21 June 2003

Parenthood - ?

Well, our lives got turned upside down last week. After a year of telling us "probably by the end of the month" every month, and after we had become pretty thoroughly convinced that it would never happen and come to terms with that idea, the social worker called us on Tuesday and told us that our home study had been approved. We can now have foster children placed with us by the county of Fairfax, VA.

Wow. So now the a year's passed and everything's changed, we've got to figure out if and when we still want to--and are ready to--do this. When we originally signed up for the foster/adoptive parenthood program with the county well over a year ago, we had only recently found out that I was extremely unlikely to father children the old fashioned way. This was fairly devestating news, and then it seemed like a problem that had to be solved, one way or the other. We spent some time looking into medical solutions, but most wouldn't work, and those that might we ruled out either for ethical reasons or what seemed to us to be common sense reasons. (If one's sperm are broken in just about every way it's possible for sperm to be broken--number, motility, chemical potency--then is it really a good idea to take them and force them into service via high technology? Or is someone trying to tell us that the little guys just aren't meant to breed? We think the latter. We aren't luddites, but this is the creation of human life we're talking about here. Not something to be undertaken with shoddy, sub-par raw materials, in our opinion.)

So we talked about adoption. We'd talked about it before, but we were thinking we might have one child biologically, and then adopt whichever gender we didn't get. Our thinking was that we could do some good for a child who needed parents. Well, now adoption seemed like our best bet for children at all, and it was even more important to us that our apparent misfortune might be turned into good for someone. So we ruled out trying to adopt a perfect white newborn. Somehow it occurred to us that there were kids very much in need right in our own backyard. So we hooked up with the county and took their course on foster/adoptive parenting. In the course of that course, we decided to open ourselves to the foster option as well as adoption. After the course came the home study. The actual interviews didn't take too long, nor did filling out the paperwork we had to do.

But then our social worker quit, and apparently the county couldn't replace her. So our case got assigned to another worker, who was way overburdened. And so began a year-long wait, punctuated by infrequent phone calls, estimating that the approval would be completed by the end of the month. Then the next month. Then the next.

Tina changed jobs. Twice. Now she works full-time. With her added income, we sat down and formulated a plan for getting out of debt, and started putting it in motion. Our non-human kid roster went from three cats and a dog to three cats, two dogs, three ferrets, and two bunnies. We changed religions, and started to get hooked up with opportunites for volunteer mission work. Tina was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and began (successful) treatment. And we got used to the idea that parenting wasn't right around the corner. And maybe it wasn't in the cards at all. Like I said, everything changed.

So now what? Tina's certain that she wants kids to play a major role in her life, but needs to decide whether that means being a parent, or getting back into a career where she can work with kids every day. I'm certain that I both want and need to stop living such a self-centered existence, but I need to decide whether that means being a parent, or making volunteer/mission work a big part of my life. And together we need to decide what to do.

What we have decided so far is that we're not going to look at foster placements until after our 10th-anniversary trip in November which we've both planned and paid for. That gives us 6 months to get our heads on straight, and decide whether and how to make room in our lives for what would be both a huge challenge and a huge blessing.

The only constant in life is change.