Our Imperfect Lives


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We Got a Delivery

This week we had a special delivery, but not the kind that’s generally associated with starting a family. The bundle of joy we received was a lot of wood flooring! This of course means we’re at it again with the home improvement projects. Well, really we never stopped.

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The projects we’re hustling to finish like the flooring, electrical work, and painting are items that have been on our to do list for quite some time and we decided that going through this adoption process is the perfect kick in the pants we needed to set some hard deadlines for ourselves. Plus, it helps keep us busy during this long process.

Pairing our infatuation with home improvement with our adoption process doesn’t end with giving ourselves deadlines, its also spilled over onto the start of our toy stockpile. During a recent trip to a thrift store Meg’s eyes immediately latched onto a toy toolkit, so we scooped it up.  Then, since we spent the holiday weekend away, Meg proceeded to scratch that home improvement itch by playing with the toy toolkit herself. Naturally she wanted to make sure it was good enough for our future child/children. As you can see we plan on indoctrinating them early.

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Now our short holiday is over and we have our first home study meeting with our social worker this coming week, so we’re going to be neck deep in work around the house. Our primary goal for when she comes over is to simply get our new wood out of our dining room so we have a nice place to sit and chat with her. She’s already seen our home so we don’t envision this first meeting will include much in the way of an actual inspection of our physical home. More likely this visit will be about our home as an emotional place – how welcoming and nurturing it will be to a foster child/children. Also, from what we gather from our MAPP classmates, we’ll be discussing ourselves a lot. Pretty much it sounds as though we’ll be rehashing a lot of the information from the profile packet we completed as part of our MAPP class.

While we would have liked to have already started the home study process it is nice having the opportunity to learn about our classmates experiences. It helps us to know what to expect, since we have a tendency to get a bit of anxiety about these types of things. While Meg is sometimes prone to some anxious feelings over such important matters, Marcy is a bit more relaxed about most things in life but gets super quiet and is rather uncomfortable about the impending one-on-one interview.  Plus, even though we have the luxury of hearing about other people’s experiences – it’s still a lot of unknowns.

It seems we’re also pretty lucky to have the social worker that we do. We’ve only met with her once, way back in October when we kicked off this whole process, so we don’t really know much about her other than she seemed pretty nice according to what we could glean in that short meeting. A fellow teacher at the high school Meg works at recently adopted two young girls and worked with our social worker. She gave her a glowing report card. We’re told that she is a great advocate and very attentive to the needs of an adoptive parent.

All in all as the days tick by our excitement still stays high and we’re looking forward to our first home study meeting!

 

 


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Lots to be Done, so Let’s do Something

Well unfortunately bureaucracy moves slowly, so we’re still waiting to make the move to the next step of the process towards becoming eligible foster/ pre-adoptive parents.   We reached out to our area DCF Office but they were still waiting to receive our MAPP Profiles from MSPCC (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) – the organization we took our MAPP training through. Our social worker will not be able to begin the home study until after she has received and reviewed our MAPP Profiles.

So now we wait…. and do work around the house and anything else we can think of doing in preparation.

We’re making progress on our many projects at home. We’ve had a new light put in our small bedroom and a light in the hallway – with two light switches! Our hallway is so fancy (and well lit) now! Marcy also stepped back into the closet (literally) and painted the last bit of wall space with original paint.

And of course we’re trying to make ourselves completely finish projects we’ve already started since we’re terrible at that. Sometimes we when we go the “it looks so much better stage” we get distracted by the next project. Here are a couple of examples of almost finished projects we’ve done over the last year or so that we’re now working to finish:

Our dining room is so very close to being done! The ceiling still needs one more coat of paint, we need to finish the trim and refinish the floors. But it looks so much better.

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Our upstairs hallway is slowing making progress. While we did love the floor to almost ceiling paneling we were pretty happy to say “goodbye” to that and the drop ceiling. We still have a couple more small tasks in the hall, but the big step is putting down new floors and although we’ve started planning out how we’re going to go about doing it – it’s going to be awhile.

