Friday, October 13, 2006

Evan and Scotland

Apologies to those who saw this earlier...I clicked publish instead of save before I ran off to class...okay...back to writing.

Just in case it was not obvious to anyone, Evan doesn't really have a deep need to do something "meaningful." He is not suddenly over-taken with a desire to give back and volunteer.

What he wants and probably needs is a safe place to finish growing up. He needs to know that he has unconditional support. He wants parents that he can live with for a few more years while he works and quits jobs until he decides he wants to move out on his own. He would definitely go off to the technology college if someone was telling him, "I expect you to get a job and pay for some things. If you don't, then you won't have anything. But don't worry about tuition, room and board. One way or another, we will make sure that gets paid. You might have loans, but I will help you. "

He wants a parent who will help him to decide that it is okay to take out a loan. He wants to know that if he decides he hates it at college he could come back home and move into his old room.

He almost has that. He has something much closer than the vast majority of foster kids. He has an agency that is saying, "We have got hundreds of kids through college without loans. We will help you too. You just have to work hard and do your part."

The unasked, unanswered question though is, "what happens if I fail?"

The truth is that Evan has it relatively good there too. Though I expect his bedroom will get filled up at some point, he will be welcome to come back to live and pay nominal rent as long as it is empty. He can stay with us on an emergency basis anytime. Like Carl did this summer, he can call us telling us that he was hit with an intestinal thing and really wants to spend a couple of weeks at home resting and getting his strength back, and we will buy him the bus ticket.

He also has his aunt and grandmother. They would be a safety net for him too.

The problem is that he doesn't feel like he has a safety net. Everyone is pushing him to be an adult and he is afraid.

If we are going to speak in analogies: I think he has a hard firm safe path laid out for him, but he sees a thin, unstable bridge over a chasm instead. So he is trying to find something that feels safe ("if I go volunteer at this house in Scotland they will provide me with room and board and allowance and I can stay there as long as I like"), and I think he is forsaking safety and going skydiving.

My conversation with him last night was a desperate attempt to balance assurance of unconditonal love with honest feedback. That was difficult for him to understand. He seems to think that we will either support him in this decision or abandon him. "No honey, if you go I will drive you to the passport office, and the airport. I will even send you care packages. I will also tell you that I think this is not a wise idea. I don't think it will make you happy, and I think you will regret giving up what you have right now. I know the agency will let you apply for college funds until your are 24, but right now you are debt free and have a healthy savings account. That will not be an easy place for you to get back to."

"But you won't like refuse to talk to me or help me at all, right?"

"We won't do that."

"So you can support me in this?"

If he weren't gay and if there weren't a war, and if there weren't a hundred other good reason why it would be a bad idea, I would recommend that he sign up for the military.

He just needs more time to grow up. He needs to be able to gain some more confidence. He needs to be able to fall down and know that he is safe.

We will be able to do a certain amount, but not as much as he wants.

I'm going to ask his social worker to set up some formal conversations with his grandmother.

What I finally suggested to him last night was that he plan on starting college next fall. He could talk to his grandmother about living with her while working and saving money until then. What I hope is that she will say yes and that will give him the transitional environment he wants and he won't go to Scotland at all.

Of course he might still go, but if he did and hated it (which he will) then he will have another plan in place. If this were Andrew or Carl saying that wanted to do this for a year before College I would be all for it. Given their personalities, it would make sense. They probably would not find it nearly as much fun as they thought it would be, but they would manage.

Evan though is just afraid.

But I understand, adulthood is frightening.

1 comment:

  1. what happened to the rest???

    ReplyDelete

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