Our Imperfect Lives


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Winter Wonders

Well, a lot has happened since we last posted – we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s, went hiking and skiing, but not much has happened on the adoption front. However, it’s mostly just a matter of formalities at this point; paperwork that needs to be pushed and legal matters settled to make us a family in the eyes of the law.

The first piece of paperwork is for the subsidy. If a child has a special need of some kind – such as a medical or psychological condition – the state may offer a subsidy to help cover these particular expenses. While pre-adoptive kids may not always qualify for a subsidy at the time of adoption that could change as the child grows, for example a medical condition may be diagnosed sometime after the finalization of the adoption or an early trauma might later manifest as some type of serious behavior problem. If a child is to qualify for the subsidy later, after the adoption, the subsidy must have initially been requested and denied prior to adoption. Then, and only then, may the adoptive family reapply for the subsidy.

Next up is the adoption petition. This document includes some information about us, but mostly information about the kids, verifies they are legally free to be adopted and have lived in our home for at least 6 months. Along with this document is paperwork for both of us to be re-CORIed (have another background check).

It’s not clear when all of this paperwork will be done and ready to be filed with the court, but once it is it could be just weeks after that we’ll have our day in court. Unfortunately, other families we know have been waiting months to hear back regarding the subsidy and we’re told that the DCF paralegal is swamped with paperwork, so it could be weeks before she’s able to review the paperwork and send it to the court. We’re hoping for a March court date, but there’s really no way to know for sure.

So, as always, life continues for us as we wait all of this out. And we’re trying to make life as fun and normal as it can be.

We celebrated Christmas – the kids were absolutely spoiled by our family and friends – and we did our best to begin teaching Sport the real meaning behind Christmas: giving to others. We held a holiday party for our friends where we asked that instead of exchanging gifts everyone bring hats and/or gloves for a child or adult that we could then bring to a local soup kitchen for them to distribute over the holiday. While Sport may not have fully understood what we were doing he had a blast at the party (so didn’t Sunshine), enjoyed picking out mitten and hat sets to donate and was a great help collecting all the donations.

The kids were also able to celebrate Christmas with their bio parents during their December visit (until the adoption is finalized they have a monthly visit with their bio parents, following the adoption it will be quarterly). Unfortunately, they did once again receive a few gifts that were not age appropriate (e.g. clothes not the correct size and toys for older children), but they seemed to have had a positive celebration.

This winter we’ve also done some great hiking – both in spring like conditions the day after Christmas and on snow covered paths on New Year’s Day. Sport also spent his first afternoon on the slopes testing out the skis he got for Christmas. We also hit the science museum a couple of times and a few different indoor play facilities (including our own home where we created an indoor obstacle course!). So far we’re having a great winter (even if we haven’t had that much snow)! Check out photos of our adventures here:

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Holiday Whirlwind

The holidays have always been busy for us since we’re both very close with our families and they’re both pretty local, so we try to fit everything, and everyone in. Now, add in two children under the age of three and then the holidays really get busy. Except this year we made everyone come to us.

Even though Sport is only two, he’s just old enough to get who Santa is and all the excitement that surrounds the jolly old man in red – of course he was still terrified when it came to sitting on the bearded guy’s lap, but what kind of parents would we be if we didn’t do the requisite crying toddler photo?

We started the holiday off with our foot to the floor and going fast. Christmas eve kicked off with spending hours disinfecting our house since we both had the stomach bug just before the holiday and the last thing we wanted to do was pass it along to anyone else (Thankfully the virus fairy took pity on us and stayed clear of the kiddos!). Then we kicked it into overdrive and had to scramble to get everyone in their holiday best for the Christmas Eve service at church where we met Meg’s family.

Church went amazingly well considering the candle lit service started at the time we’re usually getting the kids ready for bath time. Following the service we continued to push the needle to the red line and went to a family friend’s house. We figured since Sport knew Santa was coming it was going to be hard to get him to settle down for bed anyway, so we just put him in his Santa PJs at the party and by the time we got home at around 10 o’clock he was sound asleep from all of the activity.

The night was over for the kids, but not for us. It was time for our first shot at playing Santa. Marcy’s parents were very careful with their Santa versus Mom and Dad presents; they would use two different wrapping papers and Santa’s gift tags would be printed while Mom and Dad gift cards were written in script. This was a tradition Marcy insisted we follow. We realized that the kids were too young to pick up on the difference, but that it would be a good practice for years to come, because hopefully the kids will still be with us.

