Saturday, February 27, 2010

Opposite of Freaked

After school yesterday Roland went down to the rec room with a measuring tape. After dinner he went out to an office supply store. Later I took a deep breath and asked what he was working on.

He explained that he figured out how to rearrange the rec room so that Andrew could have a partitioned-off section for his bedroom when he was here. He wanted some sort of movable partition so that we could store it when he was gone. Of course the large sofa the boys had got at a yard sale would have to go, but the love seat he had put in our bedroom could take its place. He had also been pricing desks since I would have to have one if Gary's sister took the room I now sort of share with Andrew.

"You know that it is unlikely that she will move in, right?"


"Because Gary doesn't think he wants her to move in. The agency is really good about making sure siblings have regular contact even if they don't live together. If Gary thinks it would be too much stress, they find a different home for her."

"Oh, right now he's just feeling overwhelmed!"

Um ... I don't know what to say.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gary's Sister (update x 2)

So, anyone want to blog-name Gary's sister? She is fifteen or sixteen, interested in a medical career, reportedly does well in school, and reportedly has been "difficult to control." If I stick with my naming patterns she would either get a G-name or an H-name.

I just got a call from the state worker. For those who don't remember, this worker specifically works with teenagers who are expected to age out of the system. That doesn't mean that none of the kids he works with are ever reunited, just that they are not expected to. Will had a lie-detector interview yesterday and a lot apparently rides on the results of that. State worker doesn't know the results, but pending the outcome, Gary's sister will be assigned to him next week.

So here's the deal. I had one conversation with the state worker who asked if it was the case that Gary was interested in meeting with his sister. I said yes. The worker felt that since there had at one time been an order that Gary not have contact with his family that it would be wise for the first visit to be supervised so that he could write something in the file saying it seems safe to him. He can't supervise a visit until early next week. He said though that if the sister should be suddenly going home, he will cancel other appointments to make sure they get one face-to-face before then. Gary will be disappointed.

Half an hour later he called back. He had been talking to the sister's foster dad. "So, Gary and his sister talked last night?"

"Yeah, for a while."

"The foster dad said something about her coming to your house."

"Well, that is what Gary wanted. We were going to pick her up. Gary thought they would play Halo or something, and then she might go to his Judo class because she says she is interested in martial arts."

"I see. The foster dad wasn't talking about a visit. He was talking about placement. Is that something you are thinking about?"

Oh golly.

"Well, I haven't even talked to Roland about that. I can tell you just for me that though I've been saying that I want to be done doing care, I also know that there are some kids I can't say no to, and that probably includes Gary's sister. But there is a lot to work out. All my bedrooms are claimed ... one is claimed by a boy in college, but he still expects to have a place to sleep when he comes home, and well ... I think everyone would have to talk about this and Roland and I haven't talked about it at all."

He understood. I told him that when Gary was talking to me I felt like the question was "hanging in the air" but I didn't vocalize it because, again, I hadn't talked to Roland yet. I also didn't think that any decisions should be made until they spent some time together and everyone had a chance to figure out whether they would be best living together or just seeing each other regularly. I also reminded him that I don't have a state license and that I know she would be fast tracked into the agency, but there was no way she could come live here until she was in.

Apparently foster dad thought she might be moving in today.

Anyway, the state worker understands. He will talk to the foster dad and let him know that living with us is a possibility, but not something that she should plan on. He said that he wouldn't even count this conversation as an official discussion about the possibility of placement.

We can do that next week.

Roland is going to freak.


Gary came home from school. I told him about the supervised visit. He's upset. He doesn't want to have to meet her in a coffee shop or something. They need something to DO. I told him to ask the state worker if they visit could be in our living room so they could play video games here. Whatever they work out will be fine with me.

I also asked him if he wanted us to consider having his sister live here. He said that he thought about it, but he doesn't think so. There was enough hesitancy in his voice that I wasn't sure that was what he wanted or what he thought we would want. So I went on. "If you want to keep thinking about it, that's okay. I figure when Andrew is home we would probably curtain off part of the rec room so it would be his room when he was here. We could do it. I'm not asking if you want to DO it, I just want to know if you want us to keep it open as a possibility."

