Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adoption & Gary's name

We finally finished last of the home study stuff ... at least the stuff that has to be done before there is a home study. We got the biographies and preferences document turned in quickly. I had to get a new birth certificate since mine disappeared, and it took a while to get the physician to fax in the medical form.

Now it is all complete... well, except that they won't have actually got the results from Roland's background check, but they know he has been finger-printed.

Now we wait for the private agency that will send a social worker to visit and interview us and then she will write the actually home study document.

And yes, that is the document that the attorney has asked to be waived. No results on that front yet. Nothing expected for a while either.

The private agency (the one I do foster care with, not the one that will do the home study) is paying the attorney directly. I don't even know how much it will cost. I just finally got an email from the appropriate person saying they had worked out something satisfactory to all parties. His fees won't cover the new birth certificates, so the agency will reimburse me for that. The agency is pleased with the attorney and "his dedication to helping young people be adopted."

People either find the adoption of 20-somethings to be wonderful, or inexplicable. We have been asked "why would you do that?" many times. It is not asked in a way I find at all offensive, they are just really curious about WHY. We explain that people need parents even when they are adults and everyone needs legal next of kin. That makes sense to them. It especially makes sense to people when they think about the gay boys who may very well not have legally recognized spouses.

My inner adult and my inner four-year-old have come to a compromise about Gary's name. The four-year-old is pout-y and thinks that Gary should want to have our last name instead of the last name of the person who abandoned him.

My inner adult understands that Gary needs to be in control of this process. He really wants a new first name (he has picked it out), and changing both names at once feels like too much. The adoption for him is, at least right now, more about separating from his family of birth than it is about being a part of our family. It's his choice.

The inner four-year-old though has come up with a plan to which the inner adult is reluctantly agreeing to. I'm trying to get everyone to use Gary's new first name now. I address him by it and I refer to him by it. I told his girlfriend and Brian that if Gary doesn't mind they should use it at school too. The idea is that by the time the adoption is being finalized he will already have adjusted to the new name and will be ready to change his last name too.

My inner adult reminds me that this is manipulative, even if I am doing what Gary wants done. I have been to Alanon enough that I should be fully away that I cannot control people. I shouldn't even try. Trying to manipulate people into doing what I want just sets me up for unrealistic expectations of others and can leave me feeling resentful. It is particularly unfortunate that I am doing this with respect to an occasion that should be joyous. My energy would be better spent coming to accept his decision rather than trying to make him change it.

My inner adult can be a moralizing pain in the butt.

But she's right.

And I am still trying to get everyone to use Gary's new name starting last week.

So there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guest Blogger Returns

A previous guest blogger is back with an update and more questions.


I wrote you a few months ago about my foster daughter who was in residential experiencing some confusion about her sexual orientation. Thought I'd write and give you an update.
K came home about a month ago. We had shared with her caseworker and GAL about our concerns that there was some inappropriate sexual behavior going on at the facility where she was staying. These concerns were expressed in court and the judge immediately ordered her to be returned to our care.
Since she has been home, K has stated that she is no longer confused and has decided she is heterosexual after all. I think K has been so starved for acceptance and friendship, she was just going along with the pressures some of the other girls at the facility were putting on her. Her GAL had told us they have had similar complaints about this facility before. But then again, we also recently found that she has once been looking at sexually explicit photos of young woman online. So maybe she is still curious.
Then last night, she asked if one of her friends could spend the night this weekend. She has told us before that this friend is lesbian. Considering what she has told us before and the knowledge that she has been looking at the photos online, we decided against overnights. We did offer that her friend was welcome to come hang out at our house, that they could plan an outing together or whatever, just no overnights for now. K took this very personally, said she is sorry now that she told us about her confusion, sorry she told us her friend was gay. She says we are holding it against her, judging her and her friend. We have tried to assure her of our love and acceptance but she isn't seeing that and just feels embarrassed and hurt.
I feel so unprepared to handle these issues. I'm so afraid I'm going to mess this up for her, make her feel ashamed of who she is and I really don't want to do that.
Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Adopt Talk

Okay, so here is the cool thing we learned from the adoption attorney. When we adopt Evan his mom will still be his mom, legally. The law doesn't say much about the relationships between adult children and their parents. What it does say however won't change. Laws regarding visitation in hospitals and inheritance, for instance, won't be changed.

At least that is here in this state.

