Holding My Breath

Does adoption ever feel like it’s actually happening, until it does? My file has been active again for a few months now and I finally (FINALLY!!), after three years, have a match! For the past few weeks since I’ve known about it, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath… not quite believing that this is actually happening.

I’m going through the motions… gathering information, asking questions, talking to the schools, transforming the guest room… but all the while my head is spinning in a thousand different directions and it hasn’t really “sunk in” yet. I have this fear that the second I finally exhale, someone will tell me this whole thing was just a sick joke and it will feel like a punch in the gut.

Sometimes I manage to break down my walls and allow myself to feel excited, but most days I feel like I’m going to throw up. It sounds a little like pregnancy, no?

Posted By: Sarah

My Amazing Summer Experience Providing Respite Care

“God laughs when we make plans.” That’s a saying that’s been going through my head a lot over these past several months. Thankfully, I’m somewhat of an eternal optimist and I believe that when one door closes, even temporarily, another one opens; and opened, it did!

I’ve been dabbling in respite care since the spring, and in June I was given an opportunity to house a teenage girl for the summer. I must admit, I was hesitant at first having only done respite on weekends in the past. An entire summer was a lot of parenting to take on, and teenagers… well, teenagers.

As it turns out, we both made it through the summer without any permanent scars, and a little bit wiser. We had our challenges; opportunities for consequences and growth on both our parts, but in the end we were better for it. I’m actually not sure who learned more this summer, her or me, but I’m betting on the latter. I seem to recall telling my home study writer while discussing my adoption age range that “teenage girls have problems I haven’t even figured out yet!”, so I thought that parenting a seventeen year old girl was way out of my league!

She and I had conversations about everything from curfew and chores to boys, parties and alcohol to graduation and university. I gained a lot of confidence in myself as a parent; I eventually stopped second guessing myself when making decisions and learned that it was okay if she didn’t like all of the rules or some of her chores. We had a few tough talks, but far more positive ones. We spent a lot of evenings curled up, talking about all the tough stuff in life. I gave some (pretty decent) guidance when she asked for it, and just listened when she needed to vent. We also had a lot of fun together. We tried out colouring as a form of stress relief, she got to know my family during our regular family dinners, I watched numerous fashion shows as she tried on everything in her closet, and we capped the weekends off by curling up in my bed for “Bachelor TV Sunday’s”. We now share some inside jokes, like her obsession with chocolate Lucky Charms cereal and one of the Bachelor participant’s use of the phrase “straight Kentucky crazy”.

This morning, when we were packing her things, she asked me to come to her graduation next year, and I could barely hold in how touched I was. We shared a lot of tears and hugs as we said our goodbye’s, and if I’m being honest, I’ve shed more than a few since she left. (God bless foster parents, I don’t know how they do it!)

This experience has been one in a lifetime. I’m so grateful that it was presented to me and that I didn’t turn it down out of fear. I’m ending my summer with a far bigger heart, and she’s ending her’s with one more person in her corner. I can’t wait to see her next week for Bachelor TV Sunday!

Posted by: Sarah

Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Putting My Dreams on Temporary Hold

The adoption process is almost guaranteed to be frustrating, but sometimes it can be downright heartbreaking. There are families who dream of adopting and put their heart and soul into the process only to have their home study rejected for various, sometimes uncontrollable reasons. There are families who Foster to Adopt and although they expect the possibility that the child won’t remain with them, end up heartbroken anyway. Then there are those families who wait for what seems like forever before they find a match; the process for them is excruciating, never knowing at what moment their lives will change forever.

Adoption can be trying for everyone, and that’s why I’ve tried so hard to stay positive since losing my job last year and putting my adoption plans “on hold”, but I’ve not always been successful in remaining optimistic. Adoption is something I’m very passionate about, and it hasn’t been easy to talk about it, to visit my friends with kids or to focus on my volunteer work with FACES. There have been periods where I’ve had to block it out completely because it made me sad to even think about. I’ve had to shift focus to my other responsibilities and ambitions. I’ve spent more time reading and writing and hanging out with my family, which has actually been incredibly good for the soul.

