Though I have been thinking a lot about adoption, that really isn't Gary's issue. Gary is trying to decide how to respond to what his dad said about parental rights.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
I asked him last night whether he thought his father would deny paternity. I mean, it seems to obvious to me. It is a relatively simple action and it would accomplish his goals. Gary doesn't think he will do that. He doesn't think Will CAN do that. Saying he is not and never was Gary's father would be a betrayal inconsistent with who he believes himself to be. In his mind he has stood beside Gary despite everything.
The TPR Will can rationalize differently. It is part of what he was trying to say to Gary the other day: it is just a legal thing that will get him out of having to pay bills he can't afford and shouldn't have to pay anyway. It has nothing to do with his relationship with Gary. That remains the same: he, Will, is the loving father who has stood by Gary through everything and will continue to do so. He isn't going to stop being Gary's father; he is just going to give up his legal parental rights. Those would go away when Gary was 18 anyway, right?
That is how Gary understands Will's perspective. It is the sort of warped narcissistic logic I would expect from my father.
On one hand, I have always believed that losing parental rights doesn't make someone not a parent. Parents who consent to adoption when their children are infants are always those children's first parents. The adoptive parents and the first parents are both "real." The law can say who has rights, but that is different. Carl, David and Evan are my sons in a way that is real to me and to them, though we have no biological or legal relationship.
So I think I can understand how someone could come to the conclusion that trying to terminate your own parental rights in order not to be financially responsible for a bill should not be understood as a betrayal.
Of course it is a betrayal.
And Gary has to decide how to respond. He seems to be leaning in the direction of termination because the only reasons he can come up with for NOT doing that is proving to Will who has the power in this situation, and making his dad pay, metaphorically and literally. Gary, like the rest of us, will fantasize about vengeance, but it is not part of his character to act on those fantasies. He will let his dad go.
From the state's perspective our willingness to adopt is important to the decision about termination. From Gary's it is a completely separate question. The answer to the adoption question I suspect is, "Listen, guys, I really like you and all, but I don't think I can cope with any more parents. Besides, being with the agency is really cool because I can pick out whatever shoes I want without worrying about how much they cost you."
Right now he does see some positives to adoption. Driver's ed would be nice, but then it is just one more year and his girlfriend's parents wouldn't let her get in a car with him anyway. The biggest positive to it is that he could change his name to anything he wants. As I've mentioned before, he hates his first name and if this termination of parental rights happens he may decide he is not so attached to his last name either. That though has to be weighed against things like having everyone expecting him to be thrilled to have us as family. He barely knows Andrew. Brian really gets on his nerves sometimes. I'm a pretty good listener and a cool parental-type that doesn't try to control him, but well, maybe that's all. Roland is an okay guy, but he's so Brian-like. Not in the annoying ways, well, sort of, you know how they both just make noise all the time, for no reason at all? They just tap their feet and clap their hands and make sound effects. Sometimes he skips breakfast because he can't deal with that in the morning.
He likes us. He will say that he is really glad that he wound up with us as a foster family. This is a good place to live, but does he want to be adopted? Does he want to have to deal with everyone in the whole world asking if him how thrilled he is? Everyone will go on about LOVE when he is just glad to pick out a really cool fighter's name and not to having to deal with social workers.
Anyway, this is surmise on my part. Roland agrees that this is very likely where he is.
Roland and I would adopt him without hesitation whenever he is ready for such a move. All else being equal, I still like the idea of offering adult adoption to all the boys at one time. It is how I have pictured ending our foster-care career. Things have a tendency to happen in ways other than how I have imagined them, but I think it is best for me to go back to imagining that while being open to the possibility that Gary will be ready for something else.