Our Imperfect Lives

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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

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It’s a Big Day

Earlier this week, after speaking with 3 different social workers, we finally met them – Sport and Sunshine.* Sport is a two year old boy and Sunshine is a just-shy-of-4 months old girl. And since those phone calls last week it’s been a hell of a whirlwind!

On the phone we had made a plan with the workers, which included a brief schedule of events: an initial introductory meeting with the children, their foster mother and the adoption social worker on Wednesday. We also scheduled follow up meetings on Saturday, where we would likely bring them to our house and introduce them to our dogs, and on Monday. Then Tuesday would be when the children would move in to our home.

The first meeting went pretty much as planned and it was wonderful. We had a nice chat with Sport’s social worker and the foster mother. Then we took the kids to a nearby indoor playground. Sport is a high-energy toddler who loved playing with balls, walking up slides and stepping down the stairs, and rolling around on a tricycle that was just a little too big for his tiny feet to completely touch the pedals. He was well behaved; he respectfully held hands while walking in the parking lot and complied when we insisted on “inside voices” while eating lunch at a local restaurant. His sister Sunshine was also a sweetheart. She hardly fussed except when she was hungry and after giving her a bottle she was content with being held, looking around and napping in our arms.

Our first meeting was the only thing that went exactly as planned; the rest of the plan simply went out the window. After meeting us, the foster mother felt comfortable enough to move the time table up because she felt it would be easier to not prolong her goodbye. She also worried that if the children stayed with her after the weekend she would have trouble caring for them as her husband was returning to work on Monday and she was not completely mobile after her knee surgery.

This accelerated time table means today is a big day – instead of just a long visit we’re picking Sport and Sunshine up and bringing them to our home to stay. They will officially be in a pre-adoptive home. So the last few days have been busy to say the least – we’ve been hurriedly preparing our workplaces for nearly a month of leave, while at the same time preparing our home for the needs of tiny people.

In addition to preparing our lives, we’re working to prepare our friends and family for some life changes as well. We’re starting our family in a manner that many people may not be familiar with and so it’s natural to have questions, which is in part why we’ve started to share our story through this blog. However, there are parts of this story that won’t be shared on this blog because it’s not our story to tell, and that’s the story of how Sport and Sunshine got to where they are in their lives. So, we ask that our friends and family not ask why they’ve been placed in state care or the details of what they have experienced in their short lives that lead them to our home. We also ask that no one speaks ill of their biological family.

This journey is about to get very interesting and we’re excited to share these adventures with all of our readers, family and friends! We hope that we all can learn and grow and have a great time!

*The real names of the children have been changed for their privacy and protection.


Paper Pregnant

We’re paper pregnant! That is to say we completed our home study, had it approved by the area office supervisor and signed all of the necessary paperwork to become officially eligible to be placed with a foster/pre-adoptive child/children. And it’s equally terrifying and exciting!

Now that we’re officially a home studied family we have more access to the child listings on the MARE (Massachusetts Adoption Resources Exchange) website. Previously we only had access to children chosen for the public page. However, as a home studied family we can read about many more children that need homes. We didn’t waste anytime and started searching our expanded list right away.

The sheer number of the children in the DCF system with the goal of adoption is heart wrenching and the thought of searching the list like a department store catalog is a little weird and a bit sad, but it’s exciting too. One of these children or sibling groups could be “the one.” In the time it takes for us to be placed with and legally adopt a child or sibling group we’re probably going to have inquired about a lot of children and viewed the profiles of even more but we know somewhere in that database is or will be the missing part of our family.

In our first night of pursuing the listings we found a few children that seemed like they might fit what we’re looking for. The listings only give us a quick snap shot of the child – even less that your typical online dating profile – so it will be difficult to tell for sure if they’re right for us without speaking to the child’s adoption worker and then the child. After looking for a bit we decided to inquire about a sibling group of three children, two boys and a girl, all of whom are under 4 years old.

In order to inquire about these three children we simply just shot an email off to our social worker who in turn emailed the social worker for these children. In all likelihood we won’t hit one out of the park our first time up to bat, so we’re still going to keep our eyes on the list of children. The children we inquired about are young and have only mild emotional needs, so there are probably many inquiries being made. Not to mention we may not be the right family – the social worker may prefer to place the children in a Hispanic home or perhaps a home without pets, or perhaps another family is just a better fit.

We can’t say for sure how long it will be until we get that phone call that says we have a match and we won’t know for sure if once we get that phone call it will work out, but we’re going to stay positive. And until then we still have plenty of projects around our house to keep us busy as we enter this next phase of our journey.

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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.


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.


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:


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.