Despite how difficult the last few months have been emotionally, I am still looking forward to getting back on track with my adoption plans very soon, and also allowing myself to take a break from it all in the meantime.

Posted by: Sarah

Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Fears of Motherhood

Three reasons I’m terrified of motherhood:

1) I worry that my kids won’t think I’m good enough, or that they’ll be upset at having a single parent and no father figure
2) I would like to add a husband & father to our family someday, but I’m afraid that meeting someone who will accept both me and my children will be difficult
3) It is really expensive to raise kids, and I hope I can strike a balance between work and family life without struggling financially

Three reasons I can’t wait to me a mom:

1) I was born for it. My maternal instincts have always been apparent and I can’t wait to have little people to guide as they learn and grow
2) My house needs a family to live in it; noise and chaos and lots and lots of love
3) Family has always been important to me, and I’m so ready to have one of my own. I’m ready to switch gears from career to mommy mode

Posted By: Sarah

Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Making the Right Choice About Potential Matches Despite Everyone Else’s Opinion

As I go through the matching process I am constantly reminding myself to take outside opinions with a grain of salt. It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially when those opinions are coming from the people closest to me.

Not many have come right out and told me I’m crazy for considering certain things, but I can sense their hesitancy. It comes from a place of love and worry (for me), so I don’t take it personally, and I do consider their points, but at the end of the day I know myself better than anyone and I’m confident I’ll make the right decision.

Someone with more sense than me might adopt children with less severe needs or choose to take on only a single child, but I have always been of the opinion that if someone has to do it, why not me? That’s not to say that I will take the hard road simply because it is hard, only that I won’t close any doors before they have even opened.

It frustrates me about myself when I see I’m not taking the road that demands more of me. Judith Light

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Adoption Frustration: The Timeline

I think the most common frustration we have as parents who’ve pursued adoption through Child and Family Services is that nothing happens as quickly as you think it will. Knowledge is key however, so I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned to help you prepare for your own journey.

From the time you submit your application to the time you are approved; your file will change hands several times. Each time it does, someone new has to take the time to review it and contact you. In my case, it took six months to receive initial contact and an average of three weeks to be contacted by each new worker thereafter. Your start to finish timeline will vary throughout the province, but in the Calgary area it is currently taking a year or more from submission to approval.

Here are a few examples of unforeseen things that held up my application:

1) It took six months to receive the first phone call after submitting my application. This was due to a staffing issue.

2) When I finally received the initial contact from the intake worker, I had to delay our first meeting as I was preparing to move into my new home. My house was mostly in boxes and of course, they want to meet in your home. I delayed this meeting a little over a month, until I took possession of my new home and had a couple of weeks to unpack.

3) It was late November when I finally had my first meeting with the intake worker. The next step was to attend the several days of parental training, however there is no training scheduled for December so I had to wait until January. That was another month long delay.

A tip for keeping things on track:

While I personally didn’t have any issues with the paperwork side of things, I’ve met with many people who have. I’ve heard stories of paperwork being lost, placed in the wrong person’s file, or not being received by Child and Family Services. These things happen, so do yourself a favour by having all of the paperwork filled out and submitted right away, and make sure to keep copies of it handy (in your email, on a flash drive, etc.) so it can be quickly rectified if something goes missing.

Also, your Criminal Record Check is only valid for six months, so find out from your worker when yours expires and make sure to allow enough processing time when submitting a new one.

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Summer of Structure

Every year I spend my spring planning out my summer. Days at the beach, camping and long weekends out of town. Now that I’m planning to have children, I’m wondering how much those kind of activities are going to wreak havoc on the high structure lifestyle that I’ve read is critical to adopted children’s success.

I wonder if taking them away from home will rock the boat too much, or if maintaining parts of their schedule (like bath time and bed time) will be enough to keep them at their best while we’re soaking up sun at the lake.

As we head into the long sunny days of summer and no school, how are you planning to manage your adopted child’s schedule? Do you have any advice for a newbie like me?

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Are You Sure?