He pondered for a minute and then said that yes, we should keep it open. He isn't ready though to decide if he wants to live with her until after he at least meets with her.

He's tired. Dark circles, the whole nine yards. He said he was tired of talking about it. Everyone kept wanting him to talk about it. Then he got a text message and muttered "I DON'T want to talk about it" while responding.

***2nd update***

So Roland didn't freak, much. I didn't ask, I told. And I talked fast. I explained that I wanted us to be OPEN to the POSSIBILITY that placement here was the best thing for both of them. He pointed out that whenever we have had new placements we have gone through a process of decision. I assured him that I was committed to the process, and really didn't know if this would be best for everyone. I just wanted to be open to the possibility. He agreed.

Gary walked in while we were talking and said that he thinks that her living her could quite possibly mess up his life in a major way. He had so much to deal with and adding living with her to the mix! Ug. Besides, she should stay in the same school system and have at least that much stability.

So I will tell the state worker that the private agency people are the ones that handle placement decisions, so he doesn't have to worry about it. Then I will tell the agency people that Roland and I are open to the possibility but that right now it doesn't look like it is what Gary wants.

Once again ... this is a problem I am deciding not to worry about for a while.

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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Hearing Over


So "Will," Gary's father, showed up. Gary, the agency social worker and I were all sitting on the pew (really, it had holders for hymnals in the back) in the hallway when Will appeared. He stood in front of Gary and asked him if he was prepared to deal with his stepmother. "She didn't expect to see you here and she's upset. Is there anything you want to say to her? No? What do you mean no? This is your chance, and you don't want to say anything?"

The agency worker, thank God, said that this was probably a conversation best had in a different setting, perhaps with a mediator. Will agreed, but said that he was disappointed in Gary's attitude. Then he sat down on the other end of the pew and asked a few questions about whether Gary was involved in anything extra-curricular, doing well in school, etc. I fielded those questions, telling Will how wonderful Gary was doing. We finally managed to separate into separate conversational groups.

We sat there for one hour.

Yes, one entire hour, on a wooden pew, in a hallway, 5 feet from the man who blames Gary for everything.

Finally we got to go into the courtroom. We learned that Will had already signed a form giving unconditional consent to the termination. After some discussion, the judge asked the Will if he wanted the courtroom cleared while they talked about it to make sure Will understood everything. Will did, so we all left the judge, Will, state social worker, GAL, and lawyers in the room.

After about 10 minutes Will came out and asked Gary to walk with him to the exit. We told Gary it was up to him. Gary went and came back trying not to cry.

The social worker and Gary both report that Will told them that he (Will) did not want to do this but knew that Gary could never come home and so agreed that this was in Gary's best interests.

Will is most certainly not taking responsibility for anything, but he is not fighting the TPR.

I told Gary he could have anything he wanted tonight. If he were older I would buy him beer. If he liked chocolate I would buy a gallons. If he wants to go to the Y and punch something, that can be arranged.

Right now he is out with the agency social worker, with whom he has a really good relationship, getting something to eat and talking.

My head hurts.

Something died today. An hour ago Gary stopped having a father.


The worker just brought him back. Gary's been crying. I'm about ready for a good cry myself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hearing Rescheduled

So this afternoon was to be the TPR hearing. It was going to address both parents. Gary has been anxious about it. I told students that I would be unavailable to help them on their papers even though they are due at the end of the week. Roland arranged to leave work early. Agency worker made plans to pick Gary up at school for lunch and then to the court.

And did I mention that Gary has been stressed?

If I ask him if he is okay, he says he is fine, but he doesn't look fine. He looks like he hasn't had a good night's sleep in a week.

Yesterday I got an email from the state worker telling me that because of Will's (Gary's father) new involvement with DSS, they have a good address for him. So the state worker will be sending Will a letter. Future tense. As in had not yet sent the letter even though it was the day before the hearing. So I emailed back asking how that could be possible. Had the hearing been rescheduled?

This morning I got a call from the agency worker saying she had JUST been told that the hearing today was vacated. A hearing on his father's rights will be next week and a hearing on his mother's will be at the end of March. She wanted to know if anyone had told me. I said no.

