that adoption is expensive. We get that question regularly, and it was something that even we were in the dark about. When we became foster parents, adoption was NOT our end goal so we never even asked those questions. Fact is, though, that if you adopt through the foster system (at least in San Diego) it is FREE! Private agencies charge a lot of money, but not the county. I did a little research and found that throughout the US this is the case, though they can charge you small fees for various things like fingerprinting and background checks.
It’s not an easy path if you instantly want to have the promise of a baby. Usually the wait list for adoptable infants through the county is long, but if you are willing to take on a child that’s toddler age or older there is a huge need. There is also a HUGE need for foster parents, and this is a less direct way to end up with a baby. This is the route we took, though our end goal was initially not adoption. Fostering is an amazingly rewarding, guaranteed to be bittersweet and a little heartbreaking, experience that is not for the week of heart. I encourage you to check out a Foster Family Agency (just Google it!) in your area for good info that’s relevant to you.
Our super cute, almost-adopted foster son checking out the scenery.
So, really and truly, you can adopt a child that is in terrible need of a forever family for FREE or almost free. You might have to pay for livescan and/or some other nominal fees, but it’ll all be less than a few hundred bucks. In fact, depending on the situation, you might even get PAID by the government for the foster care phase and even after adoption up until the child turns 18.
I’m antsy. This week is the first big court date we have for our foster son. It’s the date where the court will decide if they should terminate services for his biological parents or continue. Really, it’s probably a no-brainer because they’ve been completely MIA since the beginning, but it’s still nerve wracking for us because it’s the first real step that brings us closer to becoming his legal parents. Man.
When we began this journey, we were sure we didn’t want to adopt. Our goal was to love on a child that needed it, to help them through a rough patch and to mentor some young parents along the way. We were pretty happy with our two middle-school-age daughters and our new found freedom as a family on the move. I was enjoying being out of diapers and bottles with kids securely in a good school. The thought of starting over with another baby made my palms sweaty. We had, however, heard that this was the way the cards tended to fall. When the foster parents really don’t intend to adopt, they come up with the adoptable kids. It’s Murphy’s Law. The parents who would love nothing more than to grow their family end up with placement after placement that gets reunited. The universe is funny like that.
So, here we are, 9 months almost to the day of when our journey began and I couldn’t imagine life without the little guy. That’s how they sucker you in. You get eased in by this thought that it’s not permanent, and by the time the option for permanency presents itself you are totally on board with the idea! In reality, it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster. You spend the first few months guarding your heart against becoming too attached, and then the inkling of the idea that this baby might actually end up yours presents itself. No matter how hard you try to protect your heart after that, you can’t stop the hope from wriggling it’s way into you. In the end, this case can still go either way. I’ve seen potential parents put all of their hope into a baby, only for that baby to be reunited or placed with a biological family member that shows up at the last minute. I don’t know how the cards will fall for us, but I know that in the end it will all be okay. I hold onto the optimism that God is so much bigger than me, and that doors open and close as they should. Life will inevitably march forward and we will grow, no matter which way this journey takes us.
I got another article accepted today that was a total blind submission. YAY for that! It’s the little things in life that keep you moving forward sometimes. I’ve also been thinking a lot more on the direction I’d like to really take with my writing. I quite enjoy family travel adventure stuff, on a budget with kids, etc. I think this is what I am really going to focus on submitting to various places and see where it goes, along with reviews of certain things that pertain when they come up. I feel good about this, I think it suits me. I really ultimately want to write books, but bills must be paid over the course of however long it takes me to actually finish one.
My husband and I have this idea in our head that we are going to take our family on a crazy 30-day Amtrak adventure. We used to travel a lot when we were in college and kid-less. I think we always were sure that our children would be well traveled by the time they were 10, but of course we didn’t take into consideration the cost of actually buying 4 plane tickets anywhere. We’ve lowered out idealistic parenting expectations since they are now 8 and 10 and have barely been to Mexico (we live 10 miles away,) but we are really enjoying this age range and love taking them on low-key adventures around the city. While 4 plane tickets to anywhere seems prohibitive, Amtrak actually offers half price fares for kids and they have these cool US Rail deals. Essentially, you get 30 days of almost limitless travel with one ticket AND you can take bicycles on the trains for free. This is just the type of adventure our bohemian hearts are yearning for. Now, we just need to figure out how to save the cash to make it happen. Keeping my fingers crossed for a writing gig that actually pays decently! Hey, I’d even settle for consistently.
Write every day! We’ve heard this over and over again, and I am just attempting to fulfill this promise to myself. I’ve got a house full of kids and no room for solitude unless it’s in my head. All you parents know what I’m talking about. It’s impossible to buy a moment. I find myself agitated that my kids are disrupting the imaginary world in my head, then realize how out of order my priorities can get. I received an email yesterday from the studio I write for letting me know that all of us writers can expect no work for at least the next few weeks, at minimum. Another stark reminder that I need to find other outlets asap. I think I really enjoy writing articles on doing things that are fun and unconventional. Travel articles with kids, local travel, local restaurant stuff (kid-friendly, of course) and anything on-a-budget. Where is a good place to submit these? Can I just go in blind, or do I need to query, or is there a list of suggested article topics I can pull from? Is this just what happens when you are actually hired as staff somewhere? Am I delusional in thinking that maybe I can just waltz in and submit unsolicited articles like this somewhere? Throw me a bone here, people. Let me know if you have insight into any of this stuff. I know some of you write for a living.
I hear children giggling behind closed doors. I wonder if I intervene too much or not enough. I wonder if it’s always a parent’s nature to question if they are doing this right. We only get one chance. It’s so strange, this transition between milestones. It happens regularly; I remember distinctly different times, like when I couldn’t figure out why C kept crying in her car seat when she was a baby. I realized, finally, that she was squished in there with that stupid little infant pillow and she couldn’t turn her head. One day it just occurred to me to take it out, and she was so happy. She was growing from infant to something bigger and I wasn’t realizing it. As soon as I did and modified my end, she was fine and able to be happy in the skin she had grown into. It’s like, you find balance together as a family and then your kid decides to jump onto that next rung and family life is thrown into upheaval for a moment until we can find our equilibrium again. I think we are hitting that phase right now, fast and hard. We can figure out how to grow and climb to that next precarious step together, parents balancing kids, or we parents can refuse to move and throw the entire thing of kilter. I guess it’s time to figure out the best way to step up and take that next pillow off.