Monday, March 18, 2013

Next Steps (Part I)

The night before our first home visit with the intake social work who is helping us with our foster parent certification, I slept pretty well.  Mostly because the baby gates were up, the outlets were plugged with safety covers and I was confident that Brian and I would present ourselves like the “good” parents we are.

“We’ll start off with a few preliminary questions before we get into the paperwork for today and the tour of your home.  Alright…. Do you or have you ever had a meth lab in your basement?”

That is how, after exchanging introductions and obligatory small talk, our first home visit with the social work started. Follow up questions included:

•    Have you ever sexually abused a child?
•    Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
•    Have you ever received a DUI?

Just in case you’re wondering, an emphatic NO (and a mental “what the hell?!”) just about sums up the answers we gave. It seems that I’d underestimated how “good” we are.

As it turns out, the state of Missouri is a huge proponent of parental rights – so much so, that parental rights trump pretty much everything (including the well-being of a child, though their safety is "taken into consideration"). Now, I am a parent and absolutely believe I have the right to raise my biological child…. but I’d like to think if Cameron’s well-being was in jeopardy simply by having me as a parent, that someone, especially the state, would act in HIS best interest first.  Not so much. I asked our social worker in what situations would parental rights be terminated swiftly – her response? “Well, it varies.  But in cases of severe sexual abuse or if the parent murdered a sibling, parental rights would probably be terminate more quickly.


We talked a bit more about counties and judges and other nitty gritty details about the process. I realized how absolutely selfish and self-centered I have been as I tiptoed into this process. Because I want another child and I want Cameron to be a big brother and I want to be able to “move forward”.  I avoided considering (until I absolutely had to) how awful being a foster child must be.... and what it would mean to them to have guardians like me and Brian.

A good friend put it this way:

“It’s a big old mess. On one had, so many kids are in very bad situations with their biological parents. On the other hand, so many kids are taken away from their parents and move from home to home until they age out because people don’t want to adopt older kids as often. Either way, the kids suffer.  Such a sad mess.”

Whether we have the opportunity to adopt the child/ren we foster, they might be safer and more loved with us than they've ever been. Brian and I didn't go into this process because we wanted to foster, but strangely, it's starting to feel like the "right" path.  A crazy, crooked, uncertain path - but the way forward nonetheless.

"What matters is to live in the present, live now, for every moment is now. It is your thoughts and acts of the moment that create your future. The outline of your future path already exists, for you created its pattern by your past." - Sai Baba

"Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love.
- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Can you believe that this little shrimpy thing..........

...... has already transformed into this huge boy?

Ready for a playdate

Loves to climb up the slide

And take big brother Mowgli for a walk

Has to read at least 5 books before bed

There's a great big world out there!

 A few weeks ago, we were enjoy a lazy Sunday at home.  As I crafted a healthier version of mulligatawny, Cameron play with his Etch-a-Sketch while Sesame Street provided the background noise. I put the soup on simmer and went to sit with him - but he was no longer interested in drawing a magnetized picture.  Instead, he clambered into my lap and buried his face in my shirt. 

Cam: "Mom! Big Bad Wolf get you."
Me: Cam, the Big Bad Wolf isn't going to get you.

It turns out that Sesame Street was doing a rather hilarious parody (featuring Tim Gunn) of The Three Little Pigs and the neon pink BBW had totally freaked my son out. And he could tell me that he was scared.  So began the daily practice of telling him many, many reasons why the Big Bad Wolf can't get him  (Wolves are scared of mommies, grandmas and Mowglis. Wolves can't come into your room. Wolves don't like the way little boys smell.  The wolves don't like to leave the zoo.)  Sometimes he believes me and other times he's pretty skeptical.  And really, all I can think when we have these conversations is When did you stop being a little shrimp & become this little person? 

He has his own little sense of humor.  Whenever I ask him what he wants to eat, he will first respond with some outlandish request (cake, cookies, pie, ice cream) and then giggle about it.  "No, really...." I respond and then he'll answer honestly (meat, cheese, yogurt, berries, corn). When he catch me and Brian hugging or kissing, he runs screaming towards us "Me too, Me too! Pick Cameron up. Daddy kiss Cameron. Cameron kiss Mommy. Mommy kiss Mowgli (how come mommy gets stuck kissing the dog?!)" He can be so serious, so sad and so sweet - it's a hoot to be a part of toddler mood swings & whims.

I keep wishing that I could freeze time so he'd stop growing - but then we arrive at a new stage and he's increasingly funny, curious, and entertaining. I'm overwhelmed with this feeling of not only being grateful for getting to be a mom, but getting to be his mom.

 “I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child.”- Anne Lamott