So I'm a 50+ year old mom of a 4 and almost a half year old. Insane? Maybe. Am I happy? Unquestionably, 100% yes.
I have three children - now, actual adults - from my first marriage. They are now 25, 24 and 20. I met and married husband number two about 14 years ago. At the time, my children were about 5, 10, and 11. My ex wasn't really around much, so my now husband was a semi-father figure around the house. He is younger than me, and from the get-go told me that he didn't want kids of his own. That's what he thought....
I've always been interested in true crime books and tv shows. Something about the criminal mind fascinates me. If I had thought about it as a kid, I should have become a psychologist. I may be one of the few people on the planet who had pity for Jeffrey Dahlmer. One of the things that always struck me, is that when you watch a lot of these reality tv shows about people in jail, death row, in front of the parole board, how many times you hear that they had grown up in foster care, or been bounced around from one foster home to another. I always felt in the back of my mind that if I were ever in a position to, I'd like to do something about it.
One day, about 6 years ago, my husband called me while I was driving down the freeway. I don't know what got into him, but I remember his words - he said that he might, possibly, consider the possibility of maybe looking into possibly adopting a child. My next call was to Los Angeles County Department of Social Services and we were enrolled in the first step introduction meeting. My husband said that he'd never seen me act so quickly on anything, ever.
We began the long process to become qualified as foster parents. We learned that there are different types of foster parents - ones that are foster parents who have no plan to adopt, and others they call fost/adopt parents. We definitely wanted to adopt. We went to classes twice a week for about two months. We filled in all the forms. They checked our backgrounds. They inspected our home. I think from start to finish, the whole process took about 4 months.
Then, we waited.
We had learned in our classes that most - really, all - of these children are in foster care because of parents with some type of addiction problem. We also learned of the DCFS philosophy of trying to re-unify the families. Under all circumstances, they try their best to place the child back with their parents, or the parents family. If that fails, then the child goes to a foster family.
One of the things that they do when they screen you is find out what child you will accept into your home. They ask about a million criteria, ranging from age, racial makeup, disability, family history, etc. Our criteria was we wanted a child as young as possible, under 3. That was pretty much it.
We got a call probably after about two weeks. It was for a baby boy - he had been born prematurely to a drug addicted woman in prison. There's a long story here, but for the sake of brevity, we had that baby for three months. I loved him instantly. I loved him with every fiber of my being. Then, the social worker called and said that in 24 hours, they were coming to take him back, as they found a family member who was willing to take him. I still cry when I think about him. I know where he's being raised, and in what type of family. It's not good. It's not what would have been best for him. But, that's the way fost/adopt works.
In between my second and third biological children, I lost a baby at 21 weeks. Having this little boy taken away from us by DCFS was worse than that.
My husband and I then examined our reasons for doing this, and called the social worker and told her that we wanted to try again. We put away all the baby toys, equipment, and clothes. And, again, we waited.
We got a call after about another two weeks for a newborn baby boy. We missed the call.
Two days later, we got a call at about 4:00 and asked if we could be at a hospital about 30 miles away to pick up a baby girl. The person who called us knew what had happened to us previously, and while she couldn't make any promises, she said that it was her experience that this one may stick. She said that they had already pretty much heard from relatives that no one was interested in taking this little girl. The mother already had 6 children previously, who had all been taken away and placed in various families. There was no one for this little girl baby. Good thing we were home to get the call.
My husband and I had previously thought about what we'd name a girl. We decided on "Emily Jane" - Emily because we liked it, and Jane for my mother-in-law. We set off for the hospital....and, totally forgot my then 16 year old son needed to be picked up at his school and brought to his basketball practice. I called my very good friend Deborah - one of those friends you can always rely on - and asked her if she could pick up my son and take him to basketball. My husband jokingly told her that we would now name the baby "Julia" after her daughter as a thank you for getting our back. So, of course, Deborah came through.
We got to the hospital. Ironically, there was another couple there who were picking up a newborn girl also detained by DCFS. The randomness of this system never fails to amaze me. I wish I had spoken to that couple to see what happened to them.....what if they had got our baby, and they got ours? Coincidentally, they were naming their baby Emily too!
The nurses took us back to the nursery to meet our baby. Then, they told us that she was already named. JULIA. Really? Was this meant to be? That is my only explanation on this planet, that we were destined to be the parents of this child, in spite of the workings of DCFS, and the agony I went through with our first baby. Fate. That's my explanation anyways.
Well, our baby was NOT the most adorable baby. Nor did I fall immediately in love with her. She was cranky as hell for about 8 weeks. My husband (who was home full time with her) was not happy. There were moments he told me that he couldn't do this. That he wasn't cut out for it. But, he persevered.
After about 8 weeks, we saw a change. She was happy. Not crying. Social. A joy. And, then, she got cuter...
So, yada yada yada through all the foster care system crap - the adoption went through and was final when she was about a year and a half. And, all the crap was totally worth it!