I haven't written much lately, because I haven't needed to. Unexpectedly, the finalization of T's adoption did result in some much-needed (I realize, in retrospect) breathing room. Overnight, the visits from social workers, calls to lawyers, and endless negotiations about services stopped. A great deal of paperwork fell away, as we became his legal parents, and nearly simultaneously, he turned 18. The world knows no bureaucracy like that of foster care, but suddenly, it was over, and it left me with more time and less need to vent.
T exited foster care quietly and gracefully. It all just slipped away. We still have problems. In fact, amongst us, not much changed at all, at least in terms of how we relate. I think that alone was a surprise to T. A life spent in foster care prepared him for the milestone of legal adulthood with an undue emphasis. After all, foster care more or less ends when a kid turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes last. There are transitional "independent living" programs and safety nets, but in the metropolis where we live, the money and the availability of services just isn't there to back up the claims. There are also scholarships and incentives for kids who've been in extended foster care. But, at least in my experience, kids like T are not in the same place, chronologically and developmentally, as your average college-bound 18 year-old. It seems almost unjust to me to taunt them with scholarships and suggest that they pack for college when they're still working through the aftermath of a disastrous childhood. So many kids who "age out" end up on the streets, or couch-surfing, or ricocheting amongst various unstable living situations. Anyway, knowing all this, I think T was somewhat surprised that 18 came and went, and we're all still living here together, and we're still bossing him, and he still has to take out the trash and recycling if he wants to use the car. Turning 18 was not what he had been led to expect.
All this is not to say that our house is without its daily dramas. We are still navigating his substance abuse issues. He's in out-patient treatment, and underwhelmed by the quality of the program, going pretty diligently and mostly abstaining, but not making as much progress as he or we had hoped. I've decided that hope is the pretty cousin to stress and pressure, so I'm trying to set mine aside, and let him find his own way. I'll write more soon about parenting and addiction, a topic I've thought a lot about this year. But right now, I'm just enjoying a sort of mundane everyday feeling. Here's to feeling ordinary!