Friday, April 29, 2016

the beginning of the end

My brain can't really handle the fact that Sunday is May 1st.

I mean, I know I have been there with my kids day in and day out since August, but this school year seems to have FLOWN by. It's like I turned around and my sweet firsties are composing informational texts and subtracting two digit numbers with ease!

I'm so proud of these kiddos. Really.

I'm also going to miss them.

My district is redrawing some zoning lines in an effort to alleviate overcrowding in my school and others in our cluster. As a result, many of my students will not be at our school next year. On top of the large amounts of people which move as a result of our community being highly transient.

But the students are not the only ones leaving. I'm leaving, too.

At the end of this school year I'll be packing up my things and moving to another school closer to my home. New school, new district, new county... same grade level though. :)

My choice to switch school districts wasn't easy and I agonized over the decision for months. In the end though, I knew it was going to be the best choice in the long run. This school is within the district where I grew up and attended school myself when I was a kid. It's one of the best in the state. It's also within the school system our house is zoned for which means our kids could come to school with me, yet still make friends with kids who live near us.

There will be perks like having a regular classroom inside the building and more resources than you could shake a stick at.

It also has a population similar to the school where I currently teach which was a HUGE deal for me when making the decision. I'm still going to be working with a high immigrant population and a good deal of students receiving ESOL services.

The only thing it won't have are my former students and the amazing coworkers I have come to know and love. But I am confident that, through the connectivity tool that is facebook and my own willingness to jump in with optimism, this move will be for the best.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The quotable Mr. Thoreau

This is an insanely popular quote. To the point that people have had these words tattooed on their bodies.

It also served as the inspiration for the title of my little corner of the internet here on this blog due to it being my favorite quote from a literary figure I have revered since reading an excerpt of Walden when I was 15.

You see, I can most assuredly be classified as a Transcendentalist. It has been thrown at me by professors as an insult before (literary nerds have weird insults). The whole "people and nature are inherently good" philosophy is practically my life motto. Actively engaging in life to benefit your circumstances or the circumstances of causes that you hold dear is what I do. 

My current job and choice of employer is clear evidence of that.

However, the events of last week ignited all of my pent up frustration about this waiting game and I found my brain raging against this quote. I was pretty angry and felt that this quote, which has had a deeply rooted place in my heart for over 10 years, was deeply flawed.

After all... I have spent years going quite confidently in the direction of my lifelong dream of motherhood and I am nowhere NEAR living the life I have imagined. In fact, that aspect of my life is playing out more like a nightmare at the moment. All the self reliance in the world will not fix my broken reproductive system OR our adoption struggles. 

I actually planned to write this very blog post about how wrong this quote was and how I would be changing the name of this blog to something new and different.

In my search for a new quote, I stumbled across the Walden Woods Project misquotations page. This quote I have loved for so long is actually a famous MISQUOTE . The actual quote as it appears in Walden is:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Henry David Thoreau

Isn't it amazing how a few words can make all the difference? I love the inclusion of the word "endeavor". I love that there is more there than a simple cause and effect structure. Whereas I have always understood the quote to be almost an "if, then" statement (IF you go confidently in the direction of your dreams, THEN you will live the life you've imagined), it is, in fact, an anecdotal observation that we all must try our best to be the people we wish to be and be open to a fluid interpretation of success.

That is something I think we can all embrace. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

this is not my week

It's been an emotional week.

That's also a gross understatement.

We had our document presentation on Monday with our caseworker and, even now, I fail to be able to explain my emotions upon leaving.


Suffice it to say.... we are no longer pursuing our most recent match. It felt like a punch to the gut to read through the documentation and realize that we are so poorly suited for these kids. I can't go into detail about why for privacy reasons, but they were significant.

And they did not apply to just one child either.

As I mentioned in my last post, adoption is forever. Whatever kids we do bring into our family will be there for a lifetime. It's permanent. We have to be honest about what we are willing and able to handle for forever.

One thing that made the situation particularly rough is that this is not the first time this has happened to us. And we had zero time to process our emotions about the failed match because we couldn't afford to take more time off of work for an adoption that wasn't going to happen.

Add in state testing this week for my school and you have one long, emotionally draining week.

I stumbled across this music video while browsing YouTube the other day and it has brought me a certain amount of peace the last couple of days. Enjoy! And I hope you have been having a better week than me.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

the potential match

Shortly after we started back to work after spring break we had a discussion with our caseworker. The two boys we were hoping to match with found their match with a different family. Its a weird emotion to experience joy for the kids' potentially forever match and sorrow for your missed match at the same time. That's adoption from foster care for you.

I'm told we will experience a lot of those weird conflicting emotions in our journey.

Our conversation was not all bittersweet though. We found out that our previous caseworker (the one we loved that went out on maternity leave) had been in contact with another caseworker about a different sibling group of children for us before she went on maternity leave. That caseworker hadn't said anything else since we made the switch to our new caseworker, so nobody had told Steve and I that there was a possible match in the works.

Turns out, there was. We have a match!

For those of you who have never been in this position, let me be the first to tell you: it is intense. Before, we worked in generalities for the most part.
Yes- we will consider these special needs.
No - we will not consider that diagnosis.
Now we have a specific set of children to consider with all kinds of specifics to pour over and make decisions about. How do we feel about this situation, can we handle that behavior.... Are we even capable of going from no kids to 4 kids practically overnight?