Anyway, I was very happy to hear that, and I think the attorney was surprised (pleasantly so) that I was happy about it. It will only affect Evan, but it is a good thing. I don't want to minimize, of course, what this adoption could still mean to her. It still bothers me. I am though still committed to doing what Evan wants rather than what his mother wants.

The attorney was initially distressed to learn that three of the boys were not born in here. That just means that it will take longer to get some of the paper work processed. He did sigh with relief when he learned that none of them were born in California, where the whole process could easily take a year.

Evan is the only one who was born in my state, and his new birth certificate will be issued in 4 to 6 weeks.

I showed up with a list of the boys names, birth dates, and some other basic information. He was very pleased. I also had copies of their birth certificates ... except for David's, but he has it and lives in the area so we should be able to get it to the attorney today or tomorrow.

My birth certificate (which I don't need for the adult adoptions) wasn't where it should have been. We will need to dig deeply for that. I'll go through the same safe that Roland went through twice yesterday. Maybe he just over-looked it. If not, there a lock-box it might be in. I hope. Getting a new copy of mine will slow the home study process down horrible.

Although... the lawyer is going to petition to have the home study waived. He can't guarantee that the waiver will be granted, but he thinks there is an excellent chance. We have been foster parents in good standing for 10 years, Gary has been living with us for almost 2 years and will be 18 in a six months. Part of the rational will be that if we have to get it we might not be able to adopt him before his 18th birthday, at which point we wouldn't need it. It would be lovely if the judge grants it.

If everything goes as the attorney thinks, we could get all this done this summer.

If we have to have the home study, then it will be in the fall.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Gary Home Today

Our visit last evening with Gary was mostly very good. He was cheerful, joking about the staff and the building. At least until the psychiatrist came in at the end to talk about meds. Gary got irritable. He said that he was willing to try a medication AFTER he got out. The psychiatrist and we made a case for starting them right away so they could see if he was going to have any bad effects. Gary refused saying that if they did he would be made to stay for several more days to make sure he was stabilized. He clearly thought that by refusing to take the medication in the hospital he would get out more quickly.

He may have been right. He is, in any case, getting out today. He won't have any medications, but he will have a prescription to start.

We have an appointment with the adoption attorney late afternoon and then we will go pick up Gary. We will probably get dinner in The City and head home.

So I guess we will see what we will see.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Update on Gary's hospitalization

I spoke yesterday with the social worker (agency). She said that Gary was pretty irritated at being there, but did finally acknowledge that if he wasn't actually suicidal then he should have said things like, "I am very sad, and I would like to talk" and not things like, "I am thinking about killing myself and it is so easy I don't need a plan."

Gary apparently told her that maybe what he did was just a little bit attention-seeking. She told me she didn't respond with "Ya think?"

Don't get me wrong, we both agree that Gary is depressed and has excellent reason for being depressed. He needs more help than he is getting, and he could really, really benefit from some anti-depressants, which he is unwilling to take. We also think that this weekend was more about him yelling, "I really need some help here!" more than it was about being in danger of hurting himself.

The psychiatrist at the facility thinks that Gary is not a danger to self or others, but will keep him just a few more days to be sure. After that he will discharge Gary with recommendations for outpatient treatment. He (the psychiatrist) recommends that I encourage Gary to take anti-depressants at least as a trial. He said this as though this novel idea had not yet occurred to me. Since we were speaking over the phone he did not seem my eyes rolling.

So that is where it stands. There were no visiting hours yesterday, but there are today. I should get to see him and then probably bring him home in a day or two.

And then life will continue with this distressed young man who wants and doesn't want help.

Though this is on the extreme side, "distressed young person who wants and doesn't want help" is a fairly accurate description of what it means to be an adolescent.

They have a lot in common with two-year-olds.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Gary's Depression Deepens

Gary has been depressed. He has excellent reasons for being depressed. His parents aren't his parents any more. He is angry and hurt. There is a plan to adopt him, which is good, but is horribly stressful all by itself. He is turning 18 in six months, and this almost always a crisis for kids in foster care. Even when they KNOW they are welcome, nay WANTED, they so often feel like they are supposed to move out and turn into completely independent adults at that moment.

Then of course there is the romantic problems. He broke up with one girl because it was getting too serious and he couldn't take that. She loved him and he isn't worthy of being loved and so he had to break up with her. He was honest about it. He told her how much she meant to him and that that was why he couldn't date her any more. He really did want to be friends though.