I have a beef with the question “are you sure?”. It gets under my skin. It sends creepy crawlies up the back of my neck. It makes my eyebrow twitch.

I don’t know that I can speak for all prospective adoptive parents, but I imagine a good chunk of them feel the same way that I do.

OF COURSE I’M SURE!!

I’d always wanted to adopt, but before I submitted my application, I spent months mulling it over. I thought up every possibly life scenario, every horrible outcome, every risk, every reward, I confided in my closest friends and I had many, many sleepless nights. I assure you, I thought this decision through thoroughly. By the time I started telling people I was in the process of adoption, I was well past the point of  no return. My mind was made up and my heart was set on following this path.

Like I’ve already said, I’m not sure I can speak for all prospective parents, but this isn’t a decision one makes hastily. The next time someone tells you they’re adopting, please, please, pleasssse don’t ask them if they’re sure. Instead, squash that little voice of concern, put on a smile, and tell them you look forward to supporting them in their decision.

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Friday Nights In

In the first months after I made the decision to adopt, I had a lot of concerns; “little bugs” to work out, you could say. I worked through them one by one, I identified and weighed my options, tried to find the best solutions to each. The concerns I had are pretty typical I think… can I afford this? What about the logistics? Will I be able to find after school care or babysitting? Will I have to move into a house with more bedrooms? Should I stay in the city or go back to the ‘burbs? Where are the best schools located? And the list went on…

But my biggest concern in the beginning was when would there be time for me? What about my Friday nights when I like to hit the take-out aisle of the grocery store and curl up on the couch at home in front of the TV, after a long week at the office? I don’t think I could function now without my night to stay in and veg, so how will I function once I have kids? I still wonder this sometimes.

I do not intend to be one of those mom’s who says “once you have kids there’s just no time left for you!”. I firmly believe that to be a good parent, you need to be good to yourself, and that means taking breaks. Lots of breaks. I’m lucky enough to have an incredible support system in the making. My mother will be my after-school care (one down!), but she’ll also be there for me if I need some time off once in a while. There’s no reason my kids can’t go to Grandma’s for a weekend once in a while, or spend the day at the zoo with my cousins, or once they’re comfortable enough, to have sleepovers with friends. I’m certain there’s another mom out there willing to trade sleepovers once in a while.

Any takers?

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

“There is…nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people.” – H. R. Schaffer

After submitting my application, my life became entirely about preparing for the arrival of my future children. I was (and am) determined to raise my children in a “home” where they can feel safe and loved. I immediately started house hunting. I went to therapy to work out some resentment left over from my parent’s divorce. I read books about abuse, adoption and attachment. I went to a couple of free courses offered through Alberta Health Services, and I talked about it a lot with my family and close friends.

When it came to my family, I knew I was going to need their help and support. I called my mom, my aunt, my cousin and my best friends and I asked them outright if they would be able to support me. I hadn’t ever really shared my plans with many people before (probably because I hadn’t really thought of it as something I was going to do but as something that was just going to happen), but every single person was as thrilled about my decision to adopt as I was (albeit some of them were caught a bit off guard).

My mom is just delighted at the idea of being a grandparent. That probably has something to do with my telling her for years that I wasn’t going to have kids (I didn’t want to turn a certain age and get nagged about it all the time). She’s already prepared to help me with before/after school care and I’m so grateful that she just lives down the street.

One of my best friends is a social worker turned parole officer as well as a mother of three, and has a wealth of knowledge about anything and everything I can possibly think of to ask her. She also lives just a few minutes away and I know will be there for me in a pinch.

Watching my brother get on board is pretty cool, too. He’s just 20 so I don’t expect too much from him, but in the last while he’s been spending a lot of time with our family and seems to really be growing up. I can’t wait to see him as a proud uncle; I think he’ll do a great job.

I’ve always been lucky to have a close family and a small group of amazing friends. Having that support in place really does make all the difference when you’re adopting as a single person. Even though I’m doing this on my own, I really don’t feel alone.

“There is…nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people.” – H. R. Schaffer

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985