Thursday, July 4, 2013

When He's LEGALLY Mine Forever...

With a TPR trial date set for mid-September, and CPS firmly on the side of adoption by me, I'm finding myself daydreaming more and more about what it will be like if/when Bug is legally mine forever!  I have a whole tribe of "forever" kids with Monkey, Heaven, Kelly, Kama, Booger Bear, and Banana, but I'm not legally responsible for any of them, so this will be a totally new experience for me.  Lol.  :-)  I recently posted a question on my FB page asking readers who have (or will be) adopting from foster care what they were/are most excited about, and got some fantastic answers.  I decided to take some of them (along with my own) and write an A-Z Thing post listing all of the things that I am most looking forward to when Bug is legally all mine.  :-)

Accessible medications and cleaning supplies - I don't mean leaving the aspirin sitting on the couch or the bleach in the middle of the kitchen floor.  I'm totally pro-safety when it comes to things like that, but being able to get to my bottle of Tums in the middle of a dark night without having to unlock multiple locks will be heavenly!

Babysitters of my choosing - I have a couple of 17-year-olds in mind who would be excellent sitters, but my agency requires that all babysitters be over the age of 18 and background checked.  It will be so nice to be able to leave my child with anyone I deem fit without having to ask for their personal identifying information to run a criminal history check.  Background checks are great and all for scoping out potential husbands, but there's no way I would leave my child with someone I didn't know well enough to know whether or not they'd done jail time.

Calendar-free - I have already decided that I will be tossing the dayplanner and wall calendar in favor of an occasional sticky note on my fridge reminding me of an upcoming dentist appointment.  No more color-coded appointment books with notes about bio family visits.  No more having to coordinate schedules with caseworkers, attorneys, birth families, case aides, case managers, work, etc.  If Bug has a checkup, I'll just tell my mom and she can remind me.  I will officially be banning calendars from my home after those adoption papers are signed.

Days off work that don't involve CPS - I inevitably end up taking at least one day every other week off work for something CPS-related.  I honestly don't remember the last time I was able to take a day off of work that didn't involve at least one CPS-related appointment or task.  I can not wait for the day when I open my pay stub to see that I have actually accrued Paid Time Off to be able to do something wild and crazy like...  Oh, I don't know...  Go on a vacation!?!

Education how I see fit - Foster parents have no say in their children's education.  In my state, children over the age of three are required to attend public schools.  I've always dreamed of homeschooling.  While that option won't be easy for a single working mom, I want to at least have the choice.  Public school, private school, homeschool, performing arts school, underwater basket weaving university...  I don't really know!  But you'd better believe I will carefully be weighing all of my options because as a legal, forever mom...  I will have options!!!

Fearlessness - No more fear that Bug will be returned to an unsafe situation...  No more fear related to every tiny bump, bruise, and scratch...  No more fear of Monkey using Bug's new name in front of the "wrong" people...  No more fear that CPS will change their minds and try harder to place Bug with family...  No more fear...

Getting to become involved in foster care in other ways - I need a break from fostering, but I don't want a break from foster care.  Foster care means way too much to me to step away entirely.  Adopting Bug will give me the opportunity to volunteer at my agency.  I will have time to teach some of the training classes that they have been begging me to lead.  I could start a foster care/adoption ministry at my church.  I can write a book (or two or ten).  The possibilities are endless!  Foster care is most definitely where my heart is, and I plan on staying.

Haircuts when he needs them - Monkey's hair has been the bane of my existence for the past two years.  Early on, it was the "troll doll days," where he had this fuzzy mop that stood straight up on top and began to grow long over his ears.  I asked multiple times if I could just get it trimmed around his ears to no avail.  His dad teared up any time we mentioned cutting it, so I gave up and prayed that he would have it done after he went home just after his 1st birthday.  My son now sports quite an impressive mullet on occasion.  At this point, I can no longer imagine him with short hair.  But I must admit, there have been times when I've been highly tempted to let him loose with a pair of hair scissors and see what he comes up with on his own.  At 9-months-old, Bug is already beginning to develop quite a cowlick and hairy-looking ears of his own.  I am praying that we can get his adoption finalized before that first haircut is truly necessary.

