Tag Archives: foster parents

Workplace Landmines

The bad thing about arranging to take Family Medical Leave is that my co-workers had to know about why I wasn’t going to be around.  I didn’t have to say anything to everyone myself; a few people knew and the news spread.  I can’t be mad about that, and I’m not mad about it.  People were naturally excited and happy for us, and as far as we knew on Thursday, the placement was a definite go.

Now that it’s the first week of classes and we’re back to work, people are noticing I’m not gone.  People are asking why I’m here.  I just say, “I had a reason to take the leave, and then I didn’t.”  That is the truth.  I had a reason and then I didn’t.  Those words mask the heartache and heartbreak, though.  I just told a co-worker the reason why it didn’t happen – from out of left field, a family member of the child’s stepped up and was awarded the placement.  Saying those words to her almost made me lose my composure.  I felt my knees buckle like they did at the beach Sunday.  Only this time I wasn’t saying goodbye to Mariah.  I was mourning Mariah.

These workplace landmines are pocketknives stabbing me in the heart.  I want to turn my office lights off and lay on the floor in darkness.  I’m still marveling at how much love I felt for this child I didn’t know and hadn’t met.  She changed my life without ever having entered it physically.

I am not the same person I was a week ago.



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We Lost Her Before We Met Her

On Wednesday, we received the call we’ve been longing for:  Our county’s Department of Human Services had a child for us, a 21-month old girl named Mariah.  We talked it over and agreed to it.  My partner sent our licensing worker an email saying that yes, we would love to take Mariah into our home.  We celebrated by going out to dinner for what we thought would be the last time in a while.  Then, we picked up some Eucerin lotion, diapers and some other things for her, including a book about toddler behavior and what to expect.

On Thursday, we cleaned and spit-polished the house, and made sure her room was ready.  We received an email from our worker stating we’d have more information after her meeting with Child Protective Service workers and others.  I quickly arranged a leave of absence from work.  When we didn’t hear anything, we decided to go to lunch, very excited about becoming a parents finally.  In the middle of lunch, our worker called and said something unexpected happened and that she’d be at our house to conduct a home study.

We went from being excited to deflated.  Come to find out two family members stepped up and needed to be assessed, and that if those family members didn’t pan out, we’d still have a chance at Mariah.  We sat at the table with our worker during the home study completely numb and shocked.  A high chair sat to our worker’s right.  Dolls and stuffed animals sat on the couch, awaiting Mariah to play with them.  She had to have seen, she had to have known how we were feeling.  She didn’t look through the house, and she didn’t acknowledge our emotions.  After she left, we put things away.  I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.  I was too angry and hurt by the wringer we’d just been through.

I emailed by supervisor to let him know a glitch happened and I’d know more Friday morning.  Friday morning came and my partner received a voicemail saying that Mariah would be placed with a family member.  She called it a courtesy call.  Courtesy is such a gentle word for what was information that ripped our hearts apart worse than before.  Dan came home early and napped.  I sat feeling very numb and angry, and emailed my supervisor to say there was no longer a reason to find new instructors to teach my Fall classes.  He called but I didn’t answer the phone.  I couldn’t hear words of condolence, I just couldn’t, even though I appreciated them.

Why didn’t our worker know that family members might be available before giving us the call we wanted?  Why were we put through this hell?  Why did no one at DHS acknowledge our feelings and how hard it had to be?

Today, we went to the state park on Saginaw Bay.  We looked out at the wind-whipped white caps and after  Dan had taken pictures and wandered off, I leaned against the railing and told Mariah that I hope she’s safe and loved where she’s at now, and that I hope she knows there are two people who loved her immediately and without question, without having actually met her.  “Namaste, Mariah,” I said.  “I love you.”

My knees buckled.  Some of the tightly wound emotions holding me up the last two days left me, were carried along by the wind up into the sky with my words.


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The License Finally Arrived

We’ve been awaiting the license’s arrival for months, alternating between anticipation and disappointment with nearly every visit to the mailbox.  We had grown used to the idea of it not coming, and in fact, had really let it fall off our radar screens.  We assumed it was languishing, dusty and neglected, in the DHS offices of our state’s capital, victim of short-staffing and overwhelming work loads.

I did not think the license would arrive in the unassuming white envelope.  The only thing that made it stand out to me at all was the Department of Human Services return address.  I can’t say I felt excited when I realized that our official provisional license was inside.  I had just come home from a long day at work, and my focus was on heating up leftover risotto for dinner.

When I got inside, I put the rice in the microwave, then opened the envelope and unfolded the document on the counter.  I took a picture of it, and texted it to my partner.  We’re one step closer to being daddies.