Then he started dated her previous best friend.

According to Gary she has behaved in inexplicable ways. She apparently doesn't like him very much anymore.

She has a new boyfriend and he keeps throwing it in Gary's face that she is his and not Gary's anymore. The new boyfriend is also a douche-bag who tries to control her all the time and Gary wants better for her, but they both get upset with him when he tries to protect her. So the text messages, the MySp*ce bullying has been flying.

He doesn't sleep, because he is up all night texting people.

So he is depressed. And it has nothing to do with his parents or with this horrible boyfriend, or the girl, except it has everything to do with them.

So he texted his social worker at 4am saying he was miserable and felt like dying. He had previously promised her that he would tell her if his depression got so bad that he felt like hurting himself.

She got the text around noon and called me. He didn't want to say much, but he couldn't promise me that he would be safe, so we went to the emergency room. I expected/hoped they would talk him into taking antidepressants, at least as a trial, and I would take him home. In the first five hours in the emergency room we established:

1. It is wrong for him to take anti-depressants and he won't take then even as a trial run.
2. Yes, he does think about committing suicide. He doesn't have a plan because he doesn't need one. It isn't HARD. If he decided to do it, he will, no plan required.
3. Yes, he feels like injuring others. In fact there are two particular boys at school that he would like to beat the crap out of.
4. No, he doesn't have a PLAN for what to do if he feels like beating them up. He doesn't think he will. He has good self-control. Of course, all the martial arts training has made his reflexes almost sub-conscious and he did black out that one time when someone threatened him, so he might beat the crap out of them anyway.
5. Being admitted into the psychiatric ward is a stupid idea because it will only make him feel worse.

He had the sort of warped thinking that comes with deep depression. He would tell me that he wanted to go home and then just as I was thinking about asserting that I thought it was a good idea he would tell me something else that indicated he needed to be admitted. The third time he told someone that he wasn't sure that he could refrain from beating up these two boys at school tomorrow I knew it was over.

Since the local hospital does not have an adolescent unit he had to be transported to another facility in The City. They were inclined to transport him by ambulance. The doctor told him that there had been a situation not long ago when someone was being transported by a relative and he jumped out of the car and over a bridge on the way. The physician asked Gary if he would do anything like that.

Gary stopped to think about it, and then said, "Probably not."

At this point my dark humor side nearly lost it. I wanted to say, "Darlin' if you want to convince the nice doctor that you don't need to go to the adolescent psych unit don't tell him that you probably won't jump off a bridge on the way there."

So Gary went to the psych unit in an ambulance and we followed a bit later in the car. I had a possibly hysterical laughing fit in the car imaging what Gary might have thought was going to happen after telling people that he would only give the first names of the boys he really wanted to beat up. I imagined the doctor calling the school telling them that he had a legal obligation to warn them that Gary was a danger to two boys in the high school, but he only had their first names. But Gary didn't want to go to the hospital because he would miss school and fall behind.

Because, in Gary's current world, it makes perfect sense that he would be allowed to go to school after telling three psych professionals that he couldn't be sure he wasn't going to beat the crap out of two students.

We finally said goodbye to him seven hours after we first left for the ER. On one hand, I think he doesn't need to be there. I think he is at low risk for hurting himself or anyone else. I don't think there is anything wrong with him that could not be addressed with outpatient treatment. If he will agree to that, he could easily be out in 24-48 hours

On the other hand, he thinks he deserves to feel the way he does and so it would be contrary to his personal moral beliefs to take anti-depressants. If that continues to be his attitude, he could be there quite a bit longer.

When he was being admitted to the psych unit he did make much more reasonable statements. At that point he admitted that there were a couple of kids that he was really angry at, but he doesn't solve problems with violence. If he feels threatened he will defend himself, but that's all.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Adoption to-do lists

Gary's Adoption To-Do List:
1. get copy of driver's license
2. fill out short application, financial report, and information release form
3. make and keep appointment for criminal background check
4. ensure that Roland and Andrew make and keep appointments for criminal background check
5. have physician fill out extensive health report (ensure Roland does same)
6. write detailed auto-biography (ensure Roland does same)
7. contact four people and ask them to be references
8. contact private adoption agency that does home studies
9. meet with social worker from agency several times. Make sure she gets a chance to interview Andrew when he is home.
10. make appointment with attorney

Adult Adoptions T0-Do List:
1. make appointment with attorney