Three hours before the hearing I got an email from the state worker telling me that he just called someone or other and confirmed that the hearing for today has been vacated.

Uh huh, that's his way of avoiding confessing that he should have told me about this a week ago.

I am so very glad I don't have to work with the state very often.

I have this whole email that I am writing in my head. I'm not sure if it will be to the social worker and copied to his supervisor or the other way around. I have various versions of it, some nicer than others. An hour ago I decided not to send it until I had an hour to cool down, which hasn't helped. Now I've decided that I am going to wait until I get home and check the unopened mail and the phone answering machine.

I'm pretty sure there won't be anything because the state worker always communicates with me by email, but I will check.

Did I say that I was angry? I'm stressed. We all thought there was a very good chance that it would be finished today. Now it will be another six weeks minimum.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gary's Sibs

Some of my posts are carefully written. A few are just fact recording, and others are just jumbles. I think this is in the latter category.

The state social worker called last night. Gary's sister, the one who is a year younger than he born when their parents were still married and looks so much like their father (previously blogged-named "Will"), is now in care.

All I know is that she revealed something to a social worker. Will found out, and beat her "pretty badly." She is sixteen. It is too early for there to be a permanency plan, but if she is likely to stay in care she will be top priority for getting into the private agency Gary is in. They do that with siblings. They often don't place them together, in this case they certainly wouldn't, but communication/visits is facilitated when they have social workers who have offices next to each other. It would be a comfort for Gary too knowing that his sister is in the best possible place.

She will have the same problems with kinship placement that Gary did, namely, there is no one fit and willing. Gary is worried for the younger children. There are two younger step-sisters and three half siblings. He was figuring out what relatives they have and hoping they were with them.

It makes me nauseous. Gary is trying to process it. The social worker called because sister-in-care wants to see him. According to the worker she was very excited about it. Gary is wary. The very limited contact he has had has not gone well. He was worried about her being hurtful to him, angry, blaming him somehow for everything. That of course has been his experience in the family -- the only one who has been held accountable for anything, the one everyone blames. That this sister said she could not confirm any of the reports G made against his abusers doesn't help either.

I suggested that maybe she needs to see him because now she is without family too and could really use a big brother who has been in the system and can help her understand and cope. That was a role he seemed more willing to play, but was not confident that was what she wanted.

So he called the agency worker. All the kids have the workers cell phones. We parents are encouraged to call the office phone off-hours and get the message service to get us the on-call worker. My kids' workers have always been happy to take my kids calls 24/7. Of course, they rarely call. The agency worker said that she would get all the information she could for him, hopefully today. She would even see if she could meet with the sister. She confirmed that siblings in care are usually brought into the agency quickly if that is appropriate.

My first thought, as was probably yours, was whether we should take her too. Given the tensions and the total lack of contact for six years, no one is going to support that right now. They will want to help the two of them have as much contact as they want. She's sixteen. I can see scenarios in which she ends up with us, but I would not expect anyone to ask us to do, or agree if we asked, any time soon.

Of course for Gary this comes at a rough emotional time. We anticipate the TPR being granted next week. The chance that his mother, whom no one has been able to find for the past year, was going to show up seemed far from likely. No one expected his father, though it was possible. Now though, it is hard to imagine the judge not granting it given what has happened. Gary had been thinking about the TPR as cutting off his relationship to the entire family. That his sister is in care and wants to see him, is threatening that understanding of what is happening.

That his father is being charged and held accountable by the state seems right and good to him. That all the children might get out of that house also seems right and good.

He looked pretty exhausted this morning. I expect he was up most of the night, texting his friends.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Updating the Blog Notification Box

It's been a while, so if you know of foster care blogs whose new posts don't appear in the notification box on the right, please let me know.

If it is your blog, don't be shy about giving me the address.

I can't promise I will start reading new blogs. I've become so busy I am not keeping up with any blogs. I do however want to help people interested in foster care to find each other.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thinking about the process

Yesterday's post was written quickly, right after the hearing and before Roland and I left for another appointment. I wanted to get down what happened before it became foggy in my mind. I wanted to remember. I also wanted to express a frustration with a system that kept mis-representing what we said. There wasn't a whole lot of reflection though.

