sooner, rather than later.
Okay, let me back up.
Yesterday he had a 10:00am meeting with his sister, "Helen," the state worker (who will be hers if/when reunification is no longer the official case goal), and his agency worker. Gary said the meeting went okay, but it was awkward because they didn't have a lot to say to each other and Gary wanted to talk to both of them about HIS case. He did report that the plan with his sister is what is called "concurrent planning." In other words, Will be given a list of things he has to do, which the social worker predicts he will not do.
Will, by the way, wants Helen out of foster care and then into Job Corps. He is pretty clear that he does not want her to live with him, his wife, and the younger children. Basically, he wants what he wanted with Gary: not to have to live with the teen and have everyone agree that the necessity for that is based upon the teen's behavior, not his. He isn't going to get away with it this time.
Anyway, Gary told the workers that he has been thinking about the adoption and he has decided that it would be better to do it before he graduates, instead of after. He told them that the main reason he wanted to wait was so that he would not be a financial burden to us. We have assured him multiple times that that is not the case. I have believed that the not wanting to be a burden is in part cover for not being done mourning his first family and not being ready for adoption. Anyway, he asked the workers if there was anyway that we might be able to continue to receive support for him until he graduates. The agency worker said they are working on the details of their post-adoption support plan and will get back to me.
So, it looks very likely that Gary will get adopted the spring with the older boys.
When I was talking with Gary later he said that one of the reasons he wanted to be adopted earlier was so that he could get his name changed before he graduated, got a driver's license, a credit history, etc. This is just a good time to do that.
As for his name, he hates his first name, and likes his his current middle name. He has picked out a new name he likes, he just doesn't know if he wants to be NewName CurrentMiddleName, or the other way around. He does want to keep the same last name. "Changing both would just be too much of an identity crisis."
I think I did a decent job at hiding my disappointment. I didn't realize how much it meant to me until both Carl and David told me they were going to change their last names. Evan would change his, but he has complex feelings about his mother and wants to show his respect for his father who died when he was small. When David and Carl said that they wanted to change their names, I got choked up. They understand the adoption and becoming part of our family. They want that. They want for me to be their legal mom.
For Gary, I think, right now it isn't about becoming part of our family. I think it is about another step in separating himself from Will. It is about him claiming a new identity and a new name. It isn't really about claiming a relationship with us. We are just part of the deal.
And I get that. It seems developmentally appropriate. It is exactly where Gary should be right now. Expecting him to be forming deep attachments to us just when most of his energy is going to how he will life when he moves out in January 2011 (his time table), is unrealistic. He is seventeen, finishing with high school, and his life is all about becoming his own person. Right now, it is safer to keep his current last name.
I confess that I hope he changes his mind somewhere during the process.
I started to edit that sentence to say "I confess I will be happy if he changes his mind" but the first version is true. I believe that it should be his decision and that he should do what he wants and what is best for him. I think this should NOT be about my needs and desires. However, I find that though I can acknowledge that my desires are not supposed to determine the outcome, they still exist. I want Gary to want us as much as we want him.
I remind myself that David definitely did not want us when he lived with us. Keeping emotional distance was very important for him. NOW, at 23 he wants to be part of the family. I hope, even expect, that over time Gary will attach more deeply to us. I also know that will happen best, perhaps only if, we let it happen at his pace.
But it still made me feel like pouting.
Of course I am cutting myself some emotional slack because Roland just left to spend 6 days with his parents meaning I am doing the single parent thing. Also the world of Brian has got more stressful recently. I will write about that eventually, but it is not part of this post. Suffice it to say that I was already fighting melancholia when Gary said he wanted to keep his current last name and I had to take a deep breath before I gave the appropriate response, "That makes sense, and of course what name you pick is entirely your decision."
Anyway, that he wants to be adopted now instead of in a year is wonderful and it made me very happy to hear it. Please understand that the post is mostly about the name thing because this is the only place where I can vent that. I have lots and lots of places where I can express my joy about the adoption itself.
In related news, Gary reported that Helen's foster family is interested in adopting her. At first I accepted that at face value, but I have since reconsidered. It certainly could be true. I hope it is true. On the other hand, this is the girl who told her foster father that she was going to be moving in with us. That she reported that HER foster parents wanted to adopt her during a lunch when her older brother was talking about being adopted, may reflect wishful thinking.
We will see.