Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Four Months

It is April 10th, and that means it is four months since Evan moved out.

Four months without a hint of a kid. I said before that we have had an average of 10 weeks between placements. That is true only if we count Ann, whom we volunteered for. If we had not there would have been a nine month gap between Carl and David.

Though it has been good for us to have a break, I begin to wonder if we really serve a need by keeping the room available for a LGBT kid. The agency has done a good bit of diversity training. They are working to help families be accepting of all kids, so maybe there just aren't any kids who need us now. Maybe all the queer kids are safe.

Or maybe they are closeted, which I know comes in degrees. They may have carved lives for themselves in which they have stable and supportive peers and do not come out to their foster parents. Even if they know of our existence they may prefer their current circumstances to moving away from their friends.

During the time that David was with us I got several calls from the state asking me to take a gay kid. I was overwhelmed then by the need for homes for these boys. (And yes, they were all boys. I don't know why I do not get called about girls.) When David left I had no doubts at all that waiting for the next queer kid was the right thing to do. The call came in two months.

But this time it has been four and we are still waiting. So maybe we are not serving a real need. In one sense obviously we are not. We have no new kid. Our extra bedroom remains empty, waiting.

I know that if I asked the social workers at the agency I would get an ambivalent answer at best. They like us and they respect the commitment we have made, but having a "special home for queer kids" is not something they are comfortable with. They are working hard to make all the homes safe for all the kids. We know that they address issues of sexuality now in training. All of the families should be safe. And all of the children need homes. An empty bedroom in the home of a skilled family is a frustrating thing.

Though I am the one who writes about this, Hubby's commitment to waiting for a GLBT kid is much stronger than mine. I think that he keeps that commitment in part because it pretty much assures us breaks. He says, and I do believe him, that he finds it very difficult to relate to most teenagers. He did not relate to them when he was one, and he cannot now. He feels he has little to offer. The only thing he feel he has is the understanding and the ability to support kids who are gay. His passion on this issue is the one avenue he has to make a connection.

After Carl I told the agency that I might be able to convince him to take another kid, but it would have to be a kid he knew. He has to be able to make an emotional connection first. I told them that if they had a straight-identifying kid that they wanted to place with us they should ask us to take him/her on respite or as temporary. Give Hubby a chance to get to know the youth and I bet he would not be able to say no.

Part of me wants to tell that to the agency again. I want to tell them that if there is a youth who they think would do well here, have a reasonably healthy relationship with the bioboys, then tell me about him/her. Let me work on Hubby, convince him to let us take the youth. Let me find a way for Hubby to feel he can make a connection.

But I don't know. I find it hard to believe that the agency has succeeded, so far, in really making families safe for queer kids. I know there is a big difference between tolerance and celebration. I at least want to believe that we have something special, something needed, to offer, and that I should wait until the kid who needs us most finds us.

And I know that I have reasons of my own for waiting. Being the PFLAG mom has become part of my identity. I will always be one, of course, as Carl, David, and Evan will always be part of my life, but I have had this picture of me being an active PFLAG mom for years to come. Please pardon my language, but perhaps I'm just a "hag" (can't even bring myself to use the whole phrase). I like LBGT community. I have so many friends there. I feel so loved there (another issue I should perhaps explore). I want to sit at that table and be welcomed.

So, what, do I think these kids are tickets to a party I want to attend? That's a disturbing thought.

And maybe homes with our particular commitment just are not needed right now. Maybe the LGBT kids' lives are not perfect but maybe they have carved out networks of friends where they have support. Their foster parents are not great, but they are trying. They are better off with people who are working to become what they need than they would be moving to a new school in a conservative town to live with crazy people like us. During the time that we had David we received several calls regarding gay boys, but we did not get one during the time that Evan was with us.

Perhaps we should be willing to take any kid. Although of course, any kid would have to deal with the stigma of being put in the "special home." Maybe that is part of the problem. Even the gay kids don't want to go to Yondalla's Home for Troubled Gay Youth. I imagine myself a heroine, but I'm really a ridiculous lifeguard looking for people drowning in a dry lake bed.

But it is a good thing if we are not needed, right?

And if the community of kids who used to need us no longer do, then shouldn't we be ready to take whoever does need us?

So maybe I should call them. Maybe I should start working on Hubby.

But I can't quite make myself do it. I can't quite stop believing that I am not waiting for a kid to come into existence, but that I am waiting for a kid who already exists to get noticed.

I know that if they call me about a GLBT kid, I will know I did the right thing by waiting.

And as long as they don't I will wonder if we are.

Update: I mentioned my worry to Hubby and Andrew. They think I'm funny -- not in an intentional, "let's put mom on a comedy tour" way, more like "how is it that you can ALWAYS find something to worry about" way. Sigh.


  1. Taking a break is a good thing but hopefully it's not intended (by the powers that be) to get your energy high enough to deal with what's coming. Really, you are a gift to a child in search acceptance. Things will all work out, they always do.

  2. No, you're not what you said unless I am too.

  3. we have always laughed and said that the paranoid gene runs in our family. are we related?

  4. I think that providing a safe and supportive place for an lgbt kid is an amazing and wonderful thing. I tried to be all neutral in my comment but I have to admit that if you are leaning towards waiting I'd go with that. The beauty of the situation though is there is no wrong path. Whatever you decide has benefit.

  5. As a foster parent you have a special place in MY heart. I know how confused and troubled these kids are, their worlds are upside down and they've lost all control in their lives. Add to that being GLBT and the emotional turmoil of coming out and accepting yourself....you are a gift! Most traumatized teenagers probably don't see it that way and therefore don't know what a blessing they have. So it's up to the rest of us to say "thank you" and please hang in there.

    PS. You can come sit at our table anytime. LOL

  6. Cebii used to feel the same way as your husband and still does to an extent.

    The kids in your state must be more closeted or something because we are asked about a steady stream of gay kids here.

    Hang in there! I love the idea of the room waiting, but I understand your frustration.


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