All of this within the context of forever. If we proceed with this match the end result is this set of kids becoming ours forever. This formal match process is the only time we have to decide whether we are the right adults to take on the privilege of parenting these specific children.

Do our strengths with regard to their situation and specific needs outweigh our weaknesses?

I promise I'm not trying to be a downer. I'm just trying to express what a complete mindfuck this last week has been. And I know those experiences have just begun.

Let me tell you what the next steps are... That's always the question I get asked by people when we talk about the adoption:

1) document presentation: Sit down with our caseworker and go over every piece of paperwork related to these kids since they came into care. Usually psychological evaluations, reports, medical reports, school records, IEPs if there are any... that kind of thing. It's exciting because you find out little things like names, birthdays, favorite foods, what they like to do... but also sobering things like why and when they came into care. Ours is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

2) formal staffing: meeting with everyone involved with the case - Steve and I, our caseworker, the kids' caseworker, foster parent, and regional adoption coordinator. We meet at the DFCS office in the county where the kids reside and Steve and I get to ask all of our questions about the kids we have based on their documentation. We also get to talk with people who actually know the kids and get their input since no kid is as one-dimensional as they seem on paper. This meeting is also when we create our visitation plan.

3) visitation - This is when we finally meet the kids. It starts with a brief meeting (around 2 hours, usually at the kids' foster home) and proceeds from there with visits gradually increasing in duration and eventually leading to visitations in our home with the kids spending the night.

4) move in - If all the previous steps go well, the kids move in with Steve and I permanently. We have them 24/7, every day. This period before finalization allows us to get an idea of what day to day life will be like with the kids. We experience getting them ready for school, eating dinner together, taking them to their various appointments and activities, interacting with friends and family.... the things that make up real life.

5) finalization - a minimum of 6 months from move in day is when finalization occurs. This is when we go down to the courthouse and a judge issues the final adoption paperwork. From this point we are officially, legally, a forever family.

If I haven't made this clear... I am BEYOND excited to begin this process and potentially meet my kids. I am trying to be cautiously optimistic, but I'm the kind of person who puts my whole heart into something or none at all. Staring down potential heartbreak is intense... but it is way better than the alternative of never experiencing something worth risking my heart for.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


I love my job. I do. really. But, as with everything we put our whole self into, it can be draining.

Enter: spring break!

Steve and I both needed an opportunity to get the heck out of dodge and try to remember how to relax. So, we went to the capitol of relaxation... the beach.

We left bright and early Monday morning to drop the dogs off at K9 Planet (their very favorite doggy daycare/boarding facility) to play with their friends. After that we jumped on the interstate and drove south until we hit ocean.

Not literally. We stopped in the parking lot of a hotel and walked the rest of the way to the water. ;)

We spent three GLORIOUS days lounging on the beach and generally being lazy bums.

It. was. FABULOUS!

Yes, the all caps is necessary. I don't think anyone, least of all Steve and I, knew how much we absolutely needed to have that down time together. It wasn't until we were laying on beach loungers, covered in sunscreen, soaking up the warm rays that we noticed just how much the last few years have been weighing on us.

I'm not talking about just adoption and baby-making stuff either. Obviously that has been a giant issue, but little things have been weighing us down too. Things like walking that fine line of building up our savings while also paying down debt.

Things like the day-to-day stress of dealing with traffic and workplace drama.

Things like health issues both physical and mental. After all, I had pneumonia and the flu this year in addition to two broken toes and a multitude of ear infections.

Normally we deal with these things and they roll off our backs. But when you haven't had a break from that day-to-day craziness in almost 4 years (not including our trip to DC for my cousin's graduation since that trip was about helping family, not relaxing) it becomes significantly more difficult to let it go at the end of the day.

Now that we have had that time to recharge, we are ready again to face the issues life is planning to throw at us. We are still waiting for news regarding our potential match. We are still working out the little home renovation things we are doing to prepare for whatever kiddos we get.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Waiting Game

I promise I haven't been silent so long on purpose. Just as I tell my friends when they ask me at work and on Facebook, there is't much to report.

I have come to understand that this process of adoptin through Foster Care is very much a "hurry up and wait" kind of situation. When something DOES happen, it must be done quickly. But you go through long periods where nothing is really happening.

Okay, that's not really true. You go through long periods where it APPEARS that nothing is happening. Behind the scenes at agencies and state facilities there is a lot going on. We just aren't privy to those things.

And a good thing too because it would likely bore us out of our skulls.

Suffice it to say, we are awaiting a response from the caseworker for a sibling group we are interested in matching with. It's the season for Spring Break vacations, so we likely will not hear anything back until the middle of this month.

Our [substitute] caseworker has assured me that, if we do get paperwork back after spring break confirming our selection as a match, things will move very quickly and we may even be able to begin visitation before April ends. That would be awesome. Not the least of which because it puts the kiddos moving in just after school ends over Memorial Day weekend and gives all of us lots of time to settle in before next school year begins.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....

Right now we are continuing our prayers for guidance, patience in this period of waiting, and wisdom for everyone involved.