Saturday, August 19, 2006

Future tripping, or living like a newbie

Since Evan came back from rehab I have been thinking of his remaining time with us in several chunks:
1. The months between coming home and starting summer school during which he was to work and concentrate on therapy.
2. Summer, during which he would take three classes.
3. The first two month of fall in which he would take the last two couple of classes.
4. The last couple of months in which he would be working and finalizing whatever needed to be done so that he could move out.

In each section I worry about the anxiety of transitioning to the next. I worry if he will be able to stay clean. I worry about how he will handle the most extreme anxiety of emancipation. I think about what I will and will not be able to do for him after he moves out.

I am as full of idealized hope and fear as any newbie. He can do it. He is doing so very well. The steps he needs to take for successful emancipation and self-sufficiency are clear and simple. His path to adulthood is flat, clear, and lined with roses.

But I react to that picture with something akin to panic. Too easy, too rosey, how naive can I be? I imagine that he does not see a gentle path to a secure adulthood, but a gangplank off the safe ship of childhood into the terrifying sea of adulthood where he will (he thinks) have no support. I imagine the ways in which he will respond with panic. I imagine all the things he might do.

I remember other kids who were set up for success:
N flying into a rage, hitting her foster mother and going to detention
David refusing to come home
Carl, graduating job corps and using his start-up money to follow a singer on tour.

So it is no wonder that reading the blogs of the the pre-placement people is difficult for me. I read their writing in which they hope and try not to hope for the impossible, in which they look forward to something they want to do and try not to be naive, and I feel all my own hope and anxiety.

I am trying to live in today, but it is a struggle.

I want to check in with Evan, "Are you afraid? Are you feeling confident? Do you understand that as long as you are trying, we will help you? That we will not rescue you from the consequences of bad decisions, but that if you make good decisions we will make certain that you do not fall through the cracks? Do you understand the difference? Can I explain it to you? Do you realize that your only real enemy here is fear? Are you afraid?" Somehow though I think that saying all those things, especially in the tone of voice I am inclined to say it, will not be helpful.


  1. rossecorp10:28 AM

    I'm thinking about how this is different from my experience with my 17 y/o bio son, who will be starting his senior year of high school next month. What you want to say to Evan is very similar to what I say to him. I would not say, however, that his only "enemy" is fear, although I think I understand what you mean by that. I would talk to him instead about the pitfalls and detours of immaturity and inexperience, and how they are to be expected, how I expect them, and that they don't mean failure. I would talk to him about how I will help him (and my daughter, of course) figure out what to do when those things happen, if he needs me to. And I wonder if that is the difference between what bio kids and foster kids who age out get: bio kids get many more chances to screw up, whereas foster kids better make it on the first or no more than the second try.

  2. I'm definitely a newbie to the US foster care system, and every time I see those kids about to be emancipated my heart breaks a little. I know I wouldn't have been ready to be essentially on my own at that age. Your willingness to continue helping Evan as long as he tries is a great thing.

    You wrote "in which they hope and try not to hope for the impossible, in which they look forward to something they want to do and try not to be naive" regarding pre-placement families. That's so me. It's me all over the place. Hoping, but trying not to hope. Trying not to be naive. It's a scary place to be! I'm continuing to educate myself, but I'm nervous. Reading blogs like yours is going to help me. Any and all advice is welcome!


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