Insurance - Like real, honest to goodness insurance that I have to pay for myself!  I am so over Medicaid and having to take my kiddos to doctors a half an hour away who barely look at them after waiting in the office with fifty snot-nosed kids for four hours before filling out paperwork and sending us out the door.  I can not wait for the day when Bug will get an actual age-appropriate checkup from a real pediatrician only a block away from our house!

Joining all of the "Mom" groups and signing up for "Mommy and Me" classes - Sign me up for the PTA!  Find a playgroup!  I'll even volunteer to bring the snacks three months from now...  because Bug's not going anywhere!  :-)

Keepsakes - Give me a refrigerator covered with paintings and stick figure drawings.  Give me handprint stepping stones and colorfully-painted pet rocks.  I want a ceramic coffee mug that looks like a three-legged moose and a necklace made out of macaroni.  Forget the Christmas tree that looks like it came from a department store!  Give me popcorn and cranberry garland, paper angels, and reindeer made out of clothespins.  It doesn't get any better than that!

Legally changing Bug's name - I've had a pretty good idea that Bug was going to be here to stay from very early in his case.  I also knew that I would definitely be changing his name upon adoption.  Because he was so young, and because we have so many 2-year-olds in the family who see him on a very regular basis, I decided to have my family call him by his new name so it wouldn't confuse the little ones by changing it a year later.  Bug's new name will be a combination of his current legal name and one that I chose, and I can't wait to be able to use it everywhere!

Mama, Mommy, Mom - Being Mama, Mommy, and Mom to a child who I never have to worry about being taken away and given to someone else.  My biggest fear with Monkey is that there is always the unknown of what will happen in the future.  I've been his Mama since he was two months old.  I'm his Mommy today at 2-years-old.  But what about when he's 16?  Will I get to be his Mom?  What if his dad moves away?  What if he remarries?  Monkey is as much my son in my heart as anyone could ever be, but there is always that fear that he will be taken away.  When Bug is legally mine forever, I will be finally be able to be Mama, Mommy, and Mom without that fear.

NO MORE PAPERWORK!!! - I am fairly certain this one is self explanatory to anyone who has ever fostered in my state or read my blog for any length of time.  Though to be honest, at this point I'm a little uncertain as to how to give medication without immediately writing it down.  I'm sure I'll learn.  I have faith that I am smart enough to figure it out.

Ordinary childhood for my boy - Sleepovers with friends, climbing trees, sports, sleep away camps, pool parties, bumps and bruises, family vacations, Saturday morning cuddles in Mommy's big bed while watching cartoons...  All of the things that children should be able to experience, but can't without an act of Congress if they are a foster child.

Pictures - Pictures everywhere!  Bug is stinkin' cute, and I think the entire world should be able to bask in his adorableness on a daily basis.  Believe me, you will all have more than enough of your fill of the preciousness that is my Bug the second those papers are signed!  I'm fairly certain the few people who have access to his pics right now are beginning to run out of ways to say, "He's just perfect in every way" every time they see a new photo.  :-)

Questions that don't involve me asking things like, "Did Bug smell like pot when he got back from his supervised visit with Grandma today?"  F'real.  I've asked that question more than once.  Then there's "Just how long will bio parents be incarcerated?" and "You don't expect me to take my 9-month-old through the metal detectors at the Federal Penitentiary for a visit, do you?"  I will be ever-so-happy when the most pressing question I have to ask each day is, "Did my kid poop?"

Redecorating Bug's bedroom - I'm not really sure why I've been so hesitant to change the decor in Bug's room.  Probably because the last time I decorated specifically for a child was right before Booger Bear was returned home with no warning.  I suppose there's a part of me that's hesitant to make such a major change until I know that I won't have to walk into an empty room that was decorated specifically for my little guy.  But OMG, am I dying to get in there and do up his nursery in the best "bug" themed decor that I can find!  I'm fairly certain I'll be pulling from this "Cute as a Bug" line because you know...  "Bug."  :-)

Starting an annual foster/adopt retreat with some of my foster mama BFFs - When Cherub Mamma, MamaP, and several other foster moms and I went to a mom's retreat earlier this year, it was very clear to us that we were out of place.  Our parenting experiences, our children, our struggles, and our triumphs are rarely "typical."  Over the past few months, we've been praying and brainstorming, and I can't wait until we are all in a place to be able to make our dream of a retreat for foster/adoptive moms a reality.

