Thursday, February 25, 2010

After the Hearing

First, thank you all for your kind comments, emails and tweets. I don't have the energy to respond to each of you, but it is so good to know that so many people care. It was particularly nice to hear from some of you who haven't commented in a while.

When the social worker brought Gary back in she signed (not ASL, but I got it) that Gary wanted to talk to me. I nodded and tried to make myself available. Gary was too emotionally exhausted at first. I did tell him that I was planning on cooking chicken thighs for dinner, but that he could have whatever comfort food he preferred. He said he wasn't hungry. I expected that to change suddenly, since he told me on the way to the hearing that he hadn't had much lunch and I know he never gets breakfast. Sure enough, half an hour later he wanted to know if we could order a GOOD pizza. I said yes and he picked out a chicken, bacon, ranch monstrosity.

Evan was going on his first business trip last night and was feeling insecure. He lives less than 10 miles from the airport and easily could have got a taxi, but that was one more new experience than he was up to. He had asked for a ride to the airport so after the pizza I drove 30 minutes to his house, 10 minutes to the airport, and 30 minutes home again. He apologized in the car and said, "I just want to feel like I'm participating in the family, you know?" I said I did, "Sometimes we just need mommy and daddy." I tried to tell him about the hearing. He listened commented on Will's behavior, and then talked about whether he had packed too many clothes.

When I got back I again made sure I was in a place Gary would feel comfortable talking to me if he wanted. It took him about half an hour.

He told me he called his sister who is in care. He was relieved that she wasn't angry at him at all, that none of his siblings were angry with him, which surprised him since he had always been told that they all hated him. The youngest kids, the boy who had been only a couple months old and the twins who were one when he left don't remember him. His sister had found and kept some photos of him. She said that the little ones had seen them and asked who he was. She wanted to tell them, "that's your big brother" but couldn't. That was one of the moments he pulled back tears.

He wants to see her. He talked her up to me, how she is getting straight A's, how carefully she is planning for her own future. If she stays in care she will go to the top of the line for the private agency, since she is a sibling of a current kid. He told her that it was a good thing. They had money for college and really good workers. He also told her how wonderful it was to just go into a shoe store and pick out shoes based upon whether he liked them and how they fit. "I don't even look at the price." That, by the way, isn't true. Gary doesn't pick out expensive shoes. He just gets a kick out buying shoes that are $5 more than the ones that would be perfectly acceptable if they weren't ugly. Gary is easier on the clothes budget than any of the other boys were.

He said that he thinks that the agency would be good for her, that she probably won't be able to go to college if she goes home, but that he wants her to know it is okay if she goes back. She should be able to go back if she wants. He always wanted to and never was able. Gary seems to think that whether she goes home is entirely up to her. I did not dispute that. Again, he choked back tears.

He told me that he tried to call his dad, but his dad wasn't home. "I think he thinks that everything is over, like he gave me away and won't ever see me again. I wanted to tell him that just because there's this piece of paper ... that doesn't mean that ... you know."

"I know."

He struggled with the tears again. He said again that his father cried when he said goodbye. Will had told him that he didn't want this but that it was the best thing for Gary. Will wouldn't have done it if we hadn't wanted to adopt him. He wouldn't have just let him loose in the world, but if he couldn't come home then it was better this way.

Gary bounced back and forth from being sympathetic to his dad to being angry, which is normal. He assured himself that Will really didn't want to do this, that he was genuinely very sad when they said goodbye. Gary doesn't remember his father ever crying before. His dad thinks this means they can't ever talk, but that isn't true.

And then he said, "My dad said, 'I do love you, you know. I just love my wife more.' I thought, yeah, that's it. He loves me. He just never loved me enough." Gary told me that he refused to make it easier for his father. He just didn't say anything and when he father was done saying goodbye he walked away.

At one moment he told me that the TPR was his father's action. "HE did it. It was his decision and he will have to live with that. He gave away his son."

Two minutes later he was re-claiming agency, "I'm just glad that in the end this was my decision. This happened because I wanted it, whatever he thinks."

Mostly I just listened. I wanted to hold him in my lap, but seeing as he is 8 inches taller than I am, and not interested in cuddling, I didn't. He talked about his sister again, about how the worst thing about leaving home was that he couldn't watch out for his siblings anymore but now maybe he has a second chance to be a big brother like he was supposed to be. He is trying to find a time when she can visit. He would like for her to spend this evening with us. I told him that we would agree with whatever she can get permission for, and that we would provide the transportation.

He told me that he needed to see her. "She's all I have left." I didn't remind him that he had us. He knows. He was sitting with me pouring his heart out. He knows. Right now he has to mourn.

And for those of you who are wondering ... I have said that I want to be done doing care, and I do. I have also said that there are some kids I know I can't say no to, and one of those would be my son's sister ... if it is what they really need and want, if the powers-that-be decide it is good and safe for them to live together, if she doesn't go back home. So I know we would take her, but I don't know how it will work. I woke up thinking that I didn't have enough bedrooms and we already have the maximum number of cell phones on the family plan. I'm deciding not to worry about all that today. There is enough to deal with now.


  1. Anonymous9:52 AM

    bless you all. tough stuff. hugs.

  2. Just cried through that entire post. You are one of the few that just GET IT - just understand what the kids need and provide it. I can't say enough how much we need more of you. Even if none of your kids say it enough - THANK YOU.

  3. I am in awe of how amazing you are. This is truly inspirational.

  4. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Oh, Yondalla. This is heartbreaking.

    One of the things Lee has had a hard time with is accepting that Rowan clings very tightly and emotionally to mutually exclusive ideas. For me it's easier to see why that's happening and what roles the different ideas serve for him, so I don't get frustrated by the inconsistencies. I'm glad you're able to give Gary that kind of support for him in all his complexities. This is not a situation where he could have closure and certainty right now and still be a healthy person, so I'm glad he's getting the room to process what he needs through and work through his pain and all that.

    I'm glad his talk with his sister was positive. I'm glad you and he both have good (though often difficult) situations to weigh against the bad and difficult ones.

  5. This shatters my heart. As a foster parent I can empathize with these challenges. You all will be in my prayers.


  6. The mixed feelings these kids go thru when these TPRs happen is very complex. The grieving for the loss; the rejoicing for the release; and the guilt that comes from rejoicing about something they are also grieving about. All we as parents can do is support them while they work thru these emotions and from what I have read in your blogs, you do that very well.

  7. It was the sibling relationships, I should say lack of relationships, with Rosa's siblings growing up that made us try for a large group to adopt. I understand the willingness to change your life around to protect or build that bond for your child. I am hoping it works out to be the best that she comes to live with you all.

  8. I want to give Gary a big hug. I can totally understand the mutually exclusive feelings. With Jelly she both loved her parent and wanted to be with them and hated them and didn't want to ever see them again, and she was 5. To be going through this as a teenager must be so hard. It's good to hear the contact with his sister went well. I hope they can help each other feel and find their own little family within yours.


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