It’s Official

Update, 6/17 @ 2pm CDT: Just found out that details for the move are taking more time than planned (why am I not surprised?). For sure, it won’t be this weekend.  We should find out a move date on Monday, June 21 (and the move itself will be within two weeks from then). So we get at least one more weekend to love on Little Man! 🙂  Happy Father’s Day to all (for real this time)!

Just a quick blog land update on the status of today’s hearing in regards to Little Man’s future.  It is official, he is going to transition (nice euphemism) to birth family, soon.  We will find out tomorrow the details of the logistics.

I must confess at this point this all feels rather anti-climactic, which may be a blessing actually.  I think discovering in March that this relative existed and wanted Little Man was the big shocker.  Proceedings today at the courthouse went exactly like I thought they would.

And since most, if not all of you, have thankfully never experienced this type of court, I’ll tell you a little about it.  It has absolutely no resemblance to “Law and Order.”  They call the docket at 9am and then the judge disappears for 30 minutes to an hour or more.  Then they return to the bench and begin to call cases.  Half of the docket is sent to the associate judge across the hall (one sign of how overwhelmed this system really is).  As each case is called, the parties approach the bench, get sworn in, and conduct all their business and testimony in a semi-circle in front of the judge.  The court reporter takes notes but more often than not it is not an actual trial like you see on TV.  The gallery can not usually hear all of what’s going on (but if you’re a careful listener you can often get the gist).  Occasionally they call an actual trial and then its exactly like “Law and Order.”  They break for an hour plus just before noon and after lunch its more of the same.  We always seem to get called at 2:30 in the afternoon, so there is a lot of hurry up and wait – on very hard benches.

I must confess, I’ve seen and heard a lot over the last eight months.  There was the birth father at the CPS office for a visit with his child with the “king of pimpin” t-shirt (classic!).  There was the mom today who asked a random CPS case worker if she thought she’d get her kid back by doing the court mandated in-patient drug rehab (for coke and pot) cause if she wasn’t gonna get her kid back, why should she bother.  Those are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  There is an awful lot of sadness out there in our world, and most unfortunately, you rarely have to look very far or very hard to see it.

It makes me truly greatful for the family I have and the way we were raised.  And it humbles me to think that we were entrusted with Little Man, if only for eight months.  They have been a beautiful eight months.  He is a treasure and although this is not how we wanted this story to end, we pray this isn’t the final chapter of his role in our lives.  Only time will tell.

In the mean time, we’ll get through this last week or two and probably hop a plane for a real vacation, just the two of us…well James will come along for the ride 😉 …and then we’ll come home and tackle those house projects that have been waiting for attention and before you know it, it will be mid-September and the next chapter in our adventure will begin.  And while James won’t take the place of Little Man, it is a comfort and blessing to have something to look forward to.  And I guess now we’re a little more ready, cause we’ve done this before – and recently enough (and well document enough) to remember what worked and what didn’t.

That’s all for tonight.

Coping, Part 2: Reality

So the previous post, was our abstract thinking on fostering without adopting.  Today’s is more the where we are today, with the knowledge that our Little Man is not really ours forever.

Here is the skinny.  We found out in March that a member of his birth family was going through the process (home study, investigation, etc.) to be able to assume permanent guardianship of him.  More recently, we learned this persons application has been approved, so the process is moving quite quickly now.  We expect that Little Man will transition to his new home in just a few weeks.

So where does that leave us? I won’t lie. It’s brutal. We love our Little Man.  We’d keep him forever if we could.  But that is not our decision nor is it in our control.

The range of emotions include frustration, sadness, anger (at the situation), overwhelming love, and devastating loss…and a desire to squeeze every last drop of life and love into the few weeks we have left.  We also wonder, did we do the right thing – for him, for us, for our sanity? (answers: for him – absolutely!, for us – we wouldn’t trade this time with him for anything, for our sanity – we’ll see…)

Mostly I rationalize and compartmentalize. I don’t have the luxury of time right now to dwell on being sad.  We’ve got memories to make, smiles to cherish, and tons and tons of giggles to get out.  Little Man needs us at our best and nothing else will do.

At the urging of my friend who has fostered seven kiddos, I’m also doing what I can to “prepare.” I’ve worked on his “life book,” which is part baby book, part photo album, so that it is as up to date as it can be (and am working towards getting all the photos in one place so I can burn them quickly to a DVD to send along).  I have made lists of what clothes and toys need to get packed to send with him and I have packed what I can (Christmas stocking, Easter basket, etc.). I have made play lists of our favorite things to listen to. And I have made a “day in the life” guide, that tells pretty much everything about him you’d ever need to know from what he eats to what type of diapers he wears.

I’ve also borrowed a video camera from friends so I can capture a little of his essence for us for posterity, so we can smile someday when we recall his smiles and chatter. I’m guessing this will work in much the same way as it has when I recall Dad…it took a while to think of him without bawling, but now (mostly) I can laugh, smile, and chat about him without the heavy heart.

And we also have the knowledge of knowing that when God closes this door for us, he has already opened another in James.  That is not to say that we can or will substitute one for another.  It doesn’t work that way.  Little Man will always be our first born, and will always have a huge space in our hearts (and in our home again, should that need ever arise).  But having something truly miraculous to look forward to dulls some of the pain and sadness.  Like Little Man, James can’t have mopey, depressed parents.

So where do we go from here? That’s a great question.  After Little Man transitions to his new home, we will take a break.  We’ll have a couple months to decompress, recalibrate, and get ready for James.  We’d like to take a vacation, since it was so hard to travel with Little Man.  (I don’t think I’ve been on a plane in almost a year!)  Then we’ll take a while to settle James in.  We are, however, doing the necessary training hours to keep up our foster license.  And we’ll figure out in  the new year, what to do next.  There are lots of things to weigh there too…but that is a post for another day.