Telling Ka-Diva and Buddy that "Yes. Bug is ours forever!" - My 8-year-old niece and nephew have been amazing over the past 4 1/2 years that I have fostered.  They have loved every single one of my kids, and they hurt when they leave.  They are constantly asking, "Do you get to adopt him?!?"  I can not wait for the day when I can finally tell them with 100% certainty that "Yes. Bug is ours forever!"

Using my minivan for its intended carpooling purpose - Lugging Bug and his friends to football practice, loading up the back with camping gear and joining the family for a long weekend at the lake, taking a group of kids to church camp, or weekend roadtrips.  The minivan has been purchased, and it's ready and waiting for years of adventures!

Vacations without permission - Yep.  I fully intend to take Bug out of the state...  Heck!  Out of the COUNTRY even...  and not ask a single person if it's okay.  No judge's signature.  No begging his birth parents for permission.  No providing a complete itinerary to my agency, his CPS caseworker, his attorney, his birth parents' attorneys, etc.  I'm just gonna book the tickets and take him!  That's right!  I'm a rebel that way.

Watching Bug grow up - When you only foster infants and toddlers, it often seems that your children never age.  I have spent the past 4 1/2 years swimming in a constant stream of diapers, bottles, and yogurt melts.  Being able to watch Booger Bear and Monkey grow up has been such an amazing gift, and I can't wait to experience that with my baby Bug.  I'm looking forward to potty training, preschool, school plays, field trips, band, football games, graduation, college, his wedding, and grandbabies, and I pray that Monkey and Booger Bear are here every step of the way.  I am one proud Mama, Mommy, Mimi, and I love those three boys something fierce!  I can only pray that they will be able to grow up loving each other just as much as I love them.

Hopefully I'll be able to remove the star on Bug's face soon.  :-)

X-tremely large bonfire of CPS-related paperwork, binders, manuals, emergency escape floorplans, training certificates, old medication logs, recreation logs, clothing inventories, calendars, etc.  I might just toss my license in there for good measure (but probably not...  We foster parents are all big talkers when it comes to saying "we're D.O.N.E," but one middle of the night phonecall later, and we go from a family of three to a family of six by morning.)

Yearly traditions - When you foster, you live day to day.  Rarely do you have the same child(ren) with you for more than one Christmas, birthday, 4th of July...  I want to know that Bug will be here for every holiday and major event for years to come.  I want to start our own family traditions.  I want Bug to know that every Christmas Eve, we'll spend the night at Nana and Papa's house in our brand new Christmas pajamas.  I want family picnics and Sunday dinners.  I want a lifetime of memories.

Zzzzzz!!! - Sleep!  Sweet sleep!!!  I'm not sure foster parents ever really get a decent night's sleep.  We worry.  We take on our children's struggles.  We lay in bed, tossing and turning, and trying to find ways to keep our children safe.  Actually, the more that I think about it, I'm not so sure the sleep thing will ever change.  I think parents in general must lie awake at night worrying about their kids.  Goodness knows, I spend just as much time thinking about Monkey and Heaven and the kids as I do thinking about Bug.  Guess that's called being a mom...  :-)

There's so much to look forward to when Bug is legally forever mine.  I'm almost afraid to dream too big, but things are looking promising.  Maybe...  Just maybe...  I'll get my honest to goodness, no matter what, "forever" after all.

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CherubMamma said...

AWESOME post!! :)

Deb said...

I want this so badly for you. I am in tears reading these. Knowing how very special each of these will be for you and Bug.

Msmoozy said...

Great post, love this. We are in the process of adopting our 2 boys from the foster care system and it has been no easy road! Now we just wait for the final paper and the court date to finalize it all.

I wish you all the best! ~Hugs~

Carrie said...

Love this! I can so relate to feeling stuck in the same stage forever. I am enjoying my girls outgrowing my previous kiddos. I, however, am not as excited about the potty training!

Attempting Agape said...

LOVe this list! Laughed and cried a bit. Makes me want to burn some paperwork. :) I can't wait for you to celebrate that family day - it is such, such a beautiful thing to be forever. When Bug IS HOME. At your house. :)

Diane said...

Love, love, love it! I'm in your cheering section waiting for the day to come!

Laura said...

LOVE You! I am praying Tammy!!!!!

kate said...

I'm so excited for you!

This one is the most ridiculous rule I've heard. THREE??!?

In my state, children over the age of three are required to attend public schools.

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