I want to add something to the dry accounting of facts though. The state social worker who was there was not smarter or nicer than the regular one. She is the regular social worker's supervisor. My guess is that she is the one who said something like, "If they aren't planning on adopting before he is 18, is it really a good idea to spend all this money?" (The expensive part is what they have to do in a different state given that all mail to his mother has come back as undeliverable.) She was also the person who was able to listen to our reason and had the authority to reverse the decision. I am so very happy that she was there. So in two weeks there should be a TPR hearing. The consensus is that neither parent will have responded and the TPR will be granted at that time. Other outcomes are possible, of course.

I continue to feel unexpectedly relieved and Gary continues to feel empowered.

I know I said it in yesterday's post, but I really do feel the way I think I would if we just had a family meeting and decided that it was time to turn off the life support of a family member who had been in a terrible accident and been in a coma for months. On one hand this isn't the way the world was supposed to be. My made-up relative wasn't supposed to be in a terrible accident. Gary's parents were supposed to be able to take care of him themselves. In the world I imagine, this would not be happening. But in this world, where what has happened has happened, we are doing the right thing. We are letting go. There will be an end to the limbo, the waiting, this particular betwixt and between state. The next stage is mourning, which is has it should be.

And Gary is feeling empowered. I hate that word. I try never to use it because it is so over-used, but this time it is the right word. He no longer sees himself as the abandoned child. He is the actor, the decider. In his re-telling of the hearing last night he was the central character. If he hadn't been there it all might have happened differently. The judge made the decision because HE said it was what he wanted.

Suddenly he does want to come to the TPR hearing. He wants to be able to speak. Right now at least, he almost wants his father to show up so he can tell him to his face that it is too late. Gary has the power, not his dad.

As the once-adolescent child of an alcoholic I understand this so well. I imagined the same thing in my teens and twenties. I often wanted to tell people that my father wasn't really my FATHER. I wanted to cut him out of my life. I was jealous of my mother and the lack of guilt she had about divorcing him. He just wasn't part of her life anymore. She just didn't have to think about him and she didn't have to feel guilty for not thinking about him. I wanted to be able to make some grand gesture and have it all be over. After that there would be no pain. I would not debate whether to allow my children to have time with him, whether to allow him to visit or to visit him. It would all be over.

As the adult child of an alcoholic I know it wouldn't have worked out like that and it almost certainly will not work out that way for Gary. Our relationships with people who raised us and failed us is part of who we are. Even if they die, the effects they have had on our lives remain. I am not saying that we never get over it, or maybe I am. The pain comes back at odd moments, but it lessens, becomes more manageable and ceases to define our lives.

And I don't think the TPR is going to make as much of a difference to Gary's emotional journey as he thinks it will, but it is important none-the-less.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

On off and on again

Okay... here's the scoop on the TPR process for Gary.

August: Gary's dad calls Gary, says unkind things including that he (dad) wants to terminate his parental rights.

Shortly there after state social worker (SSW) visits and asks what everyone thinks about TPR and adoption. We tell him that we are absolutely interested in adopting Gary if that is what he wants. Gary says he does, probably when he is done with high school.

September: Court changes case plan from long-term foster care (or whatever it said) to termination and adoption.

People scurry. SSW writes and files documents. Lawyers attempt to contact Gary's parents. All mailings to the mother come back as undeliverable. Attempts to find more current address fail. Everything sent to his father apparently falls into a black hole. There is no response. Notice is put in the newspaper of the father's most recent residence. Department prepares to put notices in the papers of the last known addresses of the mother. Permanency hearing dates are scheduled and are weeks away.

Then I get a phone call from the SSW worker who seems to have suddenly realized that Gary doesn't want to be adopted before he is 18. SSW mentions how expensive it will be to do the notices in the paper for the mother. Says that the department does not think it is important to do TPR if he won't be adopted before then. In fact they have a policy against making teenagers legal orphans if there is no adoption plan.

I tell him that the plan is to adopt Gary when he finishes high school.*

SSW tells me that he will write in the document that Gary is clear about wanting the TPR but is ambivalent about adoption so the department with withdrawal the petition for TPR. I try to clarify.

