It's my birthday and I'm feeling reflective.
I always wanted to be a foster/adoptive mom to a teenager. Then I turned 35, and right around the time other people's biological clocks start to chime, the impetus acquired a momentum of its own.
I think it's just part of who I have always been. I went to a strict Catholic grammar school and in fourth grade, we had to do a presentation in the parish hall. About 80% of the class went with anti-abortion presentations. My best friend and I went a different route. We had a three-part posterboard with cartoon illustrations that we obtained from a local social worker - the "dos" and "don'ts" of child-rearing. The right panel advertised in large type the various hotline phone numbers for abused kids. My dad still jokes about the sideways looks he got from the other parents, but he proudly saved that posterboard for a long time.
So I guess it's not too surprising that I grew up and wanted to do this kind of parenting. Still, actually becoming T.'s parent has been a long, hard slog. Before him, I loved people and I was loved, but I didn't really believe in profound, life-altering commitment the way I do now. Our connection with him was like a bolt of lightening. Just under a year ago, we were volunteering at some stupid dog rescue event in Torrance, and I looked up and there was this boy, so tall and solemn and utterly withdrawn and the three of us fell into an uncanny synchronicity. It was like he had a beacon inside him sending out an unspoken message: "It's me!" On the basis of nothing other than this irrational hunch, we pursued our foster license, did five months of weekend visits while he bounced through two other foster homes, and finally wrangled DCFS into placing him with us. Keeping up the connection to him while navigating that process was like trying to keep your eye on a feather in the midst of a hurricane. But T. kept transmitting his signal, and we kept believing in him for whatever mysterious reason.
Tomorrow, the children's court hears his six-month placement review. The report going to the court contains one simple statement from an interview DCFS did with T.: "I like it here and I want to stay." The report recommends adoption (which has always been our goal, but you have to do six months of foster care before the court will consider moving forward with adoption in a case like T.'s), and we're likely to get a date now in adoption court a few months from now.
I'm not a perfect parent - in fact I'm very bad at it sometimes. And T. is not an easy kid - he has oddities and challenges that come from having been through 15 different homes before ours. I might fail him. I might be broken-hearted when he leaves home. I might foster/adopt several more kids. Or he might be the only one, and we might be close for the rest of our lives. I don't know. But if I died tomorrow, I'd be satisfied that I did this one small thing, however imperfectly
I really do feel that way.