Being a woman… getting older… finding out who you are… it’s all part of a journey that is probably never really complete (I’ll let you know in 50 years or so if I still feel the same way). I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching this past year. I’ve made a conscious effort to find places for self-improvement, and tonight I’ve found another one.
I tend to take on the role of the “responsible adult” in my family. (If you’ve been reading for a while, you know this already.) I’ve been parenting my parents nearly as long as I can remember, and now that my Dad has passed away and my brother has reached the peak of his “stupid” phase, I find myself wanting to parent him too. But I’m not his parent, and he is an adult now (albeit, barely).
My responsibilities lie in taking care of myself, my Dad’s two dogs (which now reside with me) and my future children. I have to make my decisions for their best interest, as I am their primary caregiver. It is (and will be) my job to ensure they are kept safe and healthy, so if my brother tells me to “go fuck myself” after I’ve refused to let him take the dog camping in the middle of the night with a group of his rowdy 19 year old friends, then I’ll have to be okay with that.
I consider this practice for when I have finally adopted. I will learn to trust my judgement, and not feel guilty or sorry for my decisions.
As I think about my decision to adopt, there are certain concerns that jump out at me. I’m trying to deal with them one by one, identifying and weighing my options, trying to find the best solutions to each. The concerns I have are pretty typical I think… can I afford this? What about the logistics? Will I be able to find after school care or babysitting? Will I have to move into a house with more bedrooms? Should I stay in the city or go back to the ‘burbs? Where are the best schools located? And the list goes on…
But my biggest concern is when will there be time for me? What about my Friday nights when I like to hit the take-out aisle of the grocery store and curl up on the couch at home in front of the TV, after a long week at the office? I don’t think I could function now without my night to stay in and veg, so how will I function once I have kids?
I do not intend on being one of those mom’s who says “once you have kids there’s just no time left for you!”. I firmly believe that to be a good parent, you need to be good to yourself, and that means taking breaks. Lots of breaks. I’m lucky enough to have an incredible support system in the making. I have already informed my mother that she’ll be my free after-school care (one down!), but she’ll also be there for me if I need some time off once in a while. There’s no reason my kids can’t go to Grandma’s for a weekend once a month, or spend the day at the zoo with my cousins, or once they’re comfortable enough, to have sleepovers with friends. I’m certain there’s another mom out there willing to trade sleepovers once in a while.
As for those Friday nights, I think the answer to that problem is to embrace it by making it a fun thing for the kids. “Children, Friday is our family night in! We can order pizza and watch movies until mommy falls asleep!”
Last week I submitted an application for adoption. Tonight I attended the orientation presentation. Sometime over the next couple of weeks I will submit a criminal record check, and the next phase of paperwork. In 8-10 weeks I will have my first home visit with a social worker, who will ask some very invasive but necessary questions and then schedule me for “training” which will likely begin in September. After that point, more home visits are scheduled and a report is prepared and submitted for approval. If I “pass the test” then I will be eligible to be “matched” with a child (children). This process could take any length of time, but I am hopeful that my openness to sibling groups over the age of six will increase my possible matches. Once a match is found, I am given full disclosure of the child’s background and current state, and visits with that child’s doctors, foster parents, teachers, etc. will take place. If at that point I am confident that this is my child (children) then I will meet the child and we’ll spend a week or so visiting and becoming familiar with each other, and then I will finally move them into my home. After approximately a 4-6 month period, the final adoption papers are drawn up and submitted to the court. Once the order is granted, I become that child’s permanent guardian, and everything from their birth records to their last name is changed to reflect mine.
I am scared shitless. I am also really, really looking forward to it.