Agency social worker writes in her report that Gary has expressed a clear desire to "divorce his parents" and be adopted after high school. Though the TPR is not legally necessary for his eventual adoption, it is psychologically important to Gary.

Social worker files a petition (or whatever) telling the court that based upon Gary's ambivalence about being adopted, they will no longer be seeking TPR.

Okay, now we are up to this week.

I talked to my family lawyer friend who says that standard practice is to seek parental consent for adult adoptions when there has been no TPR.

Today there was a different state worker, one who does not seem to have difficulty understanding simple declarative sentences. I explain what the lawyer said and that I would like for the TPR determination to go forward. She checks with Gary and agency to see if they agree. They affirm that is what they have been saying all along. She says she will explain that to the lawyer.

We enter the court. There is a new judge, younger, more formal. He reviews the status of the case saying that his report from the department is that everyone, including the agency and Gary, have changed their minds about the adoption plan and so the department is withdrawing the petition for TPR. He asks Gary if he has anything to add. Gary states that he does want to correct the record. He does want the TPR to happen although he doesn't want to be adopted until after he is 18. The judge is clearly listening. This is important to him.

The judge asks if Roland and I have anything to add. I say, "Yes, your honor. We are in the process of adopting our older children from foster care. The family lawyer has told me that standard practice is to seek parental consent if there has not been a TPR. Since we plan on adopting Gary when he is ready, I favor the TPR." (Okay, I might not have been that eloquent, but that is how I remember it.)

The judge asks the state worker what she thinks. She says that they are in favor termination and adoption as the plan for Gary. There change was based upon a mis-understanding of what the family and Gary wanted. (Yeah, right). Given what we have said, she would like to re-instate (or not withdrawal or whatever) the petition.

The judge asks the GAL. She reports that this is not her case but that the previous GAL favored termination.

So it is back on. Judge asks if there is any reason why there have been two hearings scheduled for the TPR. No one has any reason. He confirms with everyone that all attempts to contact the parents so far have had no results. So he consolidates the hearings. In two weeks the court will consider the termination of both parents' rights.

And I feel like a weight has lifted, like we have decided that someone who has been sick for along time will be allowed to die. It is sad. I may wish that many things were different, but this the right thing to do. It is what is best for everyone else. It is time to let go.

On the way home Gary told me happily about that this means that he doesn't have to feel guilty about them or anything. They aren't going to be his parents and it just doesn't matter what they think ever again. He says, "And it will because of something *I* did. I decided, not them."

I think to myself that it is not going to be that simple for him, but I get it.

* Note: Gary will tell you "when after I turn 18." He also has a plan in which he finishes high school within a month of turning 18. If you can get him to consider the possibility that it might take longer to graduate, he will tell you that he wants to be adopted after that. It isn't really about his age. It is about him wanting to continue to receive full support from the agency for as long as he would have in any case. He LIKES his agency social worker.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Guest Post: Adopting Teens?

I have another email that I have permission to post for your guidance and wisdom!