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Home Study Complete

Our home study was completed yesterday morning, and went to our social worker’s supervisor.  After that, off to Lansing for approval.  Then official license.  Then another wait for the phone calls to begin.  One wait ends only to see another begins, and while I know that is the way of life, it’s rather tiring.

We began this process in June and I’m surprised at how long it’s taken to get as far as we have.  However, I am pleased we are as far as along as we now are.

When I read the email the home study was complete, I can’t say I felt elation.  I felt exhaustion.  I felt so much tension leave my body and mind.  Finally, I thought.  Finally.  I’ve definitely scaled back my expectations and reigned in my emotions.  I indulged too far into the anticipation and preparations.  Knitting the blanket, shopping for the nursery, buying clothes and shoes, buying bottles and diapers… Naming her… All of that helped me feel connected to what we were doing, but it also made it that much harder to bear when events evolved so slowly.

The last few weeks were anything but relaxing.  My partner and I had ourselves psyched up for a very unrealistic timeline; we were definitely hoping for a Christmas “miracle” placement, a chance to become a family during a special time of the year.  I’ve also been craving for something that will allow me not to define myself through my work so much.  That’s been weighing on me, too, knowing that I’m not happy being such a workaholic, that there’s so much more for me to give of myself in a different aspect.  But my focus has been solidly on my work this past week, and has been a great distraction from not having a child yet, and helped temper the two additional rounds of questions we had to answer before the home study was completed.

So another hurdle jumped.  I see more ahead and am conserving my energy, which I should have done all along.

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Spinning Our Home Study Wheels

Today was the day I was convinced our official foster care license would arrive in the mail.  It didn’t.

All along I assumed our completed home study was in Lansing, being processed.  It wasn’t.

I assumed our social worker had completed the home study.  She hasn’t.

We both received email from her asking for more information and clarification to the questions we’ve already answered.  I had to go further in depth into my father’s abusiveness, and one of my ex’s abusiveness.  That was a treat.  Hopefully, I gave enough detail and explanation this time so we’re not held up any longer.  Dan had to write more about his abusive step-father.  Both of us have that in our pasts.  Is that going to disqualify us somehow?  Hold us up somehow?  Make them question our abilities somehow?  I can’t believe that would happen, but you never know.  Still, I’d rather be honest about my past than lie about it.  It’s happened, I’ve worked hard to process and deal with it all, I’m different than what I grew up with.  I am not my father, although sometimes I wonder if something is laying dormant.  Seems like I’d know that by now.

At any rate, we’re no farther ahead in the game than we were on the day of the home inspection.  My partner says I’m too trusting, that I’m quick to believe what people tell me.  He’s right.  In my mind, and his mind, we would already be fathers.  We’d already have our child.  Now I feel like I need to focus on something else.  I’ve been half-hearted in focusing on work because I’ve held out hope we’d have a child coming very soon.  Now I see I should have thrown myself back into work, defaulted to workaholic mode.

So I’m in here writing about my disappointment while my partner is reading a book I bought today called Gay Dads by David Strah.  I’ll read it when he’s done with it.  Maybe reading about the stories of men who have come before us will help us cope better, will help us gave a different understanding and perspective.

Will help us stop fantasizing so much and start living our lives again.

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Home Study

We had the home study yesterday.  All my stress and angst really was for naught, and I’m embarrassed I had my tantrum post on Monday.  (I toyed with the idea of deleting it, but realized emotions are part of the journey, for better or worse.  So it stays.)

The actual tour of the home was pretty quick.  The social worker asked about the fire extinguisher and smoke detectors, as we expected, and about where we would house prescription drugs.  She called our living room beautiful, our hardwood floors gorgeous, and smiled when she saw the child’s room.  She didn’t really say too much, but her non-verbal cues were very positive and she wrote some notes down.

During the course of our conversation, which mostly consisted of her reading a list of things she’s required to read in these situations, we came to find out we can, indeed, be borrowed by surrounding counties, so that’s good.  We also found out she will have the home study report written by next Wednesday, and we will likely be fully licensed by early January.  It’s good to know some basic timelines, after so much mystery.  Progress is being made.

One of my colleagues at work and his wife went through foster training at the same we did.  The social worker told us they received their license Monday and by Tuesday had a ten-year-old placed with them.  Their home study was just around Thanksgiving, so perhaps that’s a sign of things to come for us.  But either way, I’m very excited for them and need to be in touch, so they know they have us as a support system if they need one.

On a side note, no comment was made about the blanket I knitted for the baby.  Regardless, it was there on the crib, ready for her when she arrives.

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