Christmas morning started with unpacking stockings followed by a couple presents, a snack, then more presents, then brunch with Meg’s family, then more presents, Marcy’s family came over, then more presents. The presents continued. All. Day. Long. It was a very slow going process. Sport opening one present and obsessing/playing with it for a bit then a short while later we were able to continue tackling the mound of presents. Each time he opened a present that was a clothes item he had to put it on. At one point he was wearing a t-shirt, a sweater, a t-shirt, a football jersey and a hat. When he opened his Snoopy sweatshirt we had to strip him down and start all over again with the clothes before he melted from the warmth.

It was busy. It was chaotic. It was amazing. Christmas is a whole new thing with small children in your life.

Well, it was a short week and then another holiday! This one was a bit lower key, in the sense that it was just the four of us. We went away for New Year’s Eve in what we imagine was the kids’ first vacation away. We traveled two hours north where we were able to swim in the hotel pool, hike in the woods, slide across a frozen lake in our boots and take a scenic train ride.

Our midnight celebration wasn’t quite like what we had celebrated in the past, in fact we were sound asleep when the clock struck midnight. However, we were wide awake a few minutes after the ball dropped because our littlest bundle of joy wasn’t so joyous. The dry air in the hotel room was wreaking havoc on Sunshine’s nasal passages and she couldn’t sleep. Thankfully Sport slept through all of the crying, coughing, and constant on and off of the hot steaming shower.

While the whole holiday season had a number of ups and downs we wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Now, here are a few photos from the amazing celebrations for your enjoyment:

Stocking

New clothes

Emma opening her present

Bella on alert

Checking out the new toys

Hiking

Hiking

Checking out the frozen lake

Checking out the frozen lake

Hiking

Train ride


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Legal Risk

Being pre-adoptive foster parents puts us in a pretty conflicted state – we want Sport’s and Sunshine’s birth parents to do well but at the same time we don’t want to lose the children. We knew when we accepted this placement that it was a legal risk placement, meaning the birth parents have not lost all their legal rights to the children. However, we knew if we wanted to be placed with a young child or children our chances of being matched with a placement would increase exponentially if we opened ourselves up to legal risk, so we took the chance.  Of course knowing the risks and really truly understanding the possible implications of a legal risk placement are two different things.

Now that we’ve had the kids in our care, living under our roof, for over two months we’ve genuinely started to develop a bond and we’re really falling for these kids. Even when Sunshine’s fussing at 3 AM and her eyes are welling with tears because she’s starting to teethe or when Sport is shrieking at the top of his lungs because he wants to play baseball and not go to bed, we’re still head over heels for these little buggers. They have become a part of our family – our children. Yet, the fact is, they aren’t just “our children” they are also our “foster children.”

The reality of the situation is that we have little control over the future. Everything is in the hands of the birth parents, DCF, and the courts. As of about a month and a half ago both children had goals of adoption. However, even though their goals are adoption, DCF continues to work with the birth parents to turn their lives around and follow the path that DCF has set out for them to be reunited with their children. While we do know some information about the troubles the birth parents have faced and some of the things they must do to prove they are fit parents, we don’t know specifics or where they are in this journey. What we do know is their social worker, who we communicate with on a regular basis as she is responsible for organizing and overseeing the children’s visits with their birth parents, mentioned that the birth parents took a step in the right direction. In addition to taking this very unclear “step” we know the parents are showing up to all of their visits with the children.

The “step” and the consistent visits could mean nothing. It could mean they are slowly working their way towards being fit parents in the eyes of DCF and the courts. Or, it could mean that they are doing what they’ve done in the past, making a bit of progress only to stumble back down the rabbit hole. Regardless of what it means, it has forced us to contemplate what legal risk means. It means Sport and Sunshine may never legally be part of our family. It means Sport and Sunshine might be removed from our home. It means Sport and Sunshine might be reunified with their birth parents. It means we might be devastated.

If, down the road, DCF or the courts decide that the children should be reunified with their birth parents – DCF will contact us and a transition plan will be created. If this does happen we could have very little time to get the kids prepared for the move and for us to digest the heartbreak. Of course, none of this may happen, but it could. We need to try to “prepare ourselves.” Although there really is no preparation. It will be painful. It will be difficult. Equally as important as trying to prepare ourselves and remind ourselves of what could be, is doing the same for our friends and family. The children have become a large part of their lives too.

Well, enough of the seriousness, time for some photos of the cute little nuggets helping prep for Christmas:

Meg and Sunshine decorating the tree

Marcy and Sport decorating the tree

Sport decorating the tree

Meg and Sunshine putting the angel on the tree