Hi Yondalla,
I just stumbled onto your blog today, although I guess "stumbling" isn't quite accurate because I was doing an internet search on "adopting teenagers" and your blog naturally fell into that category. I hope you don't mind me asking for some advice.
I'm 50 y.o., my husband is 54, we have two daughters ages 23 and 18, the oldest graduated college last year and is living in another state and the youngest just started college and is close by. To my surprise I did not suffer from empty nest syndrome as I expected to. In fact, I found that I enjoy having the house to myself when I get home from work, cooking just one dinner instead of something for my husband (who is trying to lose weight) and something else for my daughter (who would like something more substanial, please...) starting some new hobbies and having the freedome to travel...well, you probably get the picture.
Then, somehow, I started reading about the foster kids who are awaiting adoption (I don't even remember how it started) and soon became fixated on the idea of taking one of these kids into our family. I finally got up the nerve to broach the subject with my husband this weekend and he wasn't quite as freaked out by the idea as I thought he might be, but I'm not sure at this point that he will ever be able to commit to it.
Anyway, what I'd like is someone with experience to answer some questions since I don't feel like I can start even the beginning process (where I might get those answers from the adoption professionals) until/unless my husband comes on board. Also, I've found posting questions on message boards on a topic with which one is unfamiliar, puts you in the bullseye for often harsh criticism from people "in the know".
First, these are my reasons for wanting to do this:
1) There are kids who will never have a family unless someone adopts them, and providing a family is something I feel we have the resources to do
2) I like teenagers! I know, it surprised me, but i found that to be my favorite parenting age. I liked my own kids and I liked their friends and I feel like I could do "just one more".
3) I think it would be nice for my girls to have a brother; as the youngest of 5 girls I always kind of wished I'd had a brother.
4) It's a good thing to do; whether it turned out as rewarding and fun as my fantasies, or was more difficult than I expected, I don't think I could ever say it was a bad idea...unless, I suppose, if things went horribly tragically wrong.
Here are my questions:
1) Is it OK to be choosy? I feel guilty even asking that, or running through the mental list of what I would ask for if being choosy, but realistically I would want the one child who would fit most perfectly in our family and who could best benefit from what we could offer.
For one thing, I think I would like a boy; ideally 14-16; and for reasons I can't even figure out myself (we are white) I am more drawn to the African-American kids whose profiles I have seen. I don't think we would be the best fit for kids with serious mental or emotional issues, but think we could be great for that kid who just needs a supportive family and has the motivation and desire to work toward his future. A kid who wants to go to college would be best, only because we have the means and knowledge to assist him with that, but I wouldn't rule out a kid who has the desire to learn a trade or enter the military. A kid who would be willing to move to another state, and while I would not have a problem supporting his ties to a birth or foster family, it would be better if those ties were not so strong as to prevent him becoming bonded to our family or require frequent in-person visits.
Is that a lot to ask? Am I being unrealistic and/or naive? Will I be drummed out of an adoption agency if I go in with those kinds of restrictions?
Anyway, I appreciate you at least reading this, it gave me something to do with all of these thoughts while I wait for my husband to think about this. If you have any answers or advice, it would be greatly appreciated.

Adult Adoption Progress

So... adoption news. It's not much, but it is something.

I have received an update on the agency. It appears that they won't just pay their lawyer to do it, which they would if the boys were still in the program. However, they are doing some investigation into how much it costs and then will probably offer to reimburse me for some of the expense. We will do it anyway, but I am happy to accept help if they want to give it. Given that the boys are actually men in their twenties, I'm fairly confident that there is no tax benefit involved.

I emailed my family lawyer friend who does adoptions. She is the one will will hire if things go the way I expect with the agency. I did learn a few interesting things.

Standard practice, at least in the court that includes The City, is to require permission of living biological parents whose rights have not been terminated. She would like to tell me that that is the practice in my county, but she will make no predictions. Judges here have a reputation for being lax about such things as court room procedure and just about anything else not spelled out in the law. Still, I can tell Evan that it is standard practice, though not legally required, and therefore I can only adopt him if his mother gives her permission. She won't, which is half the reason I didn't want to do it anyway. The other half is that she is part of his life. I don't know if we would need her permission for Roland to adopt him. I hope not. I try not to say bad things about my children's parents, but she has a past pattern of manipulative behavior. I think it would be very unlikely to get her to actually agree as long as saying that she MIGHT agree would give her power over anyone.

Anyway, though I think Evan might be disappointed that I can't adopt him, I am relieved. To be clear, I would love to be his mother if he didn't already have one. If the law/standard practice allowed me to adopt him without his mother's permission I know that ultimately I would not be able to say no to him. I was hoping to persuade him that it was a bad idea.

That won't be an issue for the other two boys. Carl has a father who is probably still alive, and probably lives somewhere in North or Central America. I am hoping that standard practice includes not requiring permission from parents who haven't been heard from in 17 years.

Given this, I think I will talk to the state social worker about pursuing termination on Gary's father. It looks like it will make the adoption quite a bit easier later. I don't know if they will agree, but it is worth asking. If they say no, I will ask if I can have a report of everything that they did in their attempts to get his parents to respond to the TPR notice, or anything.