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In addition to being very handy women we took some time to work on our house rules. House rules are recommended for foster homes not only to help keep our home running (relatively) the way we’d like it to. But, more importantly they can be helpful for the child – to give structure and an understanding of where and how the child fits in to the home.

Our rules are very general and very simple. They’re also a work in progress and I imagine we’ll seek feedback from our social worker. They are as follows:

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While we may not have made much headway in starting our family, it was probably for the best that we weren’t visited by a social worker this week since we had two very rambunctious house guests – a pit bull/jack russell mix and a puggle. We were dog sitting for friends which made our house a little hectic for visitors; anyone who stepped into our home was instantly greeted by four very excited dogs – which could be overwhelming.

We’re hopeful that this week, after we clean up all the dog hair and little paw prints, we’ll hear from our social worker and schedule the first meeting for our home study. Until then we’ll continue crossing off items, and probably adding a few, to our to-do list.


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Officially MAPP Graduates

Last week we finished our very last MAPP Class – Wahoo! The MAPP Certification is good for 5 years, so let’s hope we get placed with a kid or three before then!

Our last class was one of the more emotional classes, not necessarily because the discussion topics pulled at our heartstrings more than others, but because we weren’t just discussing hypotheticals and ifs and maybes. We had the opportunity to watch several short video clips of youth discussing their experiences growing up in foster care. Real teenagers telling their very real stories. One of these stories was a girl who attended 13 or so high schools before making the decision to just drop out and get her GED; “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was when she transferred to her thirteenth school and was told she would be a ninth grader because not all of her transcripts and credits followed her to this last school – when she should have nearly been finished. This girl’s story was sad, but at the same time inspiring, because after all of that she was attending community college. She signed herself back into the foster care system after aging out so she was still receiving state help, but she was working to make something of herself after persevering through difficult times.

Another story came from a young man who lost his parents in a car accident. He was placed in what was thought to be a loving and nurturing home. However, after several years in the home the father, a preacher, decided that the young boy was teaching his biological son his “Mexican ways” ( he was Venezuelan) and had him removed from the home.

Some of the other stories were more positive. A young girl who was placed with a family who she stayed with for many years and gave her the love and support a child needs and deserves. All of the stories were heart wrenching – and inspiring at the same time. The story of the child or children we are placed with may share some of these stories and they may not, we won’t know until the time comes.

While the class was eye opening in ways we also know that we have a lot to learn about the process and the experiences and troubles children may have. For now though we’re focusing on our next step, which is to have a home study done.

The home study can take two to three months. Our understanding is that the inch thick packet of questions we had to complete as part of the MAPP class will be nothing compared to this process – lots of personal questions, self reflection and evaluation by DCF. In addition to all of that, this process will include an inspection of our house to make sure it’s safe and adequate for a small child to call home. So naturally, we’re viewing this impending process as motivation to cross a couple of items off our relentlessly expanding list of home repairs/improvement projects.

We love our home and we think it will be a perfect place for children to live and grow. It’s large, but not huge, it’s cute and comfy  – and it’s over a hundred years old – so it has some quirks and is in need of a few updates. Some of our electrical work hasn’t been updated since before disco was cool so that has been our first plan of attack. Thankfully, this is actually the easiest task because it’s going to be done by someone else: a licensed electrician.

We do have a myriad of other tasks that we’ll be doing ourselves, some of which are already underway. The important thing for us to remember when we start home improvement projects is to actually finish the project. We’re great at getting projects about 90% done and then getting distracted. A great example of this is when we tore down some ghastly retro paneling and a drop ceiling in our hallway and added a chair rail in the hall and staircase.  We’re so close to finishing – we just need to fill in some gaps and touch up some paint, but it’s been at the nearly finished stage for months. We’re hoping to fix that soon. (We can pretend that we haven’t finished because we’ve been waiting to get an electrician in to install a hall light but that would be a lie – anyway we’ll have a light by the end of the week!).

We’re hoping to hear from our area DCF office to schedule our first visit of the home study and while we wait we’re making our list, checking it twice and diving in. It may still be months until we are eligible to be placed with a child and we’re going to be as productive as we can in that time. Who knows how much (or little) time we’re going to have once we do get placed with a child – or children?!