Sunday, October 14, 2018
Next Installment, Verse 999.2
Continuing the story...
Yes, I paid the 2018 frozen embryo storage fee. Against my husband's wishes. And then I put it aside.
In early February I came home from my three-month deployment to Houston and went about life. The first thing we did was meet with the Foster Care folks for our final home inspection. We sailed through it and although they said we have room for 10 kids... we told them we'd place three, unless there was a sibling group that we felt right about. Our licensing caseworker apologized that it had taken a year and a half of bureaucratic stalls between state agencies to get to this point (again, a frustrating story for another day) and reminded us that there were a lot of kids in need. She said she'd have all the licensing paperwork wrapped up by February 15th, which would push us through to placement. Satisfied that we were finally getting somewhere, we marched forward.
In early March, I had dinner with some dear friends. There of four of us and we call ourselves "The Flying Wasabies". We met many years ago in my old town, as we volunteered together in our church leading 25-40 young women ages 12 - 18. For over five years, we prepared gospel lessons each Sunday...met every Wednesday night for uplifting social activities and service projects, and took the girls camping for a week every summer. Young women have it tough in today's world so as leaders, we became really close in thinking about their welfare and how to be good role models. Even after three of us moved from the area and moved to different congregations, the four of us would still get together every few months to eat sushi and catch up. I hadn't seen them since before my surgery so when I came home from Houston it promised to be a long night.
All three of these friends are professional women, with beautiful families... so I just kind of sit in awe at their lives when we meet, soaking it all in. One is an uber talented interior designer and fierce advocate for special needs children, thanks to her own beautiful child with Downs Syndrome. She just had her third baby and somehow balances it all. Another (whom we call "El Presidente") is the mom of teenagers and she fills us full of wild laughter from this stage of motherhood. She teaches us everything she learns from the high school which is both frightening and fascinating at the same time. The third, oozes creative genius as a hair stylist so she keeps us looking good and full of excitement as a law enforcement spouse. Her husband just joined the Air Force Reserves and she also has two young children, so never a dull moment there.
I love these women and they've been my lifeline through the years more than they'll ever know. So in March when we met, I was filling them in about my breakdown in the hospital parking lot, right before my surgery (which sounded oh-so funny in the playback)... when Mrs. Law Enforcement stopped me and said, "J - you have danced around the story of Colton for years. If you feel comfortable sharing it with us... what exactly happened?"
So I told them.
All of it.
Even the shameful parts, like not knowing I was in labor and having a baby in the middle of the night at home in the bathroom. More specifically, in the toilet... which has literally taken me 10+ years to say out loud. I've honestly had to work up a lot of bravery for that detail and I don't think I've ever been so vulnerable in a conversation in my life. But I'm glad someone finally asked, and I'm especially glad it was my friends. By the end of it, we were all crying in our sushi and these women loved me even more through it.
I also told them all about Foster Care, which I still hadn't heard back from despite the February 15th licensing commitment. They shared in my frustration and kept me focused and moving forward with their support. Once again, it was a much-needed dinner.
By May, we still didn't have any movement with foster care so another old friend from college decided that she was going to become my "Baby Manger". Licensing still hadn't come through and despite multiple attempts to reach out via email and phone... this friend (unbeknownst to me) decided to start a private Facebook group on my behalf. Her idea was that adoption and foster care sometimes require a network of friends keeping their eyes and ears out. I'm a private person by nature so this was really hard for me (funny, I know since I have this blog!) but I said okay to the FB group. What the heck - it couldn't hurt, right?!
In June, I still hadn't heard anything from foster care despite upwards to 15 attempts to get in contact and find out where we were. February 15th came and went. As did March, April, May and the first part of June. Through the five months, I had left voicemails and email with no result. Nothing. Not even a return phone call or email saying, "thanks - got it. Be patient.". Nothing. So on Friday, June 8th I left a message that went something like this...
"Amanda - this is [Mrs] Thompson. Again. I've left you about 15 emails and voicemail messages since we didn't hear back from you in mid February. As you may recall, we met on February 6th when you came to our home for the final home inspection . It's now June 6th and although we've been really understanding of high caseloads and busy schedules... at this point it's been a two year process for us and we haven't even received any reply communication from your office. That leaves us with two impressions: 1) We didn't qualify. If that's the case, we understand and thank you for your time. ... or.... 2) there really isn't the urgency or need for foster care parents, despite what we heard in training and from DCFS. Regardless, if we don't hear back from you by next Friday, June 15th, we'd like to withdraw our volunteer application to become foster care parents and we'll go in a different direction. Thank you."
I'd like to feel bad for that stern message because if anyone understands bureaucracy and red tape - it's me. I live with it every day in my line of work with the federal and state governments. But at this point, not even a return phone call or email was inexcusable and I was incredibly frustrated. But wouldn't you know - in my inbox the next Monday morning, I had a copy of our foster care license (backdated to May) with a message saying that we were now being referred to the third state agency that oversees foster care placement in my state. (Oy vey! If this is hard on foster care parents - imagine what the poor kids have to go through!).
About that same time I receive a call from Mrs. Law Enforcement saying that she wanted to talk. Expecting it to be another sushi date with the ladies, I was very excited.
But when I showed up, it was just the two of us. And she had something she really